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.
In many ways, the last volume in the ECM Rarum series of artist-chosen retrospectives is also one of its finest. Jon Christensen is the label's drummer of drummers. He has played with virtually every major leader on the roster, and his fluid, enigmatic touch has graced ECM's most outstanding recordings. Christensen has the rapacious appetite of an Elvin Jones or Roy Haynes, but combines it with the wondrously light, dancer's touch of a Billy Higgins. The nine tracks here showcase Christensen's uncanny ability to adapt, color, and in some cases even drive the vision of a bandleader toward its flourish.
Arild Andersen's Hyperborean is based on an Ancient Greek legend: according to the myth, the Hyperboreans lived beyond the north winds, where the sun god Apollo presided. Andersen has created an impressive song cycle that draws from contemporary instrumental, European jazz, jazz-rock and the distinctive ECM production sound. Andersen's playing is typically tasteful and the compositions are unpredictable and evocative, making Hyperborean another worthy addition to his catalog.
Norwegian bassist Andersen's reputation in Europe over the decades is well established. He has appeared on a number of significant recordings, most notably Jan Garbarek's SAGN, and with his own iconoclastic ensemble Masqualero. IF YOU LOOK FAR ENOUGH distills those past endeavors into a most atmospheric, spacious outing. The more traditional elements of Andersen's heritage meet face-to-face with a profoundly European free-jazz sensibility.
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.
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.