Norway's internationally best known jazz bassist began his musical career as a guitar player in the Riverside Jazz Band in his home town Strømmen (1962-1963), took up the bass in 1964 and would soon join bands in Oslo. Andersen was a member of the Roy Hellvin Trio 1964-1968, played backing at Kongsberg 1967 and 1968, won the Jazznytt best bassist poll in 1967 and from the same year started playing regularly with Jan Garbarek. Member of Garbarek Trio, Quartet and Quintet 1967-1973 and recorded with these in 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1972, also with Jan Erik Vold (1969, 1970 and 1973), besides many festival jobs at home and abroad.
After completing his technical education in 1968 he became a professional musician and performed with many of the best known musicians of the time besides Garbarek, such as Karin Krog (recording 1968), George Russell, Don Cherry (Berlin 1968), was a member of Arild Boman's experimental groups 1968-1969 and backed up at jams in Molde 1969 (recording "Break of Day in Molde"), and received the Buddy award the same year.
The first half of the Seventies was an extremely active period for Arild Andersen, he played with among others Stan Getz 1970, George Russell, Don Cherry, Sonny Rollins, Karin Krog and Heikki Sarmanto 1971, Paul Bley 1972-1973, Sam Rivers, Magni Wentzel and Jon Eberson 1973, recorded with Robert Kenyatta (1970), George Russell (1979 and 1973), Bobo Stenson (1971), Terje Rypdal (1971), Karin Krog (1972 and 1973), Ketil Bjørnstad (1973), before completing an eventful visit to the US during winter 1973-1974.
From 1974 onwards he has fronted his own groups, first a quartet 1974-1979, most of the time with Juhani Aaltonen, Lars Jansson and Pål Thowsen, festival debut in Warszawa 1974, the LPs "Clouds in my Head" 1975, "Shimm" 1976 and "Green Shading into Blue" 1978, was "composer group" at Norjazz 1977, he was voted Bassist of the Year by the European Jazz Federation 1975, was a member of the Radka Toneff Quintet 1975-1981 (recording 1977 and 1979, radio recording 1981 published on CD 1992), in addition to participating on recordings by among others Karin Krog (1974 and 1976), Ketil Bjørnstad (1974, 1976), Jon Christensen / Pål Thowsen (1976), Sheila Jordan (1978) and Pål Thowsen (1979).
In 1980 he made the LP "Lifelines" under his own name with Kenny Wheeler, Steve Dobrogosz and Paul Motian, started a trio with Dobrogosz and Alex Riel (1980-1982), made the recording "A Molde Concert" 1981, besides recording with David Darling (1981) and Bill Frisell (1982), before he and Jon Christensen in 1982 formed a quintet with the young musicians Nils Petter Molvær, Tore Brunborg and Jon Balke, the group that from 1984 became known as Masqualero after their first recording (1983).
The group made an additional three recordings ("Bande a Part" 1985, "Areo" 1987 and "Re-enter" 1990), received three Spellemann awards (1983, 19896 and 1991), and have performed at several festivals and toured both in Europe and the US.
Arild Andersen was the third jazz musician to receive the Gammleng award (1984). Aside from Masqualero this vital bassist has been active in many other connections, as a member of the Danish Karsten Houmark Quintet (recording 1985), taken part in various combinations with people such as Janne Schaffer, Björn J:son Lindh, Alphonse Mouzon, John Scofield, Ralph Towner and Nana Vasconcelos. He has been festival composer: "Gjennom vinterdikt og eventyr" ("Through Winter Poems and Fairytales") for Dølajazz 1984, "Sagn" ("Myths") for Vossajazz 1990 and "Arv" ("Legacy") for the Bergen Music Festival 1993 - a stimulating union of Norwegian folk music and jazz. He has made records with Alfred Janson (1987), Ketil Bjørnstad (1990 and 2000), Tomasz Stanko (1991), and under his own name: "Sagn" ("Myths") 1990, "If You Look Far Enough" with Ralph Towner and Nana Vasconcelos 1991-1992, "Arv" 1993 and "Hyperborean" 1996.
In 1994 he created the music for the theatrical production of "Kristin Lavransdatter" (recording 1995), had a trio with Frode Alnæs and Rune Arnesen at Kongsberg 1995, and made his own "Arild Andersen Prosjekt" for the opening concert at Molde the same year . In 1997 too he played at Molde with his own trio and with Petter Wettre, and in 1998 the folk dance record "Sommerbrisen" appeared - with Arild Andersen's unmistakable bass notes! His recordings of the 1900s were completed with non-Norwegian musicians, Vassilis Tsabropoulos / John Marshall in the CD "Achirana" (1999) and Markus Stockhausen / Patrice Héral in "Karta", and the 2000s were introduced with CDs by Roy Powell (2001), three tracks at the CD "Where flamingos fly" with Karin Krog and Jacob Young (2001) and a trio with Carsten Dahl and Patrice Heral ("The sign" 2002).
With Vassilis Tsabropoulos/John Marshall and Dahl/Heral respectively, new albums were recorded, resulting in the outings "The Triangle" and "Moon Water," both released in 2004. From 2002 onwards, Andersen has together with Stockhausen been a member of outfit "Joyosa", as documented on the CD released in 2004. Andersen received a commission for a work to be premiered at the Olympic Games in Athens which involved him composing music for Sophocles' Electra. The work was recorded on CD during 2002-2003 (published 2005). In 2003, he composed the score for a performance of Beckett's "Off" staged at Oslo’s Torshov Theatre. Beginning in 2004, Andersen has performed a string of applauded and truly fascinating solo concerts backed by subtle improvised electronic assistance.
2005 saw Andersen being bestowed with the honorable award of being "Artist in Residence" at the Molde International Jazz Festival. New recordings that followed this highly successful venture include Ferenc Snétbergers "Nomad" (released 2005), Plastic Art Foundation's "Line Square" (published 2005), "Andorra" (released 2006) and "Epona" (released 2007), the CD "Autumn Dull" (released 2006) together with Frode Alnæs and Stian Carstensen and "Now I want to monitor with you" with Hilde Louise Asbjornsen (recorded in 2006), Ketil Bjørnstad's "Devotions" (released 2007) and his own "Live at Belleville" from 2007 with Tommy Smith and Paolo Vinaccia.
2007-08 saw several discs with older footage being released: "NRK Sessions - Soul, Afro-jazz and Latin from the Club 7 Scene" with Karin Krog and Fred Nøddelunds orchestra from 1969, "Spectre" with Helge Hurums orchestras 1971-75 and Radka Toneff "Butterfly" with footage from the Kongsberg Jazz Festival 1977 and Norwegian and Danish broadcasts 1976-82.
2010 saw Andersen being bestowed with yet another prestigious award; The Ella Award which was presented to him at a ceremony during the Oslo Jazz Festival.
Arild Andersen, Bassist, Composer