Masqualero: Bande À Part (ECM 1319)

 

Masqualero
Bande À Part

Arild Andersen basses
Nils Petter Molvær trumpet
Tore Brunborg saxophones
Jon Balke piano, synthesizer
Jon Christensen drums, percussion
Recorded August and December 1985 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher and Masqualero

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. The skipping snare and soaring trumpet of “3 For 5” throw a lacy net over Balke’s gorgeous strains, leaving us buffed for the varnish of “Natt.” In this we find one spiral after another, sliding down the throat of the freely improvised “Sort Of” before cresting on the wave of “Vanilje.” Andersen digs deep for this one, excavating cloudy jewels of wisdom. Balke’s “Bali” is especially moving and finds unity in Brunborg’s horn. A rolling drum solo closes this frenetic weave. Christensen throws his compositional hat into the ring with “Tutte,” a stretch of arco strains and slow tumbles. Molvær does likewise with “No Soap (A Jitterbug Jamboree),” another stunner that glows at the edges. “Nyl,” Balke’s other offering, draws a protracted groove, indicated by bass and then set free into an expanse of vocal energy.

The strength of Bande À Part lies in the writing, ever rooted in the soil of reflection. Andersen’s is a sound-space where we may float or lie prone as we see fit, laughing and crying in the same breath. An essential release for Andersen enthusiasts that speaks to the heart of his craft.

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