If your jazz paradigm is the American black musician from a relatively deprived background, Jan Garbarek is a black swan.
Norwegian, middle class and austere in his image, Garbarek has been around, and been successful, for a long time. Initially he had a touch of one of the Knife’s favourites, the enigmatic figure of Albert Ayler, and ended up very commercially successful with stuff like Officium (OK, but…).
All this was brought on by listening to the remarkable live album, Dresden, with a quite brilliant band – special credits to Rainer Bruninghaus on piano. Europe, particularly France, Germany and Scandinavia, become a home from home for a lot of American jazzmen, who made some money and were rightly feted in a way that often didn’t happen back home. Musicians like Garbarek are in part a result of that diaspora.
Seriously, if you can’t stand bebop, free jazz, trad, all that….try Garbarek. The video is him playing live from about the same time.