Elixir

Marilyn Mazur, Jan Garbarek

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An album of solos and intimate duos with, as its starting point, the sound of Marilyn Mazur’s percussion instruments, collected from all over the world – each of them allowed to “speak” with its own voice – either alone or in dialogue with Jan Garbarek’s saxophones. The Danish percussionist spent 14 years on the road with the Jan Garbarek Group, appearing on albums including “I Took Up The Runes”, “Twelve Moons”, “Visible Worlds” and “Rites”, but “Elixir” marks the first time that Mazur has established the parameters for their musical collaboration. In these improvisations she continually triggers new responses from Garbarek: yearning melodies, joyful dances, meditations.

Featured Artists Recorded

June 2005, Sun Studio, Copenhagen

  • 1Clear
    (Marilyn Mazur)
    02:58
  • 2Pathway
    (Marilyn Mazur)
    02:53
  • 3Dunun Song
    (Marilyn Mazur)
    03:20
  • 4Joy Chant
    (Marilyn Mazur)
    03:08
  • 5Bell-Painting
    (Marilyn Mazur)
    00:54
  • 6Elixir
    (Marilyn Mazur)
    03:03
  • 7Orientales
    (Jan Garbarek, Marilyn Mazur)
    02:59
  • 8Metal Dew
    (Marilyn Mazur)
    02:52
  • 9Mother Drum
    (Marilyn Mazur)
    02:36
  • 10Mountain Breath
    (Jan Garbarek, Marilyn Mazur)
    01:15
  • 11Creature Walk
    (Marilyn Mazur)
    02:31
  • 12Spirit Of Air
    (Jan Garbarek, Marilyn Mazur)
    01:08
  • 13Spirit Of Sun
    (Jan Garbarek, Marilyn Mazur)
    01:55
  • 14Sheep Dream
    (Marilyn Mazur)
    01:38
  • 15Talking Wind
    (Marilyn Mazur)
    02:38
  • 16Totem Dance
    (Jan Garbarek, Marilyn Mazur)
    03:13
  • 17The Siren In The Well
    (Marilyn Mazur)
    03:27
  • 18River
    (Jan Garbarek, Marilyn Mazur)
    03:02
  • 19On The Move
    (Marilyn Mazur)
    02:24
  • 20Winter Wish
    (Jan Garbarek, Marilyn Mazur)
    04:10
  • 21Clear Recycle
    (Marilyn Mazur)
    01:57
Jazzman, Choc du mois
Consigliato da Musica Jazz
Stereoplay, Jazz CD des Monats
 
The first time I saw the shockingly powerful sprite Marilyn Mazur, she was lighting brushfires under a late-career Miles Davis electric band. But Elixir is the polar opposite, with the Danish percussionist quietly evoking alchemical magic and natural spirits, as if percussion were, indeed, a medieval potion that could transform lead to gold.
Paul de Barros, DownBeat
 
Marilyn Mazur, the Danish percussionist who has worked with some of the greatest names in jazz, has a universe of bewitching sounds at her fingertips. They encompass tuned instruments… and unpitched items… Yet solo percussion albums are difficult to pull off, however good they sound. Mazur avoids … the pitfalls by constructing Elixir from 21 short pieces, melodic, rhythmic and textural by turn, and by inviting her former boss, Jan Garbarek, to join her for half the album. These duets … contrast with dazzling, percussion-only pieces… Mazur’s tunes Clear, Dunun Song, Joy Chant and the closing Clear Recycle feature Garbarek at his melodic and moody best.
John L Walters, The Guardian
 
The protagonists here are world class, and Mazur not only engages virtuosically with an inviting range of percussion instruments, but also ensures that each track does not outstay its welcome. On almost half, including six joint, spontaneous creations, Mazur enjoys a telepathic communion with Garbarek, in fine form on tenor/soprano and flute, to add spice to the sounds she conjure up.
Ray Comiskey, Irish Times
 
Mazur had been a member of Garbarek’s road band for 14 years, so their rapport is substantial. This album can act as a souvenir of her solo spotlight sections during a typical gig, where Marilyn’s entire pan-continental kit would often be caressed or brutalised within a five or ten minute feast of percussive sensitivity. Here, though, the moods are divided into segments of two or three minutes, usually directed by whichever item she’s selected, from an exotic collection that includes waterphone, magic drum, sheep bells and udu drum. Her sonic materials range from rumbling bass skin-vibrations to tiny metallic tinklings, wobbly gongs to plinking marimbas. This is her own vision of global ethnicity, not springing authentically out of a single tradition at any one time but filtering her own improvising personality through percussive devices that she’s come to know with great intimacy. It’s jazz, folk, global and ambient in turn.
Martin Longley, Jazzreview
 
Elixir alterne vingt et une courtes plages de solos et de duos qui ont toutes leur inspiration particulière. Marilyn Mazur y déploie une superbe science des couleurs, en utilisant toutes les ressources d’une large batterie de percussions, qu’elle anime de rythmes eux aussi fort diversifiés, de telle sorte que l’impression gagne d’un voyage dans un monde aux fortes consonances ethniques qui formeraient une sorte d’espéranto de la poésie sonore. On va de surprise en surprise, avec le sentiment qu’il se passe ici quelque chose d’inouï.
Michel Contat, Télérama
 
Es sind kleine, präzise gearbeitete, ungemein klangsinnige Werkchen für Perkussionsinstrumente, die wie unter eine Hör-Lupe gelegt und genau betrachtet werden. Zugleich merkt man dem Zusammenspiel von Mazur und Garbarek Vertrautheit an, traumsicher setzt Mazur Garbareks subtil rhythmisierte Phrasierungen in ihrem eigenen Kontext ein. … Die bruchlose Intensität der Einspielung als eines ganzen Werks in 21 Partien verdankt sich der spielerisch-konzentrierten Kunst Mazurs wie der Fähigkeit beider, aus der Stille heraus ihre Musik immer wieder weiterzuspinnen.
Hans-Jürgen Linke, Frankfurter Rundschau
 
Eine Trommel und ein Blasinstrument – es gibt kaum etwas Archaischeres. Und genau hier beginnt Garbareks Einzigartigkeit wieder zu strahlen. An diesem vollkommen entkleideten musikalischen Punkt. Marilyn Mazurs Instrumenten-Arsenal umspannt Kontinente, ihr Gespür für komplexe Leichtigkeit bildet den idealen Counterpart für Garbareks Ausflüge.
Tilman Urbach, Stereo
 
Eines gleich vorweg: Wer erfahren möchte, Welch gnadenlos guter Reedsplayer Jan Garbarek ist, wer den Klangmagier aus Afric Pepperbird oder Sart neu entdecken will, der bekommt mit Elixir ein echtes Geschenk. … Der Mikrokosmos der schwerelosen Rhythmen, welche die dänische Amerikanerin auch allein mit Cymbals, Gongs, dem Marimba, dem Waterphone, indischen Kuhglocken oder dem gestrichenen Vibrafon in etwa der Hälfte der Stücke zu erzeugen vermag, entzieht Garbarek komplett den gewohnten Boden. … Blasinstrument und Trommel: eine der ältesten musikalischen Kombinationen. In den Händen dieser beiden Musiker ein lebender Organismus voller Emotionen.
Reinhard Köchl, Jazzthing
 
Das wunderbar weiträumig produzierte Album Elixir wäre auch ohne Garbareks melodiöse Beiträge ein blitzendes Klanggeschmeide geworden, gleichwohl der gemeinsame „Totem Dance“ ein Glanzstück ist. Das meiste bleibt pure Perkussion… Der Wind raunt, die Nixen ziehen uns wispernd und kichernd in die Tiefe. Musik als elementare Erfahrung!
Jens-Uwe Sommerschuh, Sächsische Zeitung Dresden
 
Auf den Punkt genau, durchdacht und doch latent ironisch, dengelt sie Chimes, Cymbals und Bells, klopft Toms, Woodblocks und Gongs, und zeichnet mit zauberhafter Leichtigkeit polyrhythmische Strukturen in die 21 Tracks. Die atmen den Duft der großen, weiten Welt, klingen mal archaisch, geradezu erdig, dann wieder ungemein modern und sprudelnd frisch. Ein grandioses Erlebnis, dieses Elixir.
Sven Thielmann, Stereoplay
 
 
 
Percussionist Marilyn Mazur spent fourteen years as a member of the Jan Garbarek Group bringing to the music her sense for colouration and atmospherics, as well as the kinetic energy that Garbarek once likened to the movement of the wind through trees - a persuasive, insistent and naturally dramatic force. She first worked with the Norwegian saxophonist in 1990 on “I Took Up The Runes” and was on hand for “Twelve Moons”, “Visible World” and “Rites” as well as hundreds of Garbarek Group concerts around the globe. In 2005, the two musicians lent their energies to the compositions of colleague Eberhard Weber for the bassist’s celebratory “Stages of A Long Journey” in 2005.

“Elixir” however marks the first time that Marilyn Mazur has herself set the stage for a collaboration with Garbarek, who appears on approximately half of the disc. In preparing for her first ECM leader date since “Small Labyrinths” (recorded 1994), Mazur weighed up her options. In her Danish homeland she plays in many contexts including, latterly, collaborations with orchestras. For the new recording, she decided to work the opposite end of the scale: “I wanted to record something improvisational and open, based on my instruments themselves and to see what would happen when I collaborated with Manfred Eicher. So one could say that this recording is ‘microcosmic’, with each instrument allowed to speak in its own voice.” Marilyn’s percussion “kit” for “Elixir” includes instruments from every continent: marimba, bowed vibraphone and waterphone, hang, bells, gongs, cymbals, magic drum, log drum, sheep bells, Indian cowbells, udu drum, various drums and metal-utensils...

After being encouraged and coaxed to ‘speak’ alone, Mazur brought her instruments into dialogues with Garbarek. “It felt great. We know each other so well, and with the outer structural framework gone we were able just to play freely together.” A wind instrument and a drum - one of the oldest of all musical combinations, employed here with great sensitivity by the two players. The music flowed, with apparent effortlessness, in a session channelled into a charming and touching programme. Mazur once said of her own music that it is not intended to be “polished and finished”, but more like “a living organism. It represents a wide dynamic spectrum, explores many emotions.” In these improvisations she continually triggers new responses from Garbarek: yearning melodies, joyful dances, and meditations.

A new DVD, “Marilyn Mazur: Queen of Percussion”, released by the Danish Film Institute, includes some footage from the Copenhagen recording of “Elixir”; in the film Mazur reflects on her affinity for jazz of the North. “There’s always been something special about Norwegian musicians... I had a curiosity, as someone who has been able to cultivate my own musical language and find my own point of expression that somehow fits with all the space that Norwegians have around them, and which has allowed them to be individualists.”

Mazur is, of course, recognised world-wide as a uniquely innovative percussionist, her international reputation sealed by her association with Miles Davis, with whom she played for almost five years. She appears on his albums “Aura” and “Live Around The World”. She also spent a year on the road with the group of Wayne Shorter, and played and recorded with Gil Evans. The long list of musicians with whom she has worked includes Bobo Stenson, John Tchicai, Nils Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Jon Balke (ECM album, “Further”), Palle Mikkelborg, Dino Saluzzi, Irene Schweizer, Peter Kowald, Arild Andersen, Charlie Mariano, Maria João, Marilyn Crispell, Eliane Elias, Marc Johnson and many others.

Marilyn Mazur was born in New York in 1955, moving with her American parents to Denmark at the age of 6. She played piano before moving to the drums in her late teens, active initially in genres from rock to theatre music as well as jazz. An innovator in the arena of “world music”, she has travelled the world and collected percussion instruments from everywhere which she plays in both ways “traditional” and personal.

The winner of numerous awards including the Jazzpar Prize, the Edition Wilhelm Hansen Composers Prize, the Ben Webster Award and a lifetime grant from the Danish National Art Foundation, as well as Norway’s Telenor Culture Prize (she is the first international artist to win this award), Marilyn Mazur continues to perform regularly with four bands of her own - Future Song (ECM album, “Small Labyrinths”), a newly configured Marilyn Mazur Group, and trios with Per Jørgensen/Anders Jormin, and Nils Petter Molvær/Dhafer Youssef.