Bill Frisell guitar
John Taylor piano
Arild Andersen double-bass
Alphonse Mouzon drums
Recorded live August 1981 at the Molde Jazz Festival, Norway
Engineer: Tore Skille
Arild Andersen created some of the most melodic jazz in the latter half of the twentieth century, and the music on this CD reissue of 1981’s (A) Molde Concert adds 20 glorious minutes of unreleased material to this historic date at the prestigious Norwegian festival. Here, the bassist is joined by names which, though now celebrated, were still fledgling at the time: guitarist Bill Frisell (still seeking out his characteristic warble among the increasingly populated trees of the 1980s), pianist John Taylor, and ex-Weather Reporter Alphonse Mouzon on drums. These days, such a line-up would create another—long out the door of wherever they might be playing. Yet if the audience’s reactions are any indication, back then it must have been a welcome surprise.
After an elastic opening, “Cherry Tree” slingshots into a set consisting entirely of Andersen originals, save for the romping “Dual Mr. Tillman Anthony” (Miles Davis) that concludes the show. From the beginning, the breadth of arrangement is apparent, Frisell laying out embracing themes as Andersen and Mouzon work double time. A tumbling Taylor spins his own brand of liquid magic into “Targeta,” bringing its blissful chording into a slow-motion groove. If every solo tells a story, then most prosaic on Molde is Frisell’s here. “Six For Alphonse” is a standout. Featuring rich interplay between guitar and piano, it also explodes with a stellar solo from Mouzon. “Nutune” is far more viscous, a creeping vessel over the helm of which hunches Andersen’s loamy bass. His subsequent duet with Frisell in “Lifelines” dances Weber-like and carries us gently into the epic “The Sword Under His Wings,” which after a few stirrings of blown leaves, spirals into a more shapely cyclone. Andersen delights with a rare arco solo before springing into a forward groove backed by Mouzon and Taylor as Frisell hurls his bends skyward. After the whimsical provincialism of “Commander Schmuck’s Earflap Hat,” the rough-hewn ore of Frisell’s strings hardens into “Koral.” The band’s inspiring precision works to a heartwarming finish that is the essence of Andersen’s soulful wit. “Cameron” bristles with Frisell’s sonic quills, each brushed back carefully with the grain, while “A Song I Used To Play” serves up a steaming bowl of nostalgia.
Andersen’s recognition of these young talents is proof of both his incisive mind and welcoming spirit. The depth of his choices is enhanced by the pristine recording, which holds up well after all these years. For those Andersen fans wanting the perfect balance of ice and fire, look no further.