The Triangle

Arild Andersen, Vassilis Tsabropoulos, John Marshall

CD from the "Touchstones" Series.
 
Arild Andersen’s trio emphasises the writing and playing of Greek pianist Vassilis Tsabropoulos, whose melodic improvising and sense of form are influenced by his background as a classical musician. Tsabropoulos’s tunes, and his arrangement of Ravel here, cast the jazz ‘piano trio’ genre in another light – as do his contributions to Andersen’s pieces and the collective improvisation “European Triangle". Arild Andersen’s driving bass and John Marshall’s inventive drums give the music its sense of propulsion.
Featured Artists Recorded

January 2003, Rainbow Studio, Oslo

Original Release Date

16.02.2004

  • 1Straight
    (Vassilis Tsabropoulos)
    05:36
  • 2Pavane
    (Maurice Ravel)
    07:14
  • 3Saturday
    (Arild Andersen)
    05:25
  • 4Choral
    (Vassilis Tsabropoulos)
    06:28
  • 5Simple Thoughts
    (Vassilis Tsabropoulos)
    06:29
  • 6Prism
    (Arild Andersen)
    06:42
  • 7Lines
    (Arild Andersen)
    02:59
  • 8European Triangle
    (Arild Andersen, John Marshall, Vassilis Tsabropoulos)
    05:26
  • 9Cinderella Song
    (Vassilis Tsabropoulos)
    06:33
 
 
Stereoplay, Klangtipp
 
Andersen plays superb bass, soloing with thoughtfully developed lines and a catchy, joyful spirit. The Triangle is a delightful album, featuring Andersen in the company of musicians who complement his mood well, and who are obviously inspired by his compositions. In an ideal world, it should see Andersen’s profile rise to a more decent and proper level of appreciation for his output. Vassilis Tsabropoulos is a consistently inventive and surprisingly versatile soloist, and John Marshall is his usual master of opaque percussive colourings and subtle time shadings … an immensely enjoyable album.
Philip Clark, Jazzreview
 
This trio put out an equally strong CD on ECM a few years back called Achirana, while Tsabropoulos’ ECM solo CD, Akroasis, was a fine set of interpretations of Eastern Orthodox hymns. It doesn’t surprise that this new record is the equal of its predecessors. … Opening with Tsabropoulos’ lovely, stately “Straight”, you’re immediately struck by the level of fluidity and empathy the group achieves and Ravel’s “Pavanne”, which follows, takes this to an even higher level.
Duncan Heining, Jazzwise
 
Das hier titelgebende Dreieck bilden neben Andersen der griechische Pianist Vassilis Tsabropoulos, der in der Klassik verwurzelt ist und erst später zum Jazz fand, und der Schlagzeuger John Marshall, der auf die Zusammenarbeit mit Alexis Korners Blues Incorporated und Soft Machine, aber auch mit John Surman und Ben Webster zurückblicken kann. Ebenso abwechslungsreich wie die Geschichte der Beteiligten gerieten auch die neun Songs der CD: Da steht eine Ravel-Bearbeitung ganz selbstverständlich neben Kompositionen Andersens und Tsabropoulos’ oder einer eingängigen Kollektivimprovisation. Für mich schon jetzt die (Wieder-)Entdeckung des Jahres!
Dirk Sommer, Image Hifi
 
Elegant tupft der klassisch geschulte Pianist Vassilis Tsabropoulos mit der Rechten seine Kommentare in Arild Andersens tieftönende Wohlklänge – und zirkelt gleichzeitig mit der Linken unabhängige Linien. In die so offenen wie swingenden Strukturen zeichnet John Marshall mit Sticks und Besen feine Figuren. Das Trio, bewährt von Achirana, findet eine Balance zwischen Emotion und Intellekt, die The Triangle zum kostbaren Geschenk macht.
Sven Thielmann, Stereoplay
 
Das Dreieck im CD-Titel ist ein Hinweis auf die Gleichberechtigung der Musiker bei dieser Aufnahme: Bassist Arild Andersen führt sie zwar an, der griechische Pianist Vassilis Tsabropoulos und der britische Schlagzeuger John Marshall spielen aber gleichermaßen tragende Rollen. Es sind weitgehend „Simple Thoughts“ – so ein Songtitel -, die die drei hier vertonen, aber formuliert sind sie voll Hingabe und Konzentration. Die einmalige Fähigkeit Marshalls, mit seiner stolpernden Snare das Tempo zu verschleppen und aufzurauen, wird von Andersen und Tsabropoulos zu schönen Ausflügen abseits der vorgegebenen Wege genutzt. ... Nicht nur bei den acht Originalkompositionen, vorwiegend aus der Feder von Andersen und Tsabropoulos, sondern auch bei einem Arrangement von Maurice Ravels „Pavane“ gelingt das ganz vorzüglich.
Rolf Thomas, Jazzthing
 
Aus drei unterschiedlichen Sphären kommt das derzeitige Trio des norwegischen Kontrabassisten Arild Andersen zusammen. Auf seiner zweiten CD mit dem griechischen Pianisten Vassilis Tsabropoulos und dem Briten John Marshall am Schlagzeug stehen die Eckpfeiler dieses Dreiecks jedoch nicht getrennt voneinander, sondern sind zu einer Einheit von fragiler Schönheit verwoben. ... Mit einfachsten Mitteln starten die drei in die neun Stücke, seien dies lang gezogene Motivbögen, ein gleichmäßiger und doch unvorhersehbarer Grundbeat oder stoische und unaufdringliche Ostinatofiguren. Doch einfache Gedanken führen oft zu umso vielschichtigeren Strukturen ... Das zarte Pflänzchen, welches Andersen vor vier Jahren mit Achirana in die europäische Jazzlandschaft gepflanzt hat, kommt immer mehr zur Blüte. hoffentlich noch oft, und hoffentlich auch live in Deutschland.
Thorsten Meyer, Jazzpodium
“The Triangle” referred to by Arild Andersen in the title of his 15th album as a leader for ECM is one that could be formed by drawing lines on the map to connect Oslo, Athens and London - home bases for the three principals here, musicians who between them pool a great deal of information and channel it into a “European” jazz of their own making.

Much has been written in recent seasons about the relative merits of improvising on either side of the Atlantic, and much that Norwegian bassist Andersen would not subscribe to. Although often credited as one of the originators of a ‘Nordic’ jazz sensibility, Andersen’s own bands have been international for decades, and – way back in the early 70s - his muscular playing was toughened by working with American jazz giants from Johnny Griffin to Sam Rivers. Similarly, British drummer John Marshall acquired early recognition propelling prototypes of European jazz/rock including Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, Nucleus and the Soft Machine, yet the fundamental rhythmic impetus behind his work was inevitably ‘American’, and Marshall was proud to have studied with Philly Joe Jones.

In Andersen’s current trio, however, geographical influences at play are subtly different. A central role is played by Vassilis Tsabropoulos, a Greek classical pianist who came late to jazz, and who began to improvise only while a student at the Juilliard school. His phrasing and touch are untypical for a jazz player.

Jazz improvisers of course have long looked to ‘classical’ composition to expand their timbral and harmonic palettes, but when a classical pianist writes an arrangement of Ravel for jazz group – as happens on “Pavane” here - we are entering uncharted idiomatic territory. Tsabropoulos is composer of five of the nine pieces on “The Triangle”, all of which seem to cast the ‘piano trio’ genre in another light. As do his contributions to Andersen’s three pieces and the collective improvisation “European Triangle”.

Andersen met Tsabropoulos in Athens in 1996 when both were playing in Greece in diverse combinations with Markus Stockhausen. “What struck me straight away was the fact that his exceptional classical technique never gets in the way of his jazz playing. And I also liked the fact that his improvising is generally not chordally-based. He’s more often playing independent lines in the left hand.”

The trio made its debut four years ago with “Achirana” (ECM 1728), and both the disc itself (Tsabropoulos’s very first jazz recording) and the touring around its release drew much press attention. “Tsabropoulos has very little jazz timing in his phrasing, “Alyn Shipton noted in a concert review for The Times, “but his delicate lines, built of four or five note motifs take all their jazz feeling from the setting, with Andersen’s huge, warm bass tone and Marshall’s go-for-broke drumming adding the right ambience.”

“Achirana”, wrote Ian Carr in the BBC Music Magazine, “contains one element completely new to my experience. Tsabropoulos, a protégé of Vladimir Ashkenazy, is the first classical pianist I've ever heard who can play jazz with real understanding and great imagination… This trio of virtuosi never over-plays, and the album is beautifully recorded. It's an object lesson in artistry.”