Thursday, May 07, 2009

Arild Andersen - Live at Belleville (ECM, 2009)

Bassist Arild Andersen has been a presence on the European jazz scene since the late 1960's leading his own bands and performing with the likes of Jan Garbarek. Long associated with the ECM label, he pushes against the notion of music on that label having a particular airy and light "sound" with a burning live album of post-bop jazz. Along with Andersen (who also adds some electronics) are Tommy Smith on tenor saxophone and Paolo Vinaccia on drums. The album has a four part suite called "Interdependency," part one of which opens with percussive bass and probing sax looking for an opening into the music, saxophone building and the bass getting an appealing elastic tone. Part two was the highlight of the album for me, an awesome performance featuring Smith on an emotional overblown saxophone solo. His strong burning post-bop exploration is complemented by an excellent bass and drums interlude. Part three slows things back down and makes the music spacier, with some long form sax lines and bass augmented by electronics which provide a framework for the music. Part four ends the lengthy suite with swinging saxophone, dynamically adding some overblowing before moving back to swing. Duke Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss" follows with Smith exploring the song and improvising at a nice mellow pace before slowly increasing the tempo. "Outhouse" opens with percussion, before the bass and saxophone build in. Sax bursts forth like blinding sun through clouds, strong and fast with an awesome solo. Smith is just on fire throughout this album, he is someone I would really like to investigate more, he has a very exciting tone and the dramatic and dynamic way in which he organizes his solos is very appealing. "Dreamhorse" concludes the album with a melodic and folk-like performance featuring mellow bass and melodic and elegiac saxophone. I liked this album a lot, the music was very exciting and fresh, and the variety was quite compelling. The openness of the trio setting allowed all three musicians adequate space for soloing and for collective playing. But it was Mr. Smith that was the revelation for me, hopefully this will be a springboard for him getting some recognition and recording opportunities.
Live at Belleville -

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