Arild Andersen, Tommy Smith, Paolo Vinaccia – Mira (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 1:02:54 minutes | 1,3 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: AcousticSounds | Artwork: Digital booklet | © ECM
Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen, Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith and Italian expat drummer Paolo Vinaccia made waves around the world with their award-winning debut recording, the much lauded concert album Live at Belleville. Mira, the trio’s studio follow-up, is a programme of soulful ballads and midtempo free-floating sound explorations, pairing Anderson’s muscular bass with Smith’s vaulting tenor in an exceptionally compelling blend. Most of the tunes on Mira are Andersen originals, though his bandmates also contribute material and there is an unexpected interpretation of Burt Bacharach’s Alfie, beautifully played by Smith here.
The trio of bassist Arild Andersen, drummer Paolo Vinaccia, and saxophonist Tommy Smith released Live at Belleville back in 2008. That recording was a startling workout that balanced fiery improvisation (uncharacteristic for the bassist since he engaged in it in a trio setting on 1972’s Triptykon with Edward Vesala and Jan Garbarek), Norwegian folk themes, and lyric invention. For all of its kinetic energy, it nonetheless managed to communicate an intimacy and equanimity that few trios could generate with such an enthusiastic audience. Mira showcases a different side of this group nearly six years on. The program is made up of nine Andersen tunes, while his bandmates contribute a pair too. Most of this offering is made up of midtempo and slower-tempo works, though all are warm, exploratory, and full of welcome surprises and a subtle but ever-present energy. Opener “Bygone” is a ballad initially with a melodic statement from Smith, but by the time of Andersen’s solo, it has dissembled into a more spacious – yet no less physical – work that moves through adventurous ideas that are only implied by the lyric. “Rossetti” commences at midtempo, but offers emotionally searing playing by Smith, moving about through Andersen’s earthy, substantive playing (as if the bass were actually part of his torso) to find the edges of the free zone, as Vinaccia dances around them both. The title cut begins as an exercise in improvisation, but becomes a lyrical and investigative ballad with gorgeous playing by Smith. “Blussy” commences with a Vinaccia solo that creates a fluid and avant funky groove for his partners to play off. The lone cover on the set is an inspired reading of “Alfie,” with Andersen and Smith engaging in committed, emotionally complementary interplay. The scalar and rhythmic exchanges on “Eight and More” are Andersen at his compositional best; they allow the trio to stretch a restrained harmonic line to the breaking point. Vinaccia’s abstract yet inherently focused and intuitive drumming doesn’t respond so much as anticipate the dialogue between the composer and saxophonist. On Mira, this trio’s musical language has evolved to express a different dialect, one full of inquiry, intelligence, and soul.
01 – Bygone
02 – Blussy
03 – Alfie
04 – Rossetti
05 – Reparate
06 – Raijin
07 – Le Saleya
08 – Kangiten
09 – Mira
10 – Eight And More
11 – Stevtone
Produced by Manfred Eicher. Engineered by Jan Erik Kongshaug.
Recorded in December 2012 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo, Norway.
Tommy Smith – tenor saxophone, shakuhachi
Arild Andersen – double bass, electronics
Paolo Vinaccia – drums