All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

603

Arild Andersen: Live at Belleville

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
The general international perception of Norway's jazz scene as "Nordic Cool," is, like most generalizations, inevitably distanced from truth. Atomic, The Core and Motif may possess no shortage of heat, but ECM has undeniably helped define that unmistakable Norwegian aesthetic. One of the "big four," brought to international attention in the early 1970s alongside guitarist Terje Rypdal, saxophonist Jan Garbarek, and drummer Jon Christensen, bassist Arild Andersen's ECM releases have largely avoided the kind of burning improvisational energy of his powerful trio disc Triptykon (1973), with Garbarek and Finnish drummer Edward Vesala. Live at Belleville—Andersen's first live album for ECM since his equally potent but stylistically different Molde Concert (1982)—recalls Triptykon's fiery intensity, but also reflects the same assimilation of traditional Norwegian music of albums including Sagn (1991).

Live at Belleville is, like Triptykon, a trio date, featuring expat Italian drummer Paolo Vinaccia and Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith. Andersen couldn't have made better choices. When Smith graduated from Berklee College of Music in the 1980s, his sound was a cogent combination of Jan Garbarek's biting tone and Michael Brecker's Americanized soulfulness. Since then his voice has become his own, but Garbarek and Brecker still loom and, while Garbarek's Mai Jazz 2008 performance in Stavanger, Norway made clear he's still capable of edgy spontaneity, Smith has stayed more clearly within definable jazz borders, playing with a stunning combination of measured lyricism and inspired improvisational abandon.

Vinaccia, a Norwegian resident for over 20 years, works regularly with Andersen and Rypdal, heard on the bassist's Electra (ECM, 2005) and guitarist's Vossabrygg (ECM, 2006). Capable of the unabashed energy required to propel Andersen's fiercely swinging "Independency Part 2"—part of the bassist's four-movement "Independency" suite celebrating Norway's 100-year liberation from its Swedish union—Vinaccia also paints with the sparest of colors on the closing "Dreamhorse," as Andersen and Smith play a folkloric melody reminiscent, in spirit, of Jim Pepper's classic "Witchi-Tai-To" over the bassist's gentle, real-time looping.

Despite its clear virtuosity, Live at Belleville demonstrates a compelling balance between reckless unpredictability and careful construction. "Independency Part 1" unfolds slowly, Andersen's robust bass tone creating such an expansive sound that, even when he's not tastefully employing electronics, it often feels larger than a trio, as he simultaneously anchors the sound and provides a melodic foil for Smith. Smith's solo builds with piercing inevitability, harsh screams balanced with economical melodicism. His thrilling duet with Vinaccia at the center of "Part 2" channels hints of Albert Ayler, an early Garbarek influence, and is an early highlight of the 75-minute set, as is the equally galvanizing bass/drums duet that follows.

With enough form to lend cohesive shape to the entire set and plenty of freedom to allow Andersen, Smith and Vinaccia to take the music where they will, Live at Belleville is Andersen's most exciting release to date. Even more, balanced with its lyrical and, at times, near-orchestral tendencies, it's the best disc of Andersen's long and varied career.

Track Listing: Independency Part 1; Independency Part 2; Independency Part 3; Independency Part 4; Prelude to a Kiss; Outhouse; Dreamhorse.

Personnel: Arild Andersen: double-bass, live electronics; Tommy Smith: tenor saxophone; Paolo Vinaccia: drums.

Title: Live At Belleville | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
  • Mira by Alberto Bazzurro
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Mira

Mira

ECM Records
2014

buy
Arild Andersen / Paolo Vinaccia / Tommy Smith: Mira

Arild Andersen /...

ECM Records
2014

buy
Arild Andersen: Celebration

Arild Andersen:...

ECM Records
2012

buy
Celebration

Celebration

ECM Records
2012

buy

Related Articles

Read Orientation CD/LP/Track Review
Orientation
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Romaria CD/LP/Track Review
Romaria
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 18, 2018
Read You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl! CD/LP/Track Review
You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!
by Jerome Wilson
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Autres Paysages CD/LP/Track Review
Autres Paysages
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Elvesang CD/LP/Track Review
Elvesang
by John Kelman
Published: February 17, 2018
Read Necessary Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Necessary Arrangements
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 17, 2018
Read "Trip" CD/LP/Track Review Trip
by James Nadal
Published: August 1, 2017
Read "Mata Hati" CD/LP/Track Review Mata Hati
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 29, 2017
Read "Platinum on Tap" CD/LP/Track Review Platinum on Tap
by Geannine Reid
Published: September 8, 2017
Read "50" CD/LP/Track Review 50
by Doug Collette
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "East West Time Line" CD/LP/Track Review East West Time Line
by Geannine Reid
Published: April 10, 2017
Read "The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke" CD/LP/Track Review The Vampires Meet Lionel Loueke
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 16, 2017