All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review


Jan Garbarek / The Hilliard Ensemble: Officium Novum

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Track review of "Litany"

At first blush, there is really no reason the eutection of early a capella music and modern saxophone should work. It is antithetical, it makes no sense. However, wizards like Manfred Eicher, saxophonist and ECM stalwart Jan Garbarek, and early music mavens The Hilliard Ensemble not only defy the odds, they redefine them with a bit of creative musical alchemy. An adjective that meets at the intersection of ECM, Garbarek, and the Hilliards is atmospheric. Witness the reception of Officium (ECM, 1994) and Mnemosyne (ECM, 1999).

Officium Novum continues this unlikely success with a collection of Armenian music, evolved from the adaptations of Komitas Vardapet, compositions with feet in both medieval sacred music, and the bardic tradition of the Caucasus. "Litany"—a three-part composition, and the longest piece on the release—brings together the muses of spiritual and musical affinity: "Otche Nash," from the Lipovan Old Believers tradition, which is preceded by a fragment of the "Litany" of Nikolai N. Kedrov, a student of Rimsky Korsakov, founder of the Kedrov Quartet, and composer of much music for Orthodox choirs.

The Hilliard Ensemble approaches the triptych boldly, with Garbarek providing vaporous soprano improvisation over the ensemble, adding an acute awareness to the voices, while becoming a part of the vocal group. The kinetics of the piece are sharpened with Garbarek's stratospheric thoughts, transmogrified into musical notes approximating a prayer.

Track Listing: Ov zarmanali; Svjete tihij; Allting finns; Litany: Litany, Otche nash tradition, Dosoino est; Surp; Most Holy Mother of God; Tres morillas m'enamoran; Sirt im sasani; Hays hark; Alleluia Nativitas; We are the stars.

Personnel: Jan Garbarek: soprano and tenor saxophones; David James: countertenor; Rogers Covey-Crump: tenor; Steven Harrold: tenor; Gordon Jones: baritone.

Title: Officium Novum | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: ECM Records


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Peaks of Light CD/LP/Track Review
Peaks of Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Denmark I Was Born CD/LP/Track Review
In Denmark I Was Born
by Gareth Thompson
Published: March 18, 2018
Read In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983 CD/LP/Track Review
In Copenhagen - Live at Jazzhus Slukefter 1983
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read A Year Ago Today CD/LP/Track Review
A Year Ago Today
by Doug Collette
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Dreams of Belonging CD/LP/Track Review
Dreams of Belonging
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 18, 2018
Read Ravensburg CD/LP/Track Review
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: March 17, 2018
Read "Duo (DCWM) 2013" CD/LP/Track Review Duo (DCWM) 2013
by John Sharpe
Published: July 28, 2017
Read "Ljubljana" CD/LP/Track Review Ljubljana
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 2, 2017
Read "The Better Angels of Our Nature" CD/LP/Track Review The Better Angels of Our Nature
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "Signaling" CD/LP/Track Review Signaling
by Troy Dostert
Published: May 11, 2017
Read "Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "Wanderlust" CD/LP/Track Review Wanderlust
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 23, 2017