Jazzwise – June 2012


ECM 279 0947 | ****

Arild Andersen/the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra/Tommy Smith


Bassist Arild Andersen’s critically acclaimed trio with Tommy Smith on saxophone has toured extensively and recorded for ECM – Live at Belleville – and has inevitably led to Andersen’s collaboration with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, created by Smith in 1995.

Celebration is a celebration of ECM, and Andersen just happens to be one of its original stars, first appearing in 1970 on the label’s

seventh LP, Afric Pepperbird. The album comprises six pieces selected from the label’s recorded corpus, arranged by Geoffrey Keezer, Makoto Ozone, Mike Gibbs and Tommy Smith who comprise part of a panel of arrangers Smith has turned to in the past to realise the remarkable

range of projects he devises for the orchestra. There are also some

new arrangers in Christian Jacob and Trygve Seim and Øyvind Braekke (the later the director of the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra), Jacob producing the arrangement of Dave Holland’s ‘May Dance’ and Seim and Braeke combing on an arrangement of Seim’s own ‘Ulrikas Dance’.

The fulcrum of this celebration is Arild Andersen, one of the truly great bass players in European jazz, whose wonderful, full tone is one of the joys of this album. Smith, whose playing betrays Jan Garbarek’s influence both in his respect for tone and well crafted melody, arranged ‘Molde Canticle Part 1’ and has throughout the album, together with Andersen, somehow captured the spirit of what ECM has come to represent in contemporary jazz today. But the star of the show is really the orchestra, whose intonation, articulation and respect for dynamics bring vivid life to pieces such as ‘My Song’, ‘Crystal Silence’ and ‘Independency Part 4.’


Stuart Nicholson


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