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Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Palle Danielsson & Jon Christensen

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.

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