Kim Kashkanian In Praise of Dreams (with Jan Garbarek and Manu Katché)

[ECM; 2004]

Styles: instrumental jazz, contemporary jazz
Others: James Carter, Keith Jarrett, Charles Lloyd

On an album comprised of eleven originals, saxophonist Jan Garbarek is joined by violist Kim Kashkanian and drummer Manu Katché. The resulting release, In Praise of Dreams, is rife with long, singable, often catchy melodies. While no stranger to musical experimentation, Garbarek, hasn't been nearly as avant-garde in style as some of his contemporary jazz colleagues. However, this trio date is a particularly accessible and appealing example of his work.

In addition to playing tenor and soprano saxophones, Garbarek also supplies keyboards and programs samplers, providing an often lush background ambience. That said, the pleasing sonic quality of this recording in no way indicates a lack of musical exploration or ambition. Garbarek's compositions may be relatively thematic in structure, but these performances include fulsome improvisation from all three performers. I particularly like when Garbarek and Kashkanian play duets, as on "One Goes There Alone," weaving an intricate and contrapuntal game of musical tag.

The title track has an indelibly memorable hook, and also features a heavy, somewhat hip-hop influenced groove from Katché. The drummer's background in world beat and rock contexts (with such artists as Peter Gabriel and Afro Celt Sound System) is a pivotal component, providing focus and pop music phrasing in many of the pieces on the album. In other places, such as on "Iceburn," Kashkanian's lustrous tone and classical training push the album towards an elegant, pithy sort of chamber music. That said, it is Garbarek's singular saxophone playing style and soloist's presence that guides this release through a varied musical terrain, invariably with interesting results.

1. As Seen from Above
2. In Praise of Dreams
3. One Goes there Alone
4. Knot of Place and Time
5. If you go Far Enough
6. Scene from afar
7. Cloud of Unknowing
8. Without Visible Sign
9. Iceburn
10. Conversation with a stone
11. A tale begun

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