Arild Andersen


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On Shimri, musical release floats in suspension, grooves are coyly offered then withdrawn, swing is used sparingly, subtly, making only an occasional splash in the ripples of intimate conversation among the members of Arlid Andersen's outstanding quartet. These traits form both the quandary and the appeal of this 1976 LP. Call it the tantric sex approach to jazz. The Norwegian Andersen is the equal of any contemporary bass master, although his cleanly articulated, slow, meaty, throbbing glissandos suggest closest affinity with Buster Williams. Juhani Aaltonen's rich, authoritative, iron-tough tenor has some of Gato Barbieri's snarl, but with the teeth-grinding intensity mercifully backed off. On flute, Aaltonen becomes more impressionistic, drawing on an impressive range of overblowing techniques. Like Andersen, pianist Lars Jansson and drummer Pål Thowsen are a match for any of their peers, certainly any of their mid-'70s ECM label mates. Despite all their firepower, Andersen and company have little or no interest in turning up the heat, opting, rather, for a series of highly personal exchanges among themselves. With close attention, though, Shimri's introspection and quiet reflection open up to the listener, the melodies, solos, pauses, runs, and modulations, both pretty and somber, stealthily insinuating themselves upon the ear. Ultimately, a full and final release arrives during the nearly 12-minute final track, "Dedication," one of four originals by Andersen. The track begins with Aaltonen's tenor, purposefully plaintive and insecure. The full quartet then move the music to more serene waters. Midway, Aaltonen emerges again, raising the heat with passionate, self-assured statements, before going unaccompanied on a lengthy, shrieking, meltdown of a cadenza that provides the album's unequivocal resolution. Worth waiting for? Oh yes, but not for the impatient.

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