"This music was originally composed for the performance 'Electra' by the 'Spring Theatre', Athens. Directed by Yannis Margaritis. A production of 'Cultural Olympiad 2001-2004'".
Recorded 2002/3 at home, 7.Etage in Oslo, Kaev Studio in Copenhagen, Les productions de l'erable in Montpellier and Spectrum Studio in Athens.
Arild Andersen's Electra was composed for the Spring Theater in Athens for their production. These "18 Scenes," as they are subtitled, represent various cues and serial music for the production of Sophocles' deeply moving classic. Andersen collaborates with both European and Greek musicians here, among them the great vocalist Savina Yannatou, guitarist Eivind Aarset, drummer Patrice Heral, and trumpeter Arve Henriksen. The music is heavily arranged, taut, and spacious. Everything is understated yet utterly dramatic. Voices, drum programs - courtesy of Andersen and Nils Petter Molvaer - brass, electric guitars, chorus, and solo voices are given direction by Andersen's bass and conducting, allowing a sort of musical story to emerge that not only informs but works independently of the dramatic work they accompany. This is spirit music. Its goes under the radar and slowly, purposefully enters the listener's unconscious and body, creating a space for impressions created by the emotions and unconscious. Like Peter Gabriel's score for The Last Temptation of Christ, the music here suggests more than it demands. It points ambiguously inward and is seductive by its subtlety. It's not "jazz," but then, it isn't anything else either, because it holds so much more inside than mere classification. This is simply a wondrous piece, darkly haunting, yet utterly beautiful for what it leaves out as much what is here. Given what Andersen has created here, the stage production was blessed.
All Music Guide
"Thine is a fatal course of grief, passing ever from due bounds into a cureless sorrow; wherein there is no deliverance from evils. Say, wherefore art thou enamoured of misery?"
Like so many of the Greek tragedies, Sophocles' "Electra", with its themes of endurance of suffering and chains of bloody retribution, remains as pertinent in the 21st century as it was when it was first staged, around 420 B.C. It was with this in mind that Greek theatre director Yannis Margaritis, who counts filmmakers Angelopoulos and Tarkovsky among his major influences, asked Norwegian bassist Arild Andersen for a "very modern" score for his new presentation of the tale of the young woman "whose life is a torrent of woes dread and dark, a torrent that surges through all the months."
For this work with the Spring Theatre group, presented under the auspices of the Cultural Olympiad 2001-2004, Arild Andersen rounded up Norwegian and Greek associates old and new, guiding them through a spacious soundscape, conceived and produced by the bassist at a variety of locations. Andersen, 60 this year, regards "Electra" as a summing up of the directions he has taken in recent years, with an emphasis on structure and arrangement.
Greece has been increasingly important in Arild Andersen's itinerary over the last decade. A sequence of tours from the late 1990s onwards (initially alongside Markus Stockhausen) brought him into contact with a wide range of musicians. Vassilis Tsabropoulos, subsequently pianist with the Andersen Trio on the albums "Achirana" and "The Triangle" was one. Singer Savina Yannatou, who had just begun her association with ECM (refer to "Terra Nostra" and "Sumiglia") was another. Yannatou agreed to sing Sophocles' 'lyrics', supported by the Greek chorus of Elly Casdas, Chrysanthi Douzi and Fontini Grammenou.
In a sense, however, the principal singer on the disc is Arve Henriksen, the Norwegian trumpeter whose liquid "vocal" tone, now influenced as much by shakuhachi and duduk players as by the trumpet tradition, is in the foreground of almost every track. Henriksen is a member of the groups of Trygve Seim and Christian Wallumrod (whose new album "A Year From Easter" is released concurrently with "Electra"), and previously appeared also with Jon Balke's groups on ECM.
Another trumpeter appears in a less familiar role. Nils Petter Molvaer was introduced to the world via Andersen's Masqualero band when he was barely in his twenties. Now Molvaer returns to the Andersen circle to programme the heavy drumbeats of "7th Background", a piece somewhat in the spirit of Molvaer's "Khmer" and "Solid Ether" discs. If Molvaer seems a reference elsewhere, attribute it to the presence of Eivind Aarset, Molvaer's lead guitarist for most of the last decade, before concentrating on his own Electronique Noir group. Aarset has also recorded for ECM alongside Molvaer in Marilyn Mazur's band. Andersen's Electra compositions sometimes encourage him to play in the spirit of one of his earliest influences, Terje Rypdal.
Italian born drummer Paolo Vinaccia has been an active participant on the Norwegian scene for a quarter century, previously recording with Andersen and Rypdal for ECM (on, respectively, "Hyperborean" and "Skywards"). For the first time on disc he is partnered here with fellow Andersen associate Patrice Heral, the French drummer who has worked with Arild in the KARTA band (with Rypdal and Markus Stockhausen).
And, of course, there is plenty of Andersen's powerful, imaginative bass playing. One of the so-called "Big Four" of Norwegian jazz, and an ECM recording artist since 1970, he has influenced successive generations of players. Andersen has been highly valued by international jazz musicians, too, working with everyone from Sam Rivers to Sheila Jordan, Roswell Rudd, Don Cherry, George Russell and many others. "Electra" is his 16th ECM album as a leader. He has also appeared on ECM discs with Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal, Bill Frisell, David Darling, and Robin Kenyatta.
"Electra", the album, is to be launched with a special release concert at Cosmopolite, Oslo on April 13th. On July 18th the Arild Andersen Group plays the "Electra" music to launch this year's Molde Jazz Festival. Further dates are in preparation.
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