“La notte” was commissioned by the Molde International Jazz Festival and recorded live at the Norwegian festival in 2010. It is a salute to Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni, whom Ketil Bjørnstad counts amongst his formative influences.
Ketil Bjørnstad: “At the same time that I discovered what jazz could be, after listening to Miles Davis’ In A Silent Way, I also saw the films by Godard, Bresson and Antonioni. It happened in that period of life when one is specially open-minded and curious about everything new. You could move into a dark cinema theatre in the early afternoon and watch the new and the old masters. Perhaps it was the slow, rhythmic authority in the films by Michelangelo Antonioni that made me think of music... As long as visual art creates music in our minds, and music creates pictures and visual expressions with the same intensity, the two are deeply and profoundly interdependent”. This album, then, can be considered “the soundtrack to an inner film”, in which Antonioni’s images and atmospheres are translated and transformed through personal moods and memories.
To perform his Antonioni-inspired compositions, Bjørnstad convened a Norwegian-Danish-British-German cast of players associated with ECM. All About Jazz editor John Kelman reviewed the live performance in Molde: “Bjørnstad is known for his compelling writing, the kind of music that's as much a spiritual journey as it is a sonic one. And being a published poet and writer of both fiction and non-fiction, it's no surprise that his music often possesses a strong narrative arc. Bjørnstad combined the familiar and the new: familiar, in the kinds of serpentine yet singable melodies he has always written; new, in the breadth of dynamic of a performance that ranged from near-silence to thunderous power and maelstrom-like turbulence... The pacing of the set couldn't have been better either, with each leap into exhilarating dramatism matched by subtler interludes ( ...) The show also demonstrated how well these musicians – from a broad range of personal stylistic endeavors – could come together to create music that was filled with grace, passion, beauty and power. Speaking with a single voice, and filtered through Bjørnstad’s musical prism, but never sounding like anyone other than themselves.”
The live recording was mixed by Manfred Eicher and Jan Erik Kongshaug at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in March 2012.
Guitarist Eivind Aarset recently issued “Dream Logic”, his first ECM disc as a leader. He has contributed to a number of influential recordings for the label including Nils Petter Molvær’s “Khmer” and “Solid Ether”, Arve Henriksen’s “Cartography”, Andy Sheppard’s “Movements In Colour”, Arild Andersen’s “Elektra”, Jon Hassell’s “Last Night The Moon Came...” and Marilyn Mazur’s “Small Labyrinths”. Aarset has previously collaborated with Ketil Bjørnstad on recordings for Emarcy/Universal including “The Nest”, “Grace” and “Seafarer’s Song”.
Bassist Arild Andersen has been part of ECM history from the beginning, starting with Jan Garbarek’s “Afric Pepperbird” in 1970. The first three albums under his own name were recently reissued as the box set “Green In Blue: The Early Quartets” in ECM’s Old & New Masters Edition. His current trio includes saxophonist Tommy Smith and drummer Paolo Vinaccia (new album in preparation) and he recently featured as principal soloist with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra on “Celebration”, playing music of Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbatrek, Chick Corea, Dave Holland and Trygve Seim, as well as his own “Indeterminacy”.
In 1973 he played on Ketil Bjørnstad’s very first album, “Åpning”, released by Phillips.
Ketil Bjørnstad, pianist, composer, improviser... and also novelist, poet and essayist, was described by The Guardian as “a cultural prodigy”. Prolific in his multi-discipline activities, he has released more than fifty albums and published forty books. Bjørnstad has been an ECM recording artist since 1993 when his “Water Stories” album was issued. Other ECM recordings include “The Sea”, “The River”, “The Sea II”, “Epigraphs”, “Life In Leipzig”, “The Light – Songs of Love and Fear”, “Remembrance”, “Night Song”, and “Vinding’s Music – Songs From The Alder Thicket”.
Cellist Anja Lechner moves easily between the worlds of classical music, contemporary composition and projects related to jazz and improvisation. She has a long-running collaboration with post-tango bandoneonist Dino Saluzzi most, recently documented on the DVD “El Encuentro” and the album “Navidad de los Andes”, and plays in the Tarkovsky Quartet of François Couturier. On the new music front, she has premiered compositions by Tigran Mansurian, Valentin Silvestrov and Annette Focks amongst others. For 18 years Lechner was the cellist of the Rosamunde Quartet, whose New Series albums embrace music from Haydn to Thomas Larcher. “La notte”, recorded at its first performance, represents Lechner’s sole collaboration with Ketil Bjørnstad to date.
Marilyn Mazur, Denmark’s “Queen of Percussion” came to international attention through her work with Miles Davis, Waynme Shorter and Gil Evans and through her 14 years on the road as a member of the Jan Garbarek Group. ECM albums under her own name include “Small Labyrinths”, “Elixir” and the recent “Celestial Circle”, with Josefin Cronholm, John Taylor and Anders Jormin. Mazur first worked with Ketil Bjørnstad on the 2004 recording “Floating” (Emarcy).
Saxophonist Andy Sheppard has also played with Bjørnstad in the past, notably on a Contemporary Music Network tour of Britain in 2006. Now also an ECM artist in his own right, Sheppard’s recordings for the label include “Movements In Colour” (which also featured Eivibd Aarset and Arild Andersen) and “Trio Libero”, named for his new band with Seb Rochford and Michel Benita. Sheppard has a long history also with Carla Bley – appearing on many of her WATT albums.