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Witchi-Tai-To

14 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 7, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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This 1974 session by the Garbarek-Bobo Stenson quartet is an important chapter in the rise of the ECM style, a shift toward a more spacious, deliberated music. Although the tunes are drawn from mostly American jazz sources and the influence of the John Coltrane quartet looms large, it's also beginning to define a distinctively Scandinavian style, a combination of cool textures, open harmonies, and intense lyricism. It comes as much from the rhythm section as from Garbarek's own linear, melodic focus, with pianist Stenson, and bassist Palle Danielsson using spare ostinatos in support and drummer Jon Christensen coloring the music with cymbals and brushes. They're heard in a well-balanced program, with each piece revealing another facet of the group. Garbarek's soprano is a keening presence on Carla Bley's "A.I.R.," while his tenor is all brooding Spanish passion on Carlos Puebla's "Hasta Siempre," propelled by Christensen's march rhythms. Danielsson's "Kukka," the sole original, is highlighted by the bassist's own melodic solo, while hints of the blues suffuse Stenson's spare opening to Jim Pepper's "Witchi-Tai-To." The 20-minute version of Don Cherry's "Desireless" has a majestic, unfolding lyricism that's both distinctive and the CD's strongest homage to the Coltrane style. --Stuart Broomer

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8:18
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4:37
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8:15
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 7, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ECM
  • ASIN: B0000260IY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #235,537 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By nctomatoman on December 7, 2000
Format: Audio CD
My roommate at college introduced me to the ECM label through Keith Jarrett's Koln Concert and two very obscure releases from a bass player named Barre Phillips - Mountainscapes and Three Day Moon (all 3 releases named above are highly recommended, by the way!). This marked my conversion from rock music to jazz, and I set out to the local bookstore to browse the bins (we are talking 21 years ago, so one could still enjoy flipping the album covers). I decided to purchase 3 ECM jazz releases - Ralph Towner's Solstice, Sound and Shadows (superb!), the John Abercrombie Quartet, and Jan Garbarek's Witchi-Tai-To.
I am embarrassed to relate how many ECMs I now have in my collection, but it can be assured that Witchi-Tai-To remains a very important centerpiece, music that stands the test of time and always sounds fresh and challenging. The first cut, A.I.R. (all-India Radio), is a reworking of a Carla Bley tune that first appeared in a very different format and sound on the bizarre but wonderful Escalator Over The Hill. A great tune, and superb way to start the CD. Tunes 2 and 3 are fine, but the real gems are Jim Pepper's Witchi-Tai-To (which you could hum all day, as it drills itself into your memory), and the great tune Desireless. Garbarek plays more tenor on this release than he currently does, and his tone is warm and rich, though not cloying at all. The rhythym section of Palle Daniellsen (bass) and Jon Christensen (drums) is still the one of choice for those who record on ECM - just great, great players. And, Bobo Stenson, at the time of the recording somewhat obscure, is now perhaps THE piano player most desired for recording sessions on ECM. If you own or have heard this CD, I am telling you nothing new. If you do not own it, do yourself and your ears a favor...and buy it!
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Gavin Wilson on April 29, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Although this album was recorded in 1973 by four young, then relatively unknown, Nordic jazz musicians, I didn't get to hear it until 1977 when a student I met at a Weather Report concert introduced me to the LP. It blew my mind, and I have been steadily accumulating Jan Garbarek albums ever since.
For me, this is one of the least Nordic of my Garbarek albums. He wrote none of the tracks himself -- highly uncharacteristic of his output over the past 20 years -- and indeed most were written by American jazz composers, such as Cherry and Bley (C.). Only one track was written by a band member: Palle Danielsson's 'Kukka', a title which sounds like a piece of furniture you can buy from IKEA.
As an LP, this was a highly unbalanced selection. Side Two was simply magnificent, so Side One hardly got played at all, even though it contained at least two decent tracks. Hopefully with CD, tracks 1-3 should get a fairer hearing.
But tracks 4 and 5 are gorgeous. For me, this is the definitive version of 'Witchi-Tai-To' -- although Garbarek commemorated it by re-recording it for the ECM anniversary special CD, 'Twelve Moons'. It's probably Stenson's delicate piano-playing that makes it for me. And then comes the sublime 'Desireless', in which Garbarek alternates between harsh and beautiful tones on the intro, and then we get a very solid groove delivered by the bass, quite unlike anything else that I own of Garbarek's. After a wonderfully long piece of interplay between bass, piano and drums, Garabarek re-enters and, to my mind, messes it up. It's unusual for me to rate a piece so highly when I dislike a passage within it, but I guess it shows how strong most of it is.
Fans who only found Garabarek in the 1990s will be very pleased by this album of twenty years earlier. The standard of musicianship is just as high, and the sound is just ... well, different. As you might expect of an older recording, there is some tape hiss on the quieter passages.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 31, 2001
Format: Audio CD
My number one Jazz album of all time. Co-leaders Jan Garbarek and Bobo Stenson make possibly the best use of the ECM 'house rhythm section' (Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen) on a wonderful selection of 'non-Standard' compositions. The spotlight is shared the group and the compositions (including one by bassist Danielsson.) Stunning intuitive interplay, passionate intensity and heart-wrenching beauty;
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sumatriptan on April 20, 2001
Format: Audio CD
A "state-of-the-art" album by Garbarek & Co. Was recorded the same year as the famous "BELONGING" with the same rhythm-section (Palle Danielsson-bass, Jon Christensen-drums) but with swedish Bobo Stenson on piano instead of Keith Jarrett. This Garbarek is soo different from Garbarek in Jarrett's quartets (more Coltrane-ian, less restrained) yet he still yields a great performance. HASTA SIEMPRE is my favorite piece - a kind of Scandinavian Flamenco, has the same chrod progression (Am-G-F-E). Also check another version of Jim Pepper's Witchi-Tai-To, a piece recorded several times by Garbarek (also on TWELVE MOONS) and Ralph Towner & OREGON (albums WINTER LIGHT, OUT OF THE WOODS, etc.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By the way I see it on April 28, 2010
Format: Audio CD
This CD is flat out gorgeous. It is substantive enough for seasoned jazz listeners to listen to time and again yet melodic enough for neophytes. It is truly one of the most beautiful CDs I have heard from beginning to end. All the songs are lovely, but "Desireless" is my personal favorite. What a gorgeous, gorgeous tune! It is hauntingly beautiful and almost compels me to use a descriptor I don't like to use: spiritual. I will conclude by saying that if I were trapped on a desert island (with a good sound system, of course) and could only have ten CDs with me, this is one I would defintely include. It is also among the top ten CDs I would recommend to someone who has not heard much, if any, jazz. Of course, like many jazz listening veterans, I would start this person off with Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, but Witchi-Tai-To wouldn't be too far behind.
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