Ballads, which really seems to make ballads out of ballads, has been considered both worthy of hanging on the museum wall alongside the other masterpieces and being accorded special merit as the jazz record most used for background music. Since no less a genius than the great French composer Erik Satie invented the concept of background music, this might not be such a contradiction or insult. Only the short "Circles" invites a real comparison with the piano music of Satie; elsewhere you're in extremely extended territory, Paul Bley's desire to play the slowest music in history meshing with a new style of rhythm section accompaniment that sounds like everything from tuning the drums to adjusting the drapes.
A fascinating set from three strong and contrasting musical personalities: Norwegian saxophonist, Brazilian guitarist-pianist, and US bassist making purposeful and creative music together on this previously unreleased live recording. “Carta de Amor” documents music captured at Munich’s Amerika Haus in April, 1981. Two years on from the much-loved albums “Magico” (ECM 1151) and “Folk Songs” (ECM 1170), the trio’s improvisational empathy and sensibilities were further honed by experiences as a touring group. Repertoire includes five pieces from Gismonti’s pen, with the title track heard in two variations, opening and closing this enthralling double album.
First ECM solo album from the Norwegian violinist who has gained many friends for his work with the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble. Økland’s solo music is strongly inspired by the rich Norwegian fiddle tradition and its freedom, variation and individuality, yet what he plays is not purely ‘folk music’ rather a reinvention of folk forms, with free improvisation and contemporary composition also powerful influences. The ‘personality’ of the instruments themselves is also an inspiration: on “Monograph” Økland makes the most of the ‘drone’ qualities of the viola d’amore and the Hardanger fiddle (he plays both old and modern models) as well as an old violin from 1700, in a recital of subtle and melodic invention.
“Avenging Angel” is Craig Taborn’s distinguished contribution to the great solo piano tradition at ECM, a powerful, purposeful and rigorous album, which rises to the challenges of the format and transcends them. The disc explores the textural dimensions of sound, builds new structures, uncovers a rugged lyricism. Recorded in the optimal acoustics of the recital room at Lugano’s Studio RSI, with Manfred Eicher producing, it’s Taborn’s first disc under his own name for ECM, following on from inspired sessions with Roscoe Mitchell, Evan Parker, David Torn and Michael Formanek.
La produzione di ECM è sconfinata ed estrarne una raccolta antologica sarebbe stato davvero improbo. Musica Jazz ha voluto così sottolineare un aspetto non sempre chiaro ai più, ovvero la qualità artistica e strumentale dei musicisti italiani, caratteristiche che hanno meritato l’attenzione di Manfred Eicher e del suo staff. E anche in questo caso la selezione non è stato semplice, costringendo a trascurare – obtorto collo ma per prosaiche ragioni di spazio – alcune eccellenti produzioni del passato.
Wolfgang Muthspiel – whom The New Yorker has called “a shining light” among today’s jazz guitarists – made his ECM leader debut in 2014 with the trio disc Driftwood, featuring him alongside two longtime colleagues, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Brian Blade. For his follow-up – Rising Grace – the Austrian guitarist has convened a very special quintet, adding jazz luminary Brad Mehldau on piano and the outstanding young trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire to the subtly virtuosic Grenadier/Blade rhythm section.
Ketil Bjørnstad’s passion for the English metaphysical poet John Donne (1572-1631) is a lifelong affair. His settings of Donne’s verse have led to recordings including The Shadow, Grace and the ECM album The Light. “After working with the texts of John Donne for more than twenty years, I still find new approaches to understanding what he wrote and I find music throughout. It is in the language, in the rhythm, in the silence between the sentences - a passionate quest for meaning and reconciliation. Donne's dramatic life is reflected in the texts and everywhere in them you will find the passion, melodies and sounds”.
ECM celebrates the occasion of pianist Keith Jarrett's 70th birthday with two simultaneous releases. One is a classical date for its New Series on which he performs piano concertos by Béla Bartók and Samuel Barber with two different orchestras. The other is Creation, a solo piano offering. While Jarrett has made dozens of solo records, this is unlike any in his catalog. Rather than document the unfolding of his in-the-moment ideas through a single performance, this set features nine sections compiled from half-a-dozen performances in four cities and five venues (all notated in the sleeve) during 2014.
When Kenny Wheeler expatriated from his native Canada to England, it was not headline news. But upon the release of Gnu High, he became a contemporary jazz figure to be recognized, revered and admired. Playing the flugelhorn exclusively for this, his ECM label debut, Wheeler's mellifluous tones and wealth of ideas came to full fruition. Whether chosen in collaboration with label boss Manfred Eicher or by Wheeler alone, picking pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette was a stroke of genius. They support the elongated and extended notions of Wheeler's in many real and important ways.