Arild Andersen: Lifelines (ECM 1188)

ECM 1188

Arild Andersen

Arild Andersen double bass
Kenny Wheeler fluegelhorn, cornet
Steve Dobrogosz piano
Paul Motian drums
Recorded July 1980 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

After an explosive introduction, Arild Andersen’s Lifelines kicks us like a soccer ball down the field of “Cameron,” where we are intercepted by Steve Dobrogosz’s swirling keys. Into this hammered storm, Andersen drops his bass, keeping us centered in this staggering opener. And staggering this album most certainly is, resting on a fine edge of airtight cohesion and loosened seams. We find more of the same in the loveliness of “Dear Kenny” and in “A Song I Used To Play,” both teetering on a line drawn to Andersen’s careful scale. Even the ballads seem to flirt with a great precipice. Falling from the haloed clouds of “Prelude” and into the depths of the two-part title piece, we find ourselves smack dab in Enrico Rava territory. The album’s highlight comes in the form of “Landloper,” a 50-second bass solo that sparks the inner fire of “Predawn.” In keeping with his penchant for optimistic endings, Andersen gives us “Anew.” Paul Motian is delightfully frenetic here and matched by Dobrogosz’s erratic song, veiled only by the sustain pedal’s illusory veneer.

What moves me most about Andersen’s approach to the bass is his ability to hold onto a quiet heart even at his most ecstatic moments. Like ECM’s other great veteran, Charlie Haden, he always keeps himself firmly rooted in the melody. Wheeler and Motian prove loyal allies, regaling us like wizened elders with tales of old. The real star of this date, however, is Dobrogosz. In his only ECM appearance, the American-born pianist (now a longtime resident of Stockholm) seems as if he could expound for hours upon every motif and never repeat himself. He is the kindling that keeps this music burning, slow-roasting it to irresistible succulence.

<< Rainer Brüninghaus: Freigeweht (ECM 1187)
>> Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition: Tin Can Alley (ECM 1189)

5 thoughts on “Arild Andersen: Lifelines (ECM 1188)

  1. I love it! This is what I think of is a rather experimental period of ECM releases – with quite a few of them tantalizingly called “imports” back in the day (hence very hard to find) – this, Barre Phillips “Music By…” – all we would often get is an image of the cover graphics and list of artists, which of course was like torture for those of us who wanted to get their hands (and ears!) on everything released.

    I found a small NY Jazz shop which managed to carry most of the imports, so I did get lucky with most of them (missing the two Lasks….but of course I now have…thanks TG!). So it was with delight that I purchased this one, with its enigmatic cover (broken box of records, of all things!). I used listen to it often on the fading cassette tape that I transferred the LP onto during the first (and only) spin. Now I must return to listen to it again to compare with your notes – I do recall enjoying it very much. Thanks for the review and the memories!


    …publish this marvelous record as a CD (or as a download (by Amazon))…

    …I´m waiting for this since over 30 years!!!

    …for me “Lifelines” ist one of the best Records ECM (and Arild Andersen) evere made…and “Dear Kenny” is my all-time-favourite-song…

  3. Now it can even be enjoyed in full 96 /24 glory from Qobuz. Great! Now I will try to hunt a good vinyl copy.

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