Jan Garbarek, Egberto Gismonti, Charlie Haden ‘Magico de amor’ 2CD (ECM) 4/5

This impressive trio of musiciams recorded two memorable albums for ECM in 1979 and individually were at the peak of their powers when performing live in Munich in 1981, from which this previously unreleased concert is taken. Immaculate sound quality and a reverential silence from the audience during the performance make for a thrilling experience at just under two hours with a finely balanced selection of compositions including Norwegian folk tunes, Brazilian-influenced pieces and spicy Spanish flavours contributed by Charlie Haden no less. This writer was especially taken by the Norwegian folk songs of which the simply titled ‘Folk song’ is an irresistable piece on which Garbarek in particular is in his element on soprano saxophone and Gismonti’s acoustic guitar strumming and Haden’s rambling basslines all contribute to a fine concert highlight. Another album of such material, following on from 1981’s ‘Folk songs’ album would be a welcome addition to the trio’s repertoire. Virtuoso playing by Gismonti is a feature of ‘Cego aderaldo’ which is fast-paced in parts and it should be remembered that it was during the mid-late 1970s that he cut some of his finest albums of which the trio of ‘Dança das cabecas (1976), ‘Sol de meio dia’ (1977) and ‘Solo’ (1978) are among the very best of his career thus far. Introspective and reflective hues are present on ‘Don Quixote’ with a lovely bass solo from Haden and some sensitive piano accompaniment from Gismonti. Garbarek contributes a soaring solo of his own. The second CD continues in a melodic vein with ‘Branquinho’ essentially a vehicle for Gismonti to shine while the lengthy fifteen minute ‘All that is beautiful’, penned by Haden, is in many ways a precursor to his later work fronting Quartet West and here Gismonti performs on piano. Haden’s near twenty minute piece ‘La pasionara’ receives an appropriately impassioned interpretation. The album ends on a lovely and ultimately gentle note with a reprise of the title track. Tim Stenhouse

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