Live At Belleville

Arild Andersen, Paolo Vinaccia, Tommy Smith

Live recording of Arild Andersen’s exciting new trio, playing in Oslo’s Belleville club and at the Drammen Theatre, spurred on by an enthusiastic crowd. Apart from Duke Ellington’s “Prelude To A Kiss”, played with much feeling by Tommy Smith, the music is all written by Andersen, and it burns. “Live At Belleville” may be Arild’s most powerful trio recording since “Triptykon” with Garbarek and Vesala, back in 1972.

Featured Artists Recorded

September 2007

Original Release Date


  • 1Independency Part 1
    (Arild Andersen)
  • 2Independency Part 2
    (Arild Andersen)
  • 3Independency Part 3
    (Arild Andersen)
  • 4Independency Part 4
    (Arild Andersen)
  • 5Prelude To A Kiss
    (Duke Ellington, Irving Gordon, Irving Mills)
  • 6Outhouse
    (Arild Andersen)
  • 7Dreamhorse
    (Arild Andersen)
BBC Music Choice
Jazzreview, Pick of CDs
Jazzman, Choc of the year
Jazz Magazine, Disque d'émoi of the year
Jazzman, Choc du mois
Jazzmagazine, Disque d’émoi
This is a disc to clear the decks, your mind and your preconceptions for. Andersen is an ECM artist of nearly 40 years standing, yet his ideas sound as freshly minted as ever. Central to this recording is a multi-section suite celebrating the centenary of Norway’s independence from Sweden, but don’t expect simplistic folksiness; instead, what we have is a glorious kaleidoscope of modern jazz composition, ranging from atmospheric introspection to gorgeously skewed melodic and textural workouts to which all three musicians make imaginative contribution. … Absolutely and unreservedly marvellous, and sonically impeccable, too.
Roger Thomas, BBC Music Magazine
How often do just three musicians produce music as vast and panoramic in its scale and vision? The answer, in case you’re wondering, is rarely. Seven tracks … define the art of the trio on this disc. Not leader and led but an ensemble of all the talents, this record takes you across myriad landscapes and through countless adventures. Music this evocative doesn’t need images to provoke thoughts and feelings. Listening to it is already like watching a film.
Duncan Heining, Jazzwise
My Jazz album of the year. Norwegian bass maestro teams up with saxophonist Tommy Smith and Italian drummer Paolo Vinaccia in a trio that is brimming over with compelling ideas and creative invention. … Andersen’s extended playing technique and use of electronics places his approach to the double bass on a different level to most other players, while Smith’s keening saxophone work and Vinaccia’s supple, responsive drumming make their own essential impact.
Kenny Mathieson, The Scotsman
All the tunes on this set are by bass virtuoso Arild Andersen, except for the Duke Ellington standard Prelude to a Kiss. Something of the purple-toned but shyly jubilant melodic style of Jan Garbarek’s music colours the session – partly because of Andersen’s lyrical writing in parts of the Independency suite, and partly because of the delicate tone control of the fastidious Smith, who plays tenor sax throughout.
John Fordham, The Guardian
Weiträumig spannt die Musik ihre Bogen, Andersens mächtig pulsierender Bass wird umspielt von Vinaccias Polyrhythmik, und Tommy Smith zeigt die ganze Palette seines Könnens. Auskomponierte Passagen, bald lyrisch, bald hymnisch, stehen neben energetischen Improvisationen, die doch nie den thematischen Fokus verlieren. Dezent eingesetzte Live-Elektronik erweitert die klanglichen Möglichkeiten des akustischen Basses. Und einmal mehr ist hier zu erleben, dass für die Kunst des Trios das Vernetzen von Ideen, die subtile Interaktion noch wichtiger ist als die individuelle Prachtentfaltung.
Manfred Papst, Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag
Ein überragendes Klein-Ensemble mit dem schottischen Tenorsaxophonisten Tommy Smith … und dem italienischen Schlagzeuger Paolo Vinaccia gibt dem breit angelegten Epos einen zeitgemäßen Rahmen. Jazz und Rock stehen hier versöhnlich nebeneinander, Funk-Schnipsel und moderne Überblastechniken tun dem nordischen Szenario keinerlei Gewalt an. … Ein Konzert, das sich durch ein Höchstmaß an Konzentration auszeichnet. Dass dabei das musikalisch Visionäre nie aus dem Blickfeld gelangt, sondern vielmehr aus kleinen Motiven formvollendete Stücke in freier Improvisation entstehen, macht diesen Auftritt zu einem Ereignis.
Tom Fuchs, Fono Forum
The first release from Arild Andersen’s new trio, featuring saxophonist Tommy Smith and drummer Paolo Vinaccia in a performance recorded live at Oslo’s Belleville Club and the Drammen Theatre. One of the most comprehensive and exciting recordings of Andersen’s long creative career, it allies compositional intelligence to top flight improvising with powerful results.

The major work on the disc is Andersen’s “Independency”, a piece written in 2005 to mark the centenary of Norway’s liberation from the union with Sweden, presented as an epic voyage of continually changing musical emphasis, from guided free playing to post-bop group interaction, beautiful balladry and evocative sound-painting.

The stripped-down sax/bass/drums format will make long-time Andersen listeners recall his historic collaborations with Jan Garbarek/Edward Vesala (“Triptykon”) or Sam Rivers/Barry Altschul (“Hues”, on Impulse); “Live At Belleville” is also in this tradition. Scottish tenorist Smith makes a magisterial showing. Reviewing a live performance of “Independency” in the Birmingham Post, Peter Bacon wrote. “As a demonstration of what the saxophone is capable of, this was something of a master-class. Smith’s mastery of whole areas above the instrument’s normal range - and then to draw such sweet notes from that stratosphere - simply takes the breath away.” Smith’s versatility is emphasized also in a yearning and freely expressive version of Duke Ellington’s “Prelude To A Kiss”. Throughout, the interaction between the trio is exemplary. Apart from driving the trio forward with his muscular basslines and locking in with Paolo Vinaccia’s detailed drums, Andersen also expands the band’s sonic palette with discreet electronics, building layers of strings with digital loops, and creating arrangements in the moment.