Cover Affirmation

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  • 1One (Affirmation Part I)04:29
  • 2Two (Affirmation Part I)06:13
  • 3Three (Affirmation Part I)04:40
  • 4Four (Affirmation Part I)08:22
  • 5Five (Affirmation Part II)07:09
  • 6Six (Affirmation Part II)01:38
  • 7Seven (Affirmation Part II)05:23
  • 8Short Story07:27
  • Total Runtime45:21

Info for Affirmation

In November 2021, bassist Arild Andersen brought his new quartet with saxophonist Marius Neset, pianist Helge Lien and drummer Håkon Mjåset Johansen to Oslo’s Rainbow Studio. Norway’s pandemic travel restrictions having ruled out the participation of Manfred Eicher on this occasion, the musicians were on their own, ostensibly to document some of Arild’s pieces. On the second day of recording, Andersen proposed some collective improvising: “With nothing planned, we recorded a first part of about 23 minutes, and a second part of about 14 minutes”. These extended arcs of music became the new focus of the album. “Affirmation Part I” and “Affirmation Part II” are presented, unedited, in their entirety. The album is completed by Andersen’s composition “Short Story”.

“Although the quartet had given quite a few concerts, and we’ve played together a lot, we’d never previously done a full set of just improvising. The idea of listening before you play is so present here, as is the way in which everybody comes up with ideas where interplay is the focus. I called the album Affirmation, where you have to trust yourself and trust the others just as much”

Freely improvised music, of course, has long been part of Andersen’s work method, all the way back to collaborations with Jan Garbarek and Edward Vesala in the Triptykon project, or the energetic interaction in Sam Rivers’s trio in the early 1970s. Now his new group also rises to the challenge in its own way, subtly finding and shaping forms in the moment. For the listener’s convenience, index points indicate where the music takes on a new direction. But the best way to hear Affirmation is to follow it from the outset.

Andersen’s bass sets ideas in motion from the first moment of “Affirmation Part I”, ideas soon embellished by Lien’s rippling piano and Mjåset Johansen’s gentle splashes of cymbal colour. When Marius Neset enters, initially to meditate on an iterative motif, Arild envelops it in an almost orchestral embrace, first with bowed bass then briefly with his pedal-generated sounds, blending acoustic and electronic timbres. The music keeps unfolding.

The quartet has a lot of options at its disposal. The musicians know how to use space, how to hold back and maintain tension, but each of them also has a strong rhythmic sensibility. All four of them are driving the ensemble, in fact, and equally all four are soloists; together, they reach some powerful peaks. “Affirmation Part II” takes off from Mjåset Johansen’s drumming, soon developing into a lively three way conversation with Andersen and Lien before Neset’s entrance, intensifying the energetic feel – maintained until the final section of the improvised music which unwinds in an elegiac atmosphere. Andersen’s “Short Story”, a strongly melodic piece, concludes the album.

Arild Andersen has been an ECM recording artist since 1970, making his debut with the Jan Garbarek Quartet on Afric Pepperbird, long regarded as a classic of the new jazz. Acknowledged as one of the great jazz bassists – “my goal has always been to make the double bass sing” – he’s also an insightful bandleader whose ensembles over the decades have brought many significant improvisers to a wider public. In the present Andersen Group, Arild (born 1945) is joined by Norwegian players of the next two generations – Helge Lien and Håkon Mjåset Johansen (both born in 1975) and Marius Neset (born 1985). Neset and Lien are also bandleaders in their own right, and Mjåset Johansen is one of the most in-demand drummers on the scene, working across a wide range of contexts in groups large and small.

Marius Neset has been hailed as a major instrumental voice, with The Guardian comparing the power of his sound with Michael Brecker’s. A dynamic player, Neset learned drums before taking up the saxophone and a strong rhythmic feeling is at the core of much of his work. He has recorded for labels including Edition, ACT and Chandos. Latterly he has also drawn praise for his compositions, recorded with, among others, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Sinfonietta.

Helge Lien grew up influenced by both jazz and Scandinavian folk music, synthesizing these elements in his popular trio, described by Dagbladet as “the best Norwegian piano trio in a long time.” His many credits include work with Tri O’Trang, Silje Nergaard, and Arild Andersen’s trio, as well as a duo project with dobro player Knut Hem. In addition to musical activities, Lien is a passionate photographer, and the liner photos in the Affirmation booklet are his.

Håkon Mjåset Johansen, from Trondheim, came to the attention of the jazz public with the band Motif whose line-up included Mathias Eick and Ole Morten Vågan. He has had a long association with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, and worked with its guest soloists including Chick Corea and Seamus Blake.

Affirmation is released as the Arild Andersen Group takes to the road for a new round of concerts.

Arild Andersen, double bass
Marius Neset, tenor saxophone
Helge Lien, piano
Hakon Mjaset Johansen, drums

Arild Andersen
Born in Norway October 27-1945. He has been one of Europe’s leading bass player for more than 30 years. Andersen started out as a member of Jan Garbarek Quartet(67-73). The group also included Terje Rypdal and Jon Christensen.In the same period he also worked with Norwegian singer Karin Krog and played in the rhythm section for visiting American musicians such as; Phil Woods, Dexter Gordon, Hampton Hawes, Johnny Griffin, Sonny Rollins, and Chick Corea. He also worked with Don Cherry and George Russell in this years.

In 1972-74 he visited New York several times and worked with Stan Getz Quartet, Sam Rivers trio, Sheila Jordan, Steve Kuhn and Paul Bley. In 1974 Arild Andersen formed his own quartet. The band toured Scandinavia and Europe and recorded 3 albums for ECM with this band. He also had a band together with singer Radka Toneff in the late 70-ties and early 80-ties.

In 1980 Arild Andersen put together a band that included Kenny Wheeler,Paul Motian,and Steve Dobrogosz(Lifelines-ECM). In -81 he had a band with Alphonse Mouzon, Bill Frisell and John Taylor (A Molde Concert ,ECM). This band also toured Europe in -83, this time with John Abercrombie on guitar.

1982 he formed «The Arild Andersen Quintet» with Jon Christensen dr. Jon Balke p, Tore Brunborg sax, Nils Petter Molvær tp. The band changed name later to «Masqualero». This band was in the forefront of European jazz for 10 years ,the last years as quartet without piano. Masqualero toured USA, Canada, East and West Europe and made four albums ,one for the Norwegian label «Odin » and three for ECM. Three of the albums won the Norwegian «Grammy»award. Arild Andersen released in 1993 a trio recording with Ralph Towner and Nana Vasconcelos, "If You Look Far Enough" on ECM.

Over the last years Arild Andersen has also spent time investing the possibility of combining traditional Norwegian folk music with improvised music. He started in 1988 a collaboration with singer Kirsten Braaten Berg, one of the leading artists in Norwegian folk music. This lead to the successful work «Sagn» premiered in -90 and performed more than 40 times including Town Hall, New York, Germany and Scandinavia. «Sagn» was recorded -91 on The Norwegian label «Kirkelig Kulturverksted» and later released on ECM. In 93 he premiered a new work called «Arv», also recorded on Kirkelig Kulturverksted.

In 1994 he wrote music for a theatre version on the Nobel prized trilogy «Kristin Lavransdatter» by Sigrid Undset. This also lead to several performances of the concert version of the music and a recording for Kirkelig Kulturverksted. Arild Andersens work » Hyperborean» , commissioned by » The Molde International Jazz festival» premiered in 95 .This was a 9-piece band including the Norwegian string quartet Cikada. The music was recorded in October-96 and was released in September 1997 by ECM.

1998 he formed a trio together with German trumpeter Markus Stockhausen and French percussion-player Patrice Heral. This trio+ Terje Rypdal as a guest, made a CD called ”Karta”, released sept 2000 by ECM.

1999 Andersen started a trio with English drummer John Marshall and the Greek piano player Vassilis Tsabroupolos. They released two cd’s on ECM, Achirana 2000 and The Triangle 2004.

In 2001 he played concerts at The Molde International Jazz Festival with Pat Metheney who was ”Artist in Recidence” and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilsen-Love. June 2002 he premiered the music to Sophocles Greek Drama ” Electra ” at the Herodes Theater in Athens. This performance was a part of the Athens Olympic Games cultural issue. The cd of the music was released as ”Electra” by ECM 2005.

In 2004 he started a colaboration with Hungarian Gutarist Ference Snetberger which led to a Quartet recording ”Joyosa” 2004 and a Trio Recording ”Nomad” 2005. In 2002 he became a member of the Dahl/Andersen/Heral trio which recorde two cd’s for Stunt records in Denmark . ”The Sign” and ”Moonwater”.

In 2005 Arild Andersen was ”Artist in Residence” at The Molde Jazz festical with 5 concerts during the week including one Soloconcert, Electra, Snetberger trio and a special project with Kudsi Ergunner and Nana Vasconcelos.

In 2005 he also wrote a commission work for a duo with Saxophonist Tommy Smith. This was called ”Independency” and led to the formation of his new trio with Paolo Vinaccia on drums and Tommy Smith on saxophone. This trio made a live recording at the club Belleville in Oslo autumn 2007. It was released 2008 on ECM ”Live at Belleville”. It got raving reviews around the world and this trio is Arild Andersens main project these days with concerts around the world. Arild Andersen received "Prix du Musicien Européen” 2008 from the ”Academie du Jazz ” in France.

In 2010 he visited Japan for the first time and his trio was claimed by the Japan press to be the highlight of the ”Tokyo International Jazzfestival 2010”. In october 2010 he did four concerts with Scottish National Jazz Orchestra under direction of Tommy Smith. The music was a celebration of ECM with songs recorded on the lable over the years like Keith Jarrett´s My Song, Chick Corea´s Crystal Silence, Dave Holland´s May Dance and more. The Glasgow concert was released on ECM spring 2012 called » Celebration».

January 2014 he released «MIRA» on ECM a new cd with his trio with Paolo Vinaccia and Tommy Smith.

March 2018 he released a Live trio recording in Austria » In House Science» on ECM.

Booklet for Affirmation

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