Marilyn Mazur & Jan Garbarek


Review by Brad Walseth

Marilyn Mazur's name may not be immediately recognizable here in the states, despite playing with heavyweights like Miles Davis and Wayne Shorter, but she is perhaps the leading percussionist in Europe today. Born in New York, she has lived in Denmark since age 6, and has played with most of the leading European Jazz artists. For 14 years beginning in 1991, Mazur was a member of saxophonist Jan Garbarek (perhaps THE leading European Jazz artist of today)'s group. On "Elixir," Mazur solos and duets with her former leader in an intriguing new recording from ECM.

Sometimes dark and foreboding, as on the opener, "Clear," other times bright and joyous, as on the African-styled "Joy Chant," the duo clearly listen to one another well after so much time playing together. Mazur goes solo on several of the pieces, and her creativity and sense of rhythm and space is astounding. Often meditative, the dreamscape created is a pleasing one. And things even get unusually funky on "Dunun Song."

Mazur plays a wide range of instruments from around the globe to elicit interesting sonic effects. Garbarek adds some tasty flute on "Mountain Breath" and "Spirit of Air"/"Spirit of Sun" that seems especially well suited for Mazur's atmospheric directions. Throughout, the talented percussionist creates layers of sound, playing rhythms off one another and pulling the saxophonist into responding to her rhythm-based compositions. "Totem Dance" lives up to its name with Mazur's tom-toms inspiring Garbarek to make his saxophone whoop and dance. "The Siren in the Well" and "Winter Wish" move in mysterious ways, while Indian rhythms and timbres seem to drive Garabek to play snake charmer on "River." "Clear Recycle" revisits the "Clear" theme and brings this recording to a fitting full circle.

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