May 2005

Jan Garbarek
In Praise of Dreams
ECM Records

Jan Garbarek's influence on today's generation of Norwegian players is in ample evidence, but his latest, In Praise of Dreams (ECM), sounds like it was made using out-of-the-box soft-synth sounds and drum patterns.

Garbarek has long used synthesizers in his music, which, when paired with his soft soprano stylings, makes for nice ambient music-and sometimes totally smooth jazz. Garbarek handles all the tenor and soprano playing as well as synths, samples and much of the percussion; Manu Katche plays drums and provides some loops, and Kim Kashkashian's viola plays a prominent role throughout the CD.

The title track, "If You Go Far Enough" and, to a lesser degree, "Conversation With a Stone" touch on the haunting sounds of Norwegian folk music, but Garbarek renders the tunes so contemporary, so without the folk, that they might as well be MIDI versions of Nordic favorites. "Without Visible Sign" made me laugh out loud; it sounds like romantic background music from a 1940s B movie. Actually, much of the CD fits that description.

Originally published in May 2005
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