While at the John McLaughlin concert we discovered that one our favourite musicians, Jan Garbarek, was appearing a couple of days later with the programme annotation "Queue for returns". Ever the optomist Mary went online and manage to bag a pair of return tickets - in a box!
The concert was fine, two hours without an interval, and we particularly enjoyed the extended solo from the percussionist, Trilok Gurtu.
The FT review summarised it as
"Gurtu’s tour de force solo on some unconventional percussion was the high point of an otherwise bitty evening"
The Guardian review was similarly ambivalent:
"Where has Jan Garbarek gone? I miss him. The Norwegian saxophonist used to be the king of icy cool jazz – but at this gig he sounded more like Kenny G. What's going on? If you know anything about Jan Garbarek, you'll know him as the Norwegian who invented a uniquely Nordic language for the saxophone; the guy George Russell described as "the most original voice in European jazz since Django Reinhardt"; the guy whose austere albums with the Hilliard Ensemble have shifted millions of copies; the guy who almost single-handedly defined the ECM label.
Garbarek – mainly playing his tiny, odd-looking curved soprano sax, but occasionally switching to tenor – mainly sticks to simple, nursery rhyme-style melodies. He occasionally restates them with light improvisation, but rarely lets rip with full-on solos. Nor does his playing tonight ever really imply the weight of jazz history that he usually holds in reserve. Instead, he sounds like a jazz musician at a pop session, where the producer is nagging him to "cut that jazz crap".
What transforms the lineup is the rhythm section: German veteran pianist Rainer Brüninghaus, Brazilian bass guitarist Yuri Daniel and eccentric Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu. For much of the gig, they push at their roles magnificently. Gurtu multitasks on his Aladdin's Cave of a drum kit, switching from kit drums to tablas, from hand percussion to vocal percussion, and – during his extended solo – performing his usual tricks with a bucket of water. "
Hey, ho. We enjoyed it and that is what matters.
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