Vagabonde Blu is accordionist Frode Haltli's fourth recording under his own name, but his first true solo album: He is the only performer listed on the credits. Recorded live in 2009 during a concert at Oslo's Tomba Emmanuelle, it features three lengthy pieces by contemporary composers. The title track was authored by Salvatore Sciarrino, "Flashing" is by Arne Nordheim, and "Ein Kleines…" by Aldo Clementi. This date marks the first time Haltli has recorded Nordheim's piece; he reprised it with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra under the direction of Christian Eggen in 2012 on Arne Nordheim: Complete Accordion Works. This version, while much lower in fidelity, is actually preferable because it is longer by nearly half, and one can hear Haltli discovering its possibilities as he performs it without a net. That said, one has to wonder if the venue here should be credited as a collaborator. It was built in 1926 by artist Emanuel Vigeland as a place to showcase his paintings. He later bricked up its many windows and it became his mausoleum -- an urn containing his ashes sits above the entrance. Given its hard surfaces, an insistent yet natural reverb becomes another sonic element in Haltli's interpretations: he plays, listens back, and reacts. (That all three works allow for real improvisational liberties is a boon.) The title piece here is most indicative of this, its spaciousness and economic phraseology layer rather than stack cadences and what amounts to a kind of dialogic call and response between Haltli and Tomba Emmanuelle occurs. Over 42 minutes, the accordionist not only displays inspired, disciplined, and expert musicianship, but also a sense of awe as a listener who co-creates with the room's own "voices" in realizing these performances.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek