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Dreams from the Midnight Sun
Dreams from the Midnight Sun
Saxophonist Jan Garbarek reaches for the mystical on his new CD. Jan Garbarek
In Praise of Dreams (ECM)
There are many musicians who see music with borders and attempt to break them down. Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek doesn't see boundaries at all, as he passes through gateways and crosses over borders without acknowledgment. I first heard him in the early 1970s blowing torrid, Coltrane-inspired solos across the knotty compositions of jazz composer George Russell. Soon thereafter, Garbarek joined the nascent ECM Records and quickly became one of their flagship artists, creating a uniquely atmospheric brand of jazz.

In the intervening three decades, he's recorded gothic hymns with the Hilliard Ensemble, reconstructed Norwegian folk music and played chamber jazz with pianist Keith Jarrett. Garbarek's collaborators include Tunisian oud players, Indian sitarists and Sami singers. He's also had a penchant for making atmospheric records that owe little to jazz. Albums like To All Those Born With Wings were studio constructions with Garbarek over-dubbing saxophones and playing keyboards in moody tone poems.

In Praise of Dreams is in that tradition. Garbarek reaches for the mystical on this album of haunting chamber themes, playing across rhythm loops, spare percussion from Manu Katch┐ and the almost nostalgic sounding viola of Kim Kashkashian. He orchestrates many of his improvisations off Kashkashian's viola, echoing her melody lines, then spiraling out with a soprano sound that cuts to the core and tenor saxophone that seems to smolder on lava fields. In this case the lava fields are distinctly chilled grooves. Partly a hymn, partly a call to an interior world, In Praise of Dreams is a gothic hymn in a cathedral of the imagination.