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Sleeper [2 CD]

4.7 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 7, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

ECM is particularly pleased to present this two-disc set by one of the most outstanding groups of its era, the group often referred to as Belonging or Keith Jarrett s European Quartet , heard here in a previously unreleased concert recording from 1979. After more than three decades in the archive, this sleeper now awakes, sounding thoroughly alive and of the moment.

Sleeper is a significant addition to the group s small discography, until now comprised of the albums Belonging (1974), My Song (recorded 1977, released 1978), Nude Ants (recorded 1979), and Personal Mountains (1979, released 1989). The pieces performed by the quartet on April 16, 1979, at Tokyo s Nakano Sun Plaza were Jarrett compositions Personal Mountains , Innocence , So Tender , Oasis , Chant of the Soil , Prism and New Dance all written for this ensemble (in later years, Prism and So Tender would be reinterpreted by the Standards trio), all delivered with enormous verve. This was a group that could play very freely, and joyously, inside the melodic and rhythmic structures set up or implied by Keith Jarrett s writing, with an extraordinary and unforced sense of flow. As Jarrett said at the time: I myself, as a so-called leader, wish very, very often to blend with the other three musicians and that situation [the Belonging band] allows that, because no one is fighting with anyone else. Everyone is just trying to make the thing transparent and clear and feeling good.

Throughout Sleeper exceptional improvisational exchanges, dynamic episodes of surging energy, and lyrical passages of wild beauty abound. The interplay between Jarrett and Garbarek is uncanny, and the Danielsson/Christensen rhythm team swings wildly and delightfully. Jan Garbarek wrote about the Belonging experience in the liner notes to his Selected Recordings collection a few years ago: It was a crucial time for me as a young and relatively inexperienced musician to work closely with someone so musically advanced as Keith, and I feel I benefited tremendously from it. His touch, his chord movements, the always present rhythm, the surprising melodic turns, the ability to make the piano sing in such a unique way, complexity and simplicity, abstraction and earthiness hand in hand... I was more or less in awe the whole time, not always wanting to join in with what was going on between Keith, Palle and Jon, I just enjoyed listening to them so much! The one thing that stands out in my memory, though, was the way we would play melodies in unison, in fact I felt very much a sense of unison with the way Keith made music as a whole, as if belonging...

The Belonging quartet came together initially for the album of the same name, and the musical compatibility of its members was instantly striking. Jarrett had been well aware of these musicians since the late 1960s, had played with Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen in Norway, and his admiration for Jan Garbarek s saxophone approach had already led him to write the string music of Luminessence for Garbarek to play over.

In the five years between the first album and the end of the story Belonging played infrequently enough for Jarrett to tell one journalist that it was less an ensemble than a special event . The pianist had other pressing demands on his time, then, including tours with a demanding American quartet in the final phase of its existence, and a burgeoning concert life as a popular solo improviser. In between, there was Belonging. Jarrett wrote music for the strengths of the individual players and for the sound they created as a unit, and. the classic My Song album was recorded in 1977 after a series of nine concerts with the ECM touring festival, Evenings of Improvised Music.

Review

Recorded LIVE April 16, 1979
at Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo --ECM Records

In 1979 came the tour of Japan from which Personal Mountains and now Sleeper were drawn and, the following month, the New York concerts at the Village Vanguard that generated the Nude Ants album. And then the story was finished. As Ian Carr was to observe in his Jarrett biography, The influence of this quartet is out of all proportion to its brief life. Musicians on all instruments have been influenced and inspired by Keith Jarrett s work in general, but also by this quartet in particular. The European Quartet ceased to exist when it was at the height of its creativity. Sleeper confirms that this was indeed the case. --ECM Records
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
1
30
21:12
Album Only
2
30
10:47
Album Only
3
30
13:27
Album Only
Disc 2
1
30
28:13
Album Only
2
30
14:53
Album Only
3
30
11:15
Album Only
4
30
7:07
Album Only

Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 7, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: ECM
  • ASIN: B0085G0DH6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,780 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This remarkable recording, released over 30 years downstream from inception by ECM Records, captures the legendary, somewhat youthful Keith Jarrett "European Quartet", (also called "The Belonging Quartet" for their first album) with the highly-inventive Jan Garbarek on tenor sax and flute, and the driving, buoyant rhythmic tandem of Palle Danielsson on bass and Jon Christensen on drums in the group's last known recording session, live at Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo Japan on April 16, 1979. The songs and performances are as fresh today as they were then and are re-inventions of earlier EQ Jarrett songs. Each song is a separate sonic jewel, and some highlights are the 20 minute intense "Personal Mountains" with Danielsson and Christensen pouring on the heat for the mostly uptempo searing improvisations of Jarrett, Garbarek, and Christensen as well, eventually giving way to the early shimmering 3/4 time reflection of "Innocence". The wonderously beautiful ballad "So Tender" morphs from warm ballad to frenetic invention with Garbarek's finest solo of the date. And perhaps best of all the mercurial 28 minute "Oasis" with it's many different and wonderful dimensions, especially Garbarek's highly effective work on tenor and wooden flute and some amazing percussive Jarrett improvisations. And finally the excellence of the sizzling heavy-duty funk/gospel of "Chant of the Soil" with telling solos and support from Jarrett and Garbarek. This is my initial exposure to Keith Jarrett with this quartet and they produce fabulous, very impressive jazz that is stunning at times. My Highest Recommendation. Five INTENSE Stars! (7 tracks, based on an iTunes download; Times: Personal Mountains-21:12; Innocence-10:48; So Tender-13:27; Oasis-28:14; Chant of the Soil-14:53; Prism-11:15; and the encore New Dance-7:07. Note the actual individual track times.)
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The sleeper is activated after lying low for 33 years in the ECM vault. At that time in Japan, the American quartet with Dewy Redman had much popularity than this European quartet. My Song had imprinted their play as pop-like music for Japanese listeners. A certain Japanese critic wrote his impression on this Belonging Concert, so titled by a Japanese promotor at that time, as having good quality but personally not satisfactory in the liner notes of Mysteries. We thought the American quartet's play had much larger scale in their expression and thrilling tense in their performance. The Sleeper completely overruled our biased feeling to them.

Jan Garbarek's sound here and there reminds me of the Charles Lloyd in the late sixties. New Dance has quite similar atmosphere with Lloyd's Sombrero Sam. Flute solo in the introduction part of Oasis make Japanese recall of KAGURA or sacred Shinto music and dance. Lloyd sometimes presents similar sounds to us. My best track is continuously played Personal Mountains and Innocence, which has various colors and shapes. It starts with yelling of Garbarek in the flood of rhythm and after nearly 15 minutes brilliant melody changes into ballad. Keith shows a gospel touch piano solo. After Keith's action to search suitable sound the group settles in Scandinavian landscape.

Suddenly, I struck by a strange idea. If I only hear piano sound of this album, isn't it just like a Keith's solo concert. I heard his solo concert twice in this May. His music in here would be materialized with only his piano sound. It's quite similar with those concerts in the quality. Was this the reason why he disbanded this group, and never played with hones after that.
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Keith Jarrett's "European Quartet" always seemed to develop an almost extrasensory synergy in their playing and improvising. The range of sounds and styles meshed extremely well, and it would be welcome to hear this group (all of whom I believe are still living) perform some new material as well as some of their classics. Still not quite as pristine as "Belonging", but with so few albums by this quartet in print, it is an enthralling find.
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Recorded live in Japan in 1979 with the European Quartet, Garbarek, Danielsson and Chrisensen, is probably the best album of this Quartet. They have only two studio albums, "Belonggin" and "My song" and another two life, "Nude ants" and Personal Mountains". This two are recorded in 1979 with only weeks of diferecence. This one, "Sleeper" is the best probably because the sound mix is better. In any case this is a wonderful album, with incredible versions and with Jarret an Garbarek in perfect harmony. My only question is why ECM have wait so long time to present this real jewel. A great performance that today sound better than ever.1979 was the year for the European Quartet. Don't miss it
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This album reminds us of just how incredible these musicians were when playing together. The more I listen to it,the more convinced I am that this album places Jarrett's European group among the greatest jazz ensembles ever. Of course there will be other opinions, but I assure you that if you love Keith Jarrett (as I have for 40 years), you will love this album! Unfortunately they played together infrequently and for all to brief a period. But we can enjoy the brilliant interplay between these wonderful musicians. Thank you Keith, Jan, Palle, and Jon, and Manfred Eicher for pulling these tapes out of the vault, producing and releasing them. Keith Jarrett has many outstanding albums - this is one of his best.
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