Renowned Norwegian saxophonist Garbarek has vicariously explored modes of Norwegian folksongs, traditional jazz, and other different aspects of multi-cultural ethnic music. RAGAS AND SAGAS is a bold, enticing journey down the timbral planes of Indian music, augmented by the resonant voices of Deepika Thathaal and Ustad Fateh Ali Khan as well as stellar tabla work by Ustad Shaukat Hussain, and, guesting on drums on the deeply spiritual "Saga," Manu Katche.
Garbarek's languid tones play themselves out in an extremely reserved fashion, often letting the percussion and sarangi, a 39-string Indian violin, hold down the rhythm and anchor the spatial compositions. Hypnotic, almost trance-inducing, and certainly smacking of vast distances and regions, RAGAS AND SAGAS sidesteps the basic tenets of what constitutes "jazz," per se, as Garbarek eloquently juxtaposes his native musical instincts against the melodic splendor of Indian culture. Endlessly fascinating ritualistic music of high caliber and insight, RAGAS AND SAGAS is further proof of Garbarek's resiliency as a musician not content to rest on his laurels, but rather one who bravely opens doors, steps over the threshold, and convincingly embraces fundamental musical concepts.
Q (1/93, p.80) - 3 Stars - Good - "...The overall strategy is liberal to a degree, the Pakistani musicians doing their stuff while Garbarek interjects melodic solos..."
Down Beat (3/93, p.34) - 4 Stars - Very Good - "...Garbarek's churning tenor phrasings find a propulsive counterpart in Ustad Shaukat Hussain's tabla, while his limpid soprano lyricism melds with the otherworldly voices of Ali Khan and Deepika Thathaal..."
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