Born in Norway in 1947, Jan Garbarek started playing the saxophone at the age of 14, as he first heard John Coltrane on the radio. In 1962, he won a competition for amateur jazz players, which may be considered as the starting point of his career. Garbarek worked steadily in Norway throughout the remainder of the 1960s usually as a leader but also for four years with the jazz composer and theoretist George Russell.
Garbarek began recording avant-garde albums in the end of the 1960s, as Manfred Eicher asked him to join the group of artists for his label ECM. He rose to international fame in the mid-1970s playing post-bop jazz both as a member of and a leader of Keith Jarrett's successful European Quartet.
In 1979 first recorded his first album (Photo with Blue Sky) with the Jan Garbarek Group. He also achieved considerable commercial success in Europe with Dis, a meditative collaboration with guitarist Ralph Towner that featured the distinctive sound of a wind harp on several tracks. Selections from Dis have been used as incidental music in several feature films and documentaries. In the 1980s Jan Garbarek's music incorporated more synthesizers and world music. His groups included bassist Eberhard Weber and guitarists Bill Frisell and David Torn.
In 1993 Jan collaborated with the Hilliard Ensemble, a vocal quartet singing Renaissance music, and made the album Officium which became one of ECM's biggest-selling albums of all time, -and also one of the most important recordings of his career) reaching the pop charts in several European countries. Its sequel Mnemosyne followed in 1999. In 2005, his album In Praise of Dreams was nominated for a Grammy, and he did the music for Kippur. In addition to the selections from Dis, Garbarek has also composed music for several other European films, including French and Norwegian films, and his song Rites was used in the American film The Insider.
Jan Garbarek is well-known for his clear and icy tone with liberal use of space and long tones, for his compositions exploring varied types music, including Norwegian folk songs, medieval polyphonies and jazz. In the field of contemporary music, the focused sounds of his tenor and soprano saxophones have become instantly recognizable
Jan Garbarek is playing