This end-of-the-millennium quartet session probably best defines all the inherent contradictions in who ECM attracts to the label – what kind of musician records for them – and what concerns these artists and ECM's chief producer (and creator) Manfred Eicher hold in common. This set, although clearly fronted by Markus Stockhausen and Arild Andersen on brass and bass, respectively, allows space for the entire quartet to inform its direction. Héral and Rypdal are not musicians who can play with just anybody; their distinctive styles and strengths often go against the grain of contemporary European jazz and improvised music. Of the 11 compositions here, four are collectively written, with two each by Andersen and Stockhausen.
Arild Andersen's trio emphasises the writing and playing of Greek pianist Vassilis Tsabropoulos, whose melodic improvising and sense of form are influenced by his background as a classical musician. Tsabropoulos's tunes, and his arrangement of Ravel here, cast the jazz ‘piano trio’ genre in another light - as do his contributions to Andersen’s pieces and the collective improvisation “European Triangle". Arild Andersen's driving bass and John Marshall's inventive drums give the music its sense of propulsion.
Box set in ECM’s acclaimed Old & New Masters series reintroduces Arild Andersen’s first three leader dates for the label – Clouds In My Head, Shimri, and Green Shading Into Blue. Recorded between 1975 and 1978, none of these albums has previously been issued on compact disc, and this edition is eagerly awaited. The music traces Andersen’s personal evolution from ‘free’-inclined bassist to bandleader-composer and introduces some players who would prove important for the future of the music – amongst them an 18-year-old Jon Balke on the “Clouds” session.
Bassist Arild Andersen may not be one of ECM's best-known bandleaders (to Americans, that is), but that hasn't stopped him from amassing an impressive catalog as one of the label's senior statesmen. Andersen himself comments in the liner notes at how fortunate and surprised he was when looking back over his catalog and realizing how many younger players graced his sides. The evidence, however, is that Andersen is too humble: his guidance is like a beacon in bringing the best out of many who would become leaders in their own right. A fine example is on "Vanilje," which opens the album and comes from the Masqualero album. Here Andersen, Jon Balke, and drummer Jon Christensen host two stunning players on the front line, young saxophonist Tore Brunborg and a fresh-faced Nils Petter Molvaer on trumpet.
Arild Andersen's Electra was composed for the Spring Theater in Athens for their production. These "18 Scenes," as they are subtitled, represent various cues and serial music for the production of Sophocles' deeply moving classic. Andersen collaborates with both European and Greek musicians here, among them the great vocalist Savina Yannatou, guitarist Eivind Aarset, drummer Patrice Heral, and trumpeter Arve Henriksen. The music is heavily arranged, taut, and spacious. Everything is understated yet utterly dramatic.
Sagn was the result of a commission for the 1990 Vossajazz festival that sealed the collaborative spirits of singer Kirsten Bråten Berg and bassist Arild Andersen. Blending folk songs from their native Norway, along with jazz and rock elements, the two shared the stage with percussionist Nana Vasconcelos, saxophonist Bendik Hofseth, pianist Bugge Wesseltoft, and guitarist Frode Alnæs. While we don’t have (so far as I’m aware) a live recording of what was surely an historic occasion, we do have this ECM studio rendition, buffed and polished to a mirror’s shine. Sagn is a massive effort, one of ECM’s fullest on a single disc, and stands as Andersen’s most personal statement to date.
Bassist Arild Andersen's epic Nordic folk and jazz fusion, with Nana Vasconcelos on percussion, Kirsten Brеten Berg on vocal, munnharpe, langeleik, Bendik Hofseth on tenor and soprano saxophones and guests Bugge Wesseltoft (voice) and Paolo Vinaccia (percussion). It's austere, sparse beauty offers a haunting sound, and gives Braten Berg an perfect platform for her voice. The moods shift constantly from cool Nordic jazz to warm Brazilian rhythms, then overlaps them in something completely original and yet somehow welcoming and familiar. Recorded in 1993, this was his final recording for KKV before moving into the ECM stable.
Bassist Arild Andersen shines as the principal soloist in a celebration of music from ECM with specially-commissioned new big-band arrangements of well-known pieces by Dave Holland, Chick Corea, Trygve Seim, Jan Garbarek, and Keith Jarrett. The resourceful Tommy Smith adds powerful tenor solos, arranges Garbarek’s “Molde Canticle”, and directs the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. Andersen’s composition “Independency” is a 16-minute highlight, in a sensitive and powerful arrangement by Mike Gibbs. Other contributing arrangers are Makoto Ozone, Christian Jacob, Geoff Keezer and Trygve Seim/Øyvind Bræke: all of them contribute sterling work, and their arrangements are likely to enter modern jazz’s big band repertory book. Recorded live at Glasgow’s Royal Conservatory, “Celebration” is a highly attractive album for a broad listenership, and as a statement about music introduced by ECM will be of special interest to long-time followers of the label.