Arild Andersen found one of his clearest avenues of expression with Masqualero, a group that brought him notably together with trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer, saxophonist Tore Brunborg, and drummer Jon Christensen. On Aero, the group’s second album for ECM, he is joined also by Frode Alnaes, whose looming drones ebb and flow throughout the title opener, which seems to materialize out of nothing into a looming figure of delicate comportment and elegant mind. It is this figure whose footsteps Andersen articulates. In “Science” this figure shows us it can dance, fashioning a partner out of snatches of rain and cloud, autumn and snowdrift. The confidence of that stride is expressed in the superb dynamic contrasts of the band, only to be unraveled through Brunborg’s platonic soprano into a sonorous vulnerability.
Bailey's first recorded solo performance in seven years is a splendid example of the guitarist at his finest. Two of the ten pieces are from a live concert, including an eerily attractive poetry recital by Bailey of Peter Riley's morbid "Dead She Dances." The other eight selections are short studio cuts. In all, this recording is what we have come to expect from Bailey: atonal swatches of sound, unique styling, changes in tempo, and astonishing creative splashes of acoustic guitar. Patterns emerge, dissolve, fade, and reappear, with the unexpected always the norm. Bailey's unique excursions might be compared to musical approximations of abstract expressionist art, with each number unfolding in unanticipated ways. While the highlight of this CD is Bailey's recital, in which he accompanies himself on guitar, there are plenty of wonderful moments on every track.