Half a decade ago, the visionary in Manfred Eicher met the marketing man head-on and the first collaboration between ECM's most popular artists - and an album called Officium - bridged the outwardly alien worlds of mediaeval ecclesiastical vocal harmony and Jazz saxophone. Garbarek's purity and economy of sound and his independence from the rhythmic history of Jazz allowed his saxophones to sing a fabulously evocative descant to the four Hilliard vocalists stunning recreations of vocal music before the Renaissance.
Officium became a worldwide success, and this year the collaboration is on tour around the world to support a new double CD recorded once again in the Austrian alpine monastery of St Gerold that mid-wifed Officium.
Mnemosyne means memory in pre-Christian Greek, and the five musicians work with more than 2,000 years of Western music - sometimes whole pieces, sometimes just fragments scribbled in the margins of a psalter, or, this time, new pieces by Garbarek himself that demand this most ancient of styles reinvent itself as improvisation and jazz.
Officium remains a stunning, breakthrough recording. For the jazz fan, Mnemosyne moves the magic up a notch. If you haven't had the experience yet, do yourself the favour soon.
The first jazz record I bought was Bill Evans' Sunday at the Village Vanguard. When I was in high school, I somehow stumbled
across the track My Man's Gone Now and was instantly transfixed. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever heard. So I saved up
(times were hard for a teenager back then) and went out and bought the album.
Login to your All About Jazz member account to submit articles and press releases, upload images, edit musician profiles, add events and business listings, communicate with other members via personal messages, submit inqueries or contribute any content.