Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Palle Danielsson, Jon Christensen


An astonishing double-album documentation of a great band at the peak of its powers, “Sleeper” features a complete and previously unreleased concert recording of Jarrett’s ‘European Quartet’, otherwise known as ‘Belonging’, at Tokyo’s Nakano Sun Plaza in April 1979. The pieces played, all composed by Jarrett, are “Personal Mountains”, “Innocence”, “So Tender”, “Oasis”, “Chant of the Soil”, “Prism” and “New Dance”. Exceptional improvisational exchanges, dynamic episodes of surging energy, and lyrical passages of wild beauty abound. The interplay between Jarrett and Garbarek is uncanny and the Danielsson/Christensen rhythm team swings wildly and delightfully. After more than three decades in the ECM archive, this “Sleeper”, newly mixed in Oslo, now awakes in all its glory.

Das Live-Dokument einer großen Band auf dem Zenith ihres Könnens: „Sleeper“ enthält auf zwei CDs einen kompletten und bisher unveröffentlichten Konzertmitschnitt von Jarretts europäischem Quartett der 70er Jahre, vielerorts auch unter „Belonging“ bekannt, vom April 1979 im Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokio. Gespielt werden die Jarrett-Kompositionen „Personal Mountains“, „Innocence“, „So Tender“, „Oasis“, „Chant Of The Soil“, „Prism“ und „New Dance“. Die Improvisationen sind voller verblüffender Wechselspiele, Episoden von wogender Energie und lyrischen Passagen. Das Einverständnis zwischen Jarrett und Garbarek ist geradezu übernatürlich, und das Rhythmusgespann Danielsson/Christensen swingt voll wilder Freude.
Featured Artists Recorded

April 1979, Nakano Sun Plaza, Tokyo

Original Release Date


  • CD 1
  • 1Personal Mountains
    (Keith Jarrett)
  • 2Innocence
    (Keith Jarrett)
  • 3So Tender
    (Keith Jarrett)
  • CD 2
  • 1Oasis
    (Keith Jarrett)
  • 2Chant Of The Soil
    (Keith Jarrett)
  • 3Prism
    (Keith Jarrett)
  • 4New Dance
    (Keith Jarrett)
This enthralling double album is a previously unreleased concert set from Tokyo in 1979 and features Keith Jarrett’s ‘European quartet’ of Jan Garbarek on saxes and flute, fellow Norwegian Jon Christensen on drums and Swedish bassist Palle Danielsson. The band made their last live album, Personal Mountains, on the same trip – this one covers many of the same vivid Jarrett originals, and is the better set. But you don’t need to know that history to hear the band’s exuberance over Jarrett’s teasing yet hard-rocking vamps, Garbarek’s brusque power and the rhythm section’s energy and freedom.
John Fordham, The Guardian
All seven tracks are interesting, but “So Tender” and “Chant of the Soil” are miraculous: out-there dream music of incredible drive, sensitivity and, yes, funk. Replay them for the rest of your life.
Phil Johnson, The Independent On Sunday
Seven long originals range freely through intense highs, bacchanalian revels and atmospheric ballads, and sound remarkably fresh and contemporary. A must-have add-on to the Jarrett canon.
Mike Hobart, Financial Times
Die Musik ist von einer derartig integrierten Dichte, einer überbordenden offenen Spielfreude und gleichzeitigen Kompaktheit, dass der Vergleich mit den bekannten Versionen die spontane Frische und Erfindungskraft exemplarisch vorführt. Gegenwart pur. Jarrett-Monograf Carr hat recht. Die Bedeutung dieses Quartetts war, nein: ist noch umgekehrt proportional zu seiner Kurzlebigkeit.
Peter Rüedi, Die Weltwoche
Recorded live at Tokyo’s Nakano Sun Plaza in 1979, this remarkable double album reveals anew the unique and compelling sound world of Keith Jarretts European Quartet. Having scaled the majestic heights of album opener “Personal Mountains”, you may wish to lie down in a darkened room for a while such is its blazing intensitiy. [...] Resting in the ECM archives for over three decades, Sleeper really is an unforeseen jewel in the pianist’s capacious discography.
Peter Quinn,
La Belle Enormie [...] Cet enregistrement en concert au Japon permet de combler la discograpie de ce groupe à l’esthétique unique et au lyrisme intense, pétri d’ influences folk nordiques attestées par la présence de Jan Garbarek (saxophones), Palle Danielsson ( contrebase) et Jon Christensen (battere). Alternant des pièces calmes d’une beauté mélodique à couper le souffle avec des compositions plus abstraites et complexes, Sleeper est gorgé d’une énergie optimiste et vibrante, d’une joie communicative et d’une complicité des tous les instants. [...] Plus de trente ans plus tard, cette musique est toujours aussi brûlante et fiévreuse.
Francois Chambon, So Jazz
There's something very moving about this double album. It's not just that it has emerged after 33 years albeit with a new mix, it's the sheer spirit in which the music was played all those years ago in Japan. [...] The band may never reunite, so this is not just a memento of a group that didn't record much, but it's also deep, sometimes disturbingly intense, and always involving long form improvising built around compelling themes. In the loneliness of a big city concert hall this release is a marvel and a reminder of all that's visionary about Jarrett.
Stephen Graham, Jazzwise
Sleeper is well titled. This live double album was recorded in Tokyo in April 1979, and lay unissued in the vaults for over three decades before being dusted off for this release. [...]
Featuring an entire hour-and-three-quarters concert - two sets plus an encore - Sleeper must now be considered the first-choice live album by this quartet. The pairing of Jarrett's piano with Garbarek's reeds is an inspired one. They complement each other perfectly, their exchanges bursting with infectious energy and free-flowing invention. [...] The end result is a richly varied album that seems destined to be one of the gems of Jarrett's vast discography.
John Eyles, BBC Online
ECM is particularly pleased to present this two-disc set by one of the most outstanding groups of its era, the group often referred to as ‘Belonging’ or Keith Jarrett’s ‘European Quartet’, heard here in a previously unreleased concert recording from 1979. After more than three decades in the archive, this “sleeper” now awakes, sounding thoroughly alive and of the moment.

“Sleeper” is a significant addition to the group’s small discography, until now comprised of the albums “Belonging” (1974), “My Song” (recorded 1977, released 1978), “Nude Ants” (recorded 1979), and “Personal Mountains” (1979, released 1989). The pieces performed by the quartet on April 16, 1979, at Tokyo’s Nakano Sun Plaza were Jarrett compositions – “Personal Mountains”, “Innocence”, “So Tender”, “Oasis”, “Chant of the Soil”, “Prism” and ”New Dance” – all written for this ensemble (in later years, “Prism” and “So Tender” would be reinterpreted by the “Standards” trio), all delivered with enormous verve. This was a group that could play very freely, and joyously, inside the melodic and rhythmic structures set up or implied by Keith Jarrett’s writing, with an extraordinary and unforced sense of flow. As Jarrett said at the time: “I myself, as a so-called leader, wish very, very often to blend with the other three musicians and that situation [the Belonging band] allows that, because no one is fighting with anyone else. Everyone is just trying to make the thing transparent and clear and feeling good.”

Throughout “Sleeper” exceptional improvisational exchanges, dynamic episodes of surging energy, and lyrical passages of wild beauty abound. The interplay between Jarrett and Garbarek is uncanny, and the Danielsson/Christensen rhythm team swings wildly and delightfully. Jan Garbarek wrote about the Belonging experience in the liner notes to his Selected Recordings collection a few years ago: “It was a crucial time for me as a young and relatively inexperienced musician to work closely with someone so musically advanced as Keith, and I feel I benefited tremendously from it. His touch, his chord movements, the always present rhythm, the surprising melodic turns, the ability to make the piano sing in such a unique way, complexity and simplicity, abstraction and earthiness hand in hand… I was more or less in awe the whole time, not always wanting to join in with what was going on between Keith, Palle and Jon, I just enjoyed listening to them so much! The one thing that stands out in my memory, though, was the way we would play melodies in unison, in fact I felt very much a sense of unison with the way Keith made music as a whole, as if belonging…”

The Belonging quartet came together initially for the album of the same name, and the musical compatibility of its members was instantly striking. Jarrett had been well aware of these musicians since the late 1960s, had played with Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen in Norway, and his admiration for Jan Garbarek’s saxophone approach had already led him to write the string music of “Luminessence” for Garbarek to play over.

In the five years between the first album and the end of the story Belonging played infrequently enough for Jarrett to tell one journalist that it was less an ensemble than a ‘special event’. The pianist had other pressing demands on his time, then, including tours with a demanding American quartet in the final phase of its existence, and a burgeoning concert life as a popular solo improviser. In between, there was Belonging. Jarrett wrote music for the strengths of the individual players and for the sound they created as a unit, and. the classic “My Song” album was recorded in 1977 after a series of nine concerts with the ECM touring festival, “Evenings of Improvised Music.”

In 1979 came the tour of Japan from which “Personal Mountains” and now “Sleeper” were drawn and, the following month, the New York concerts at the Village Vanguard that generated the “Nude Ants” album. And then the story was finished. As Ian Carr was to observe in his Jarrett biography, “The influence of this quartet is out of all proportion to its brief life. Musicians on all instruments have been influenced and inspired by Keith Jarrett’s work in general, but also by this quartet in particular. The European Quartet ceased to exist when it was at the height of its creativity.” “Sleeper” confirms that this was indeed the case.