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.