Friday, April 13, 2012
Keith Jarrett / Jan Garbarek - Luminessence (ECM - ECM 1049 ST)
This album was one of the first records I have bought. The reason it came up from the depths of my collection was the chance to have it signed by Jan Garbarek. That was a journey which did not bear any fruit since before the concert, there was an announcement that he would not accept any inquiries after the concert. Well so much for that. But the good side of the story is I had a chance to listen to the record again and here we are as a result.
This album is truly remarkable in many aspects. Two giants in Jazz joining together to create an inspiring album? Yes this is one. Jarrett's composition of a contemporary classical work? Surely. The improvisations of Garbarek? Without a doubt. All this in one single album? Oh yes! And the string
A side of the album consists of two compositions named "Numinor" and "Windsong". These compositions are heavy in emotion. What I mean from this is, both of them are close to the level of depression with the main melody of strings are creating tensions and Garbarek's soprano saxophone is about to push you down from the edge of the cliff. Garbarek always has a tendency to drive someone to alcoholism, but here he is overachieving himself. I have a huge elephant sitting on my chest during the whole A side. You are being shoved, squeezed, hit, torn apart from both sides. "Windsong" makes Garbarek attain an Oriental style during his improvisations. This comes out as utterly striking notes. I sit in awe while my heart constantly hurts. On one side, I'm thinking "Is this never going to end?", while the other part of my brain says "Shut up, it should not end. It is divine". With these feelings I turn the record to face the B side.
"Luminessence" gives a more uplifting feeling with a stronger string section. On the A side string section was mainly the mood setter and Garbarek was putting the killing touch. In this composition, roles seems to be reversed. The strings take on the stage and Garbarek accompanies them (Generally). Of course Garbarek is not always lenient and he forces himself to the front. I should also clear out one thing. Uplifting is a comparison to the A side. This composition is also emotional, yet on the level of sorrow or mourning. Not on the level of -I'm going to kill myself in the next 10 minutes- depressive style. I can definitely say it's more humanitarian.
In terms of musical concept, this is something which even I was not expecting from Jarrett. These compositions are truly way apart from the musical heritage Jarrett came up with. Yes, some points in Garbarek's free improvisation remind me of Jazz induced solos, while at most of the time, I feel like I am listening a Contemporary Classical Composition. I'm also quite sure composers like Max Richter and Olafur Arnalds have listened to this record since their compositions have similarities with this style. Actually it also reminds me of some of the works by Matthew Shipp. He also takes on a logic similar to this, yet with a different style. With all this in mind, after listening this record, you can understand why it has been hailed by the music critics and loved by many on both genres, Jazz and Classical.
To buy this record: