Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Arild Andersen - Celebration; David Caldwell-Mason - Cold Snap

Arild Andersen w/ Tommy Smith and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra - Celebration (ECM, 2012) Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen has been a potent force on the European jazz scene for many years, as a leader, sideman and member of the collective group Masqualero. On this album he reunites with saxophonist Tommy Smith who was featured on his excellent 2008 release Live in Belleville and also recruits the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra to give the proceedings a big band flavor. The setlist for the album is made up of well known compositions from the ECM label, and the focus is clearly on Andersen whose gorgeous bass playing is featured throughout, framed by the larger band and given ample solo space. Smith gets a couple of spaces to shine as well, particularly on the blasting opener “May Dance” where the horns set the stage for a vibrantly alive tenor saxophone feature. Smith also develops a majestic statement on “Ulrikas Dans” enveloping a powerful movement from the light horns that are framing the brass and percussion. Those are the most extroverted moments on the disc, which often gives way to meditative and understated lyricism. Andersen develops a number of colors and textures on his instrument whether playing bowed or plucked and is able to weave in and out of the large band arrangements at will. The music here is very subtle and nuanced with the focus on quiet and delicate improvisation. Celebration - amazon.com

David Caldwell-Mason - Cold Snap (CD Baby, 2012) Pianist David-Caldwell Mason is an up and coming musician who has played regularly along the eastern seaboard of the United States. On his new album, he is accompanied by Ari Hoenig on bass and Kellen Harrison on drums. Strong trio interplay is the order of the day on this album, with fine original compositions allowing the band to ably support one another and step out for solo sequences. Ripe piano and supple support from bass and drums are the highlighted on tracks like “Unfold” and “Don’t Worry Mama,” developing strong collective improvisation among the intricate nature of the music. The jaunty “Single Ladies” ups the pace even further with a bright and danceable melody and a spritely set of improvised statements. “With Fear and Trembling” takes the music in the opposite direction, developing an ominous and nervous composition that develops a slow and moody feel. This was a well played album that moves easily and gracefully and the musicians show a great deal of flexibility in their development of the music. Cold Snap - amazon.com

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