Arild Andersen – In-House Science
(ECM 6716897. CD Review by John L. Walters)
Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen is a towering presence on the European scene. His appearance at any jazz club, studio date or festival, whether as bandleader, composer or sideman, is a guarantee of quality.
His work has both gravity and lightness, qualities demonstrated by his collaborations with Jan Garbarek, Bugge Wesseltoft, Nana Vasconcelos, Markus Stockhausen, etc. and by his 1980s band Masquelero, which featured a young Nils Peter Molvær. The six-track In-House Science was recorded live at Jazzfreunde Bad Ischl in Austria, and has all the excitement and rough-hewn charm of a gig, with a big helping of full tilt blowing. Andersen’s trio, with Scottish tenor saxophonist Tommy Smith and Italian drummer Paolo Vinaccia has been playing together for more than a decade.
Stand-out pieces include Blussy, with its swaggering tune and groove (and some beautifully wayward sax harmonics) and North Of The Northwind, which employs electronics to conjure a beautifully measured tone poem. The two tracks that give the album its name, Science and In-House, are more conventional jazz trio performances – stonking ‘time, no changes’ workouts that must have been ear-bending at the gig. However it’s compositions such as Mira (the title track of the trio’s 2014 ECM album) and the aforementioned Blussy that reward repeated listening.
Andersen’s body of work supports the view that bassists often make the best bandleaders, with thoughtful, practical musical personalities that enable them to move easily in and out of the spotlight. If you’re not familiar with his music, I recommend the collection Selected Recordings: rarum 19 (spanning 1975-99), which includes work with Bill Frisell, Jon Balke and Vassilis Tsabropoulos. He was also the principal soloist in Celebration (2012), by the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra directed by Smith.
For In-House Science, that gorgeous Andersen bass sound is well captured in a spacious live recording made by engineer Alois Hummer and producer Michael Radanovics of ORF. Andersen’s solo on Venice, in which he improvises over a loping loop made using a Frisell-like echo device, is a moving highlight.