Hailing from Norway, Jan Garbarek is a tenor and soprano player known for his spacious playing and folk-inspired jazz composition.
Born of a Polish prisoner of war and a Norwegian farmer’s daughter, he grew up in Oslo, Norway. His career began in the 1960s through a gig with George Russell. The avant-garde jazz scene wasn’t his style, though, so he left it. He preferred the silence and sustained notes that smooth and fusion styles allow. He also played with Keith Jarrett’s European Quartet in the mid-1970s on a handful of the latter’s albums and recordings.
Belonging (1974), My Song (1977), Personal Mountains (1979), and Nude Ants (1979) are among these.
Luminessence (1974) and Arbour Zena (1975) were orchestral albums that he featured on as well.
His ambient jazz composing in Dis (1976) was an instrumental album full of textures, as if he was sculpting sound through layers. Some consider it a New Age album because of Jan’s meandering style, but I doubt the label matters much to him. The film The Insider used pieces of Dis throughout the soundtrack.
Jan had many successful albums, including Places (1978) and Photo with Blue Sky, White Cloud, Wires, Windows and a Red Roof (1979). Both albums have extreme attention to tone and space. It’s OK to Listen to the Gray Voice (1985) and I Took Up the Runes (1990) moved a few steps further from his meditative style, dabbling in more experimentations with synthesizers and the world music genre. He continues to intertwine his feel for folk and ambience throughout In Praise of Dreams (2004), which was nominated for a Grammy in 2005.
His latest release with the Jan Garbarek Group, Dresden (2009), is a broad-ranging 2-disc live album. Drummer Manu Katchï¿½ and bassist Yuri Daniel provide alternating chill and frenzy during the entire experience. With plenty of his clear tone and unpredictable improvisations, the album provides a lot to enjoy for fans of his past work while remaining relevant and interesting.
He received the Arts Council Norway Honorary Award (Norwegian: Norsk kulturrï¿½ds ï¿½respris) for his artistic contribution to Norwegian culture in 2004. His daughter, Anja Garbarek, is also a musician with a few albums under her belt. She is a singer-songwriter. You can keep up with Jan’s latest tour dates on his site: www.garbarek.com