Masqualero was the Arild Andersen Quintet by another name, a name that both tipped its hat to Wayne Shorter while casting its gaze toward a future that was decidedly Andersen’s. Note the formidable cast of up-and-comers: Nils Petter Molvær on trumpet, Tore Brunborg on saxophones, and Jon Balke on keys. Add to that Jon Christensen on drums, and one can hardly go wrong. Andersen himself flexes his compositional muscles on three cuts, filling each with his depth of tone. Yet his presence is, as ever, non-invasive, and allows a porous democracy to seep through.
This reissue of Fusion and Thesis, the two albums the new Jimmy Giuffre 3 made in 1961, prior to their breakthrough and breakup in 1962, is nothing short of a revelation musically. Originally produced by Creed Taylor, who was still respectable back then, the two LPs have been complete remixed and remastered by ECM proprietor and chief producer Manfred Eicher and Jean Philippe Allard and contain complete material from both sessions resulting in one new track on Fusion and three more on Thesis.
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.
Three years after leading Aero, Arild Andersen’s Masqualero outfit—by now a quartet with Jon Christensen on drums, Tore Brunborg on saxophones, and Nils Petter Molvaer on trumpet—returned to ECM’s Rainbow Studio with a solid follow-up. On this outing the band seems most comfortable in its shoes, and uses that confidence to travel more abstract avenues of expression. The strident opening statement in the title cut is a case in point, for its conventions quickly slide down a banister of drums into a groovy bass line, mere preamble to some wild conversation between Molv?r and Brunborg, who rock that fulcrum with unrelenting conviction.
Though in step with its time, this release suffers from excessive reliance on ambient synthesizers, which litter much of the recording, rendering it only slightly more interesting than many of the Windham Hill new age recordings of the same era. Unfortunate, because the disc opens with strength and gradually peters out by the end. The disc opens with "He Came From the North," which features a melody based on a traditional Lapp joik from the artist's native Norway and progresses into a longer section with an interplay that is both sparse and rhythmic. The sax line here is astonishingly beautiful. The second piece, "Alchuri, the Song Man," a sax and percussion piece, is energetic and lively as well. And from here the energy gradually diminishes. Much can be attributed to popular styles of the time, but this release simply does not stand up to other music of its genre that came later.
A thunderous recording by saxophonist Liebman from the year 1974. Here the American saxophonist - and friends Abercrombie and Beirach - are flanked by no less than eight drummers and percussionists. To listen to 'Drum Ode' is to swim in waves of rhythms, cross-rhythms, polyrhythms, to be carried along by tidal beats. At the time when he made 'Drum Ode', Liebman was playing with the Miles Davis Group in its most electric/tribal groove period, and Miles's influence is clearly discernible here.
In addition to his solo piano concerts and the American group he led that featured tenor saxophonist Dewey Redman, Keith Jarrett was also busy in the mid-'70s with his European band, a quartet comprised of Jan Garbarek on tenor and soprano, bassist Palle Danielsson, and drummer Jon Christensen. Due to the popularity of the haunting "My Song," this album is the best known of the Jarrett-Garbarek collaborations and it actually is their most rewarding meeting on record. Jarrett contributed all six compositions and the results are relaxed and introspective yet full of inner tension.
There is a lot of music on this set, including the 30-minute "Oasis." This is a Live at the Village Vanguard recording by pianist Keith Jarrett and his European quartet (Jan Garbarek on soprano and tenor, bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Jon Christensen). The pianist very much dominates the music but Garbarek's unique floating tone on his instruments and the subtle accompaniment by Danielsson and Christensen are also noteworthy.
British pianist Django Bates returns to ECM with one of his very finest constellations, the trio Belovèd, with Swedish bassist Petter Eldh and Danish drummer Peter Bruun, and an aptly named album, "The Study of Touch". All three musicians are highly individual players, subtly challenging the conventions of the jazz piano trio.
Animato is not so much John Abercrombie's date simply because his name is listed first alphabetically. It is much more the music of Vince Mendoza, who composed six of the eight selections, and whose work on synthesizer is the dominant voice on this set of ethereal progressive instrumental music. Drummer Jon Christensen takes no backseat in urging the music forward with a subtle presence that represents a distinct primal and tribal jazz element. What electric guitarist Abercrombie does is link with Mendoza, merging his own synthesized blends of earth, sky and space to create beautiful textures and soundscapes in tandem with Mendoza's conceptual arrangements and expanded color palates.