BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Bassist Arild Andersen has been a mainstay of the Scandinavian jazz scene since making his mark with Jan Garbarek on the latter’s 1970 release Afric Pepperbird. He’s made twenty albums as a leader since, as well as lending his woody tone and lyrical playing to artists all over the world. In-House Science, recorded live at the PKS Villa Rothstein in Austria, presents Andersen with his longtime sidemen Tommy Smith (saxophone) and Paolo Vinaccia (drums) and a program of recent and new compositions.
Working without a chordal instrument in a trio format gives the musicians an enormous amount of freedom, limiting no one to traditional lead/rhythm roles. On “Venice,” Andersen steps out front for some rubbery licks and solos, with Smith adding squealing bursts and Vinaccia churning his kit into a boil, before the saxist dives back in to trade swirling lines with the leader. For the lovely “Mira,” Smith digs deep into soulful balladry, pushed by Andersen and Vinaccia’s busy rhythms into far more than mere coffee shop crooning. “Blussy” lets Andersen groove in an easygoing, almost funky style, alternating the spotlight with Smith for a series of tasty licks.
“North of the Northwind” floats into a dream state, as Smith solos with abandon over atmospheric backing provided in part by Andersen’s sampler. “Science” and “In-House” share more than the album’s title, as both cuts loosen any shackles on the musicians, romping giddily into free jazz territory. Vinaccia in particular seems to delight in stepping out front on “In-House,” bringing the record home.
As leader, Andersen keeps the performances both grounded and energized, his fingerings on point or free-floating as needed. Smith and Vinaccia bounce off their manager’s lines perfectly, whether complementing his bits or using them to take off into the wild. A live album with an excellent combo of pristine sound and concert energy, In-House Science is a masterclass in group interplay.
DOWNLOAD: “Venice,” “Mira,” “In-House”