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Jan Garbarek/Hilliard Ensemble: Remember me, my dear (ECM)

Review of a live album reuniting the atmospheric saxophonist and genre-bending vocal ensemble

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Jan Garbarek/Hilliard Ensemble, Remember me, my dear
The cover of Remember me, my dear by Jan Garbarek /Hilliard Ensemble

There is rich history to the pairing of Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek and British early-music vocal team the Hilliard Ensemble, history that resonates in every nuance of their latest (and, we presume, last) collaboration, Remember me, my dear.

Garbarek, David James (countertenor), Rogers Covey-Crump (tenor), Steven Harrold (tenor), and Gordon Jones (baritone) worked together on 1994’s stately, experimental Officium and 2010’s Officium Novum. Like Remember me, my dear, those albums’ radical dissections of early classical music and its contemporary cousin resonated with holy harmonies, allowing both saxophonist and singers to soar as one sheet of sound, though acting separately from the other. The throes of the past were the focus—primitive-sounding chants and deep, aged rolling r’s, with Garbarek’s reeds offering up plaintive wails and playful howls—but there was, too, a distant sense of the now. If the Art Ensemble of Chicago hadn’t already taken the “ancient to the future” slogan, Garbarek & Co. could have.

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