Jan Garbarek (born 4 March 1947) is a Norwegian jazz saxophonist, who is also active in classical music and world music.
Garbarek was born in Mysen, Norway, the only child of a former Polish prisoner of war, Czesław Garbarek, and a Norwegian farmer’s daughter. He grew up in Oslo, stateless until the age of seven, as there was no automatic grant of citizenship in Norway at the time. When he was 21, he married Vigdis. He is the father of musician and composer Anja Garbarek.
Garbarek’s sound is one of the hallmarks of the ECM Records label, which has released virtually all of his recordings. His style incorporates a sharp-edged tone, long, keening, sustained notes, and generous use of silence. He began his recording career in the late 1960s, notably featuring on recordings by the American jazz composer George Russell (such as Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature). By 1973 he had turned his back on the harsh dissonances of avant-garde jazz, retaining only his tone from his previous approach. Garbarek gained wider recognition through his work with pianist Keith Jarrett’s European Quartet which released the albums Belonging (1974), My Song (1977) and the live recordings Personal Mountains (1979), and Nude Ants (1979). He was also a featured soloist on Jarrett’s orchestral works Luminessence (1974) and Arbour Zena (1975).
As a composer, Garbarek tends to draw heavily from Scandinavian folk melodies, a legacy of his Ayler influence. He is also a pioneer of ambient jazz composition, most notably on his 1976 album Dis a collaboration with guitarist Ralph Towner, that featured the distinctive sound of a wind harp on several tracks. This textural approach, which rejects traditional notions of thematic improvisation (best exemplified by Sonny Rollins) in favour of a style described by critics Richard Cook and Brian Morton as “sculptural in its impact”, has been critically divisive. Garbarek’s more meandering recordings are often labeled as new-age music, or spiritual ancestors thereof. Other experiments have included setting a collection of poems of Olav H. Hauge to music, with a single saxophone complementing a full mixed choir; this has led to notable performances with Grex Vocalis. In the 1980s, Garbarek’s music began to incorporate synthesizers and elements of world music. He has collaborated with Indian and Pakistani musicians such as Trilok Gurtu, Zakir Hussain, Hariprasad Chaurasia, and Bade Fateh Ali Khan. Garbarek is credited for composing original music for the 2000 film Kippur.
In 1994, during heightened popularity of Gregorian chant, his album Officium, a collaboration with early music vocal performers the Hilliard Ensemble, became one of ECM’s biggest-selling albums of all time, reaching the pop charts in several European countries and was followed by a sequel, Mnemosyne, in 1999. Officium Novum, another sequel album, was released in September 2010. In 2005, his album In Praise of Dreams was nominated for a Grammy Award. Garbarek’s first live album Dresden was released in 2009.
I Took Up the Runes is an album by Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek released on the ECM label and performed by Garbarek, Rainer Brüninghaus, Eberhard Weber, Nana Vasconcelos, Manu Katché, and Bugge Wesseltoft with Ingor Ánte Áilo Gaup contributing vocals.
In a contemporaneous review, Jim Aikin described the album as a “hauntingly evocative Euro-jazz session” and identified the “Gula Gula” track as “especially memorable”. (wikipedia)
A more eclectic release than his preceding releases, Jan Garbarek’s I Took Up the Runes satisfies listeners who had been more or less impatient for something with some meat and some muscle. Opening with a jazzy cover of Mari Persen’s “Gula Gula,” made fuller with bass guitar accompaniment that modifies the chord structure of the whole tune, the album next features the five-part “Molde Canticle,” which spans from a dreamy esoteric sound to African folk music. Garbarek really wails in places, and it is a welcome surprise — he should wail more than he does. Synthesizer sounds are starting to become less prominent as well. There is excellent piano work by Rainer Brüninghaus and excellent vocalizing by guest artist Ingor Ántte Áilu Gaup. A sign of good things to come. (by Mark Allender)
Rainer Brüninghaus (piano)
Jan Garbarek (saxophone)
Ingor Ánte Áilo Gaup (voice)
Manu Katché (drums)
Nana Vasconcelos (percussion)
Eberhard Weber (bass)
Bugge Wesseltoft (synthesizer)
01. Gula Gula (Mari Persen) (Garbarek) 5.56
02. Molde Canticle: Part 1 (Garbarek) 5.12
03. Molde Canticle: Part 2 (Garbarek) 5.44
04. Molde Canticle: Part 3 (Garbarek) 9.54
05. Molde Canticle: Part 4 (Garbarek) 5.11
06. Molde Canticle: part 5 (Garbarek) 6.08
07. His Eyes Were Suns (Traditional) 6.05
08. I Took Up The Runes (Garbarek) 5.25
09. Buena Hora, Buenos Vientos (Garbarek) 9.01
10. Rahkki Sruvvis (Gaup) 2.23