Athens-born and Munich-based composer Konstantia Gourzi makes her ECM New Series label debut. “What historical voices commingle in the current idiom of a composer whose cultural roots lie in the birthplace of rhetoric, but who emigrated to take a musical apprenticeship in European constructivism?” asks Ingrid Allwardt in the liner notes.
Violin virtuoso Paul Giger revisits his roots with this, his second solo recording, Alpstein, which features pieces for violin, saxophone, and percussion based on the folk traditions of the Alpstein region of Switzerland. Three pieces here are entitled "Zäuerli" – named after the sad majestic "natur yodel" tradition of the Outer Rhoden region. These are sweeping and majestic with high harmonic bowstrokes. This recording features the saxophone work of Jan Garbarek and the percussion of Pierre Favre. Both add an incredible warmth to the recording on the pieces they are featured on, most notably "Alpsegen" with its soaring sax lines and manic percussion. Also notable is "Chlauseschuppel," featuring the sounds of cowbells specific to that region. Informative booklet included.
Norwegian guitarist Jacob Young’s sophomore effort follows coolly on the heels of his debut, Evening Falls. The wealth of Scandinavian talent at his side is enviable, to say the least. Trumpeter Mathias Eick, reedman Vidar Johansen, bassist Mats Eilertsen, and drummer Jon Christensen bring their uniquely tessellated feel for rhythm and hues to ten of Young’s originals, of which the title track sets the stage with the bandleader’s unmistakable acoustic. Mallet-caressed cymbals, trumpet, bass clarinet, and upright bass comingle in simpatico resonance, riding a slow and steady frequency from start to finish.
This is arguably the first recording to fully flesh out the aural expanse for which ECM has come to be known. Although I am well aware of the immense groundswell of musical activity that was the 1970s, certainly an album like this was a refreshing and altogether mind-altering experience for those fortunate enough to be young musical explorers at the time. Featuring a lineup of musicians who would go on to weave ECM’s significance into the fabric of time, Solstice is a tour de force of musicianship, writing, arrangement, and recording.
Enjoy three A-list players teaming up to celebrate the sorties into the wilder reaches of jazz-rock made by Tony Williams’s band, Lifetime. John Scofield is at his bluesy best vying with the versatile Hammond of Larry Goldings, Jack DeJohnette on drums is a precise mix of grace and fire.
The stage cantata David features Eleni Karaindrou’s music for a unique piece of Aegean drama, a verse play with words by an unknown 18th century poet from the island of Chios. Its text (first published only in 1979), invites a musical response and Greek composer Karaindrou rises splendidly to the challenge, imaginatively moving between past and present in her settings for mezzo-soprano and baritone singers, instrumental soloists, choir and orchestra.
The Danish String Quartet has had some wildly original programming ideas; here they settle for just a well-thought-out set of contemporary pieces. All three of these string quartets are early works by composers who have since gone on to renown; at the time of the album's 2016 release, Hans Abrahamsen was gaining lots of attention from well beyond his native Denmark.
Black Ice is a nice image for Dutch pianist Wolfert Brederode’s new trio music, with its gleaming lyricism, transparency, and hint of danger, as well as sleek melodic invention both from the leader and from Icelandic bassist Gulli Gudmundsson. Brederode and Gudmundsson have collaborated often over the last two decades in contexts from free improvisation to theatre music and have a keenly honed intuitive understanding. Jasper van Hulten is a resourceful addition to the team, a tone-sensitive drummer adept at embellishing the sensitive musical language and sense of interplay. The album, recorded at Lugano’s Studio RSI in July 2015 and produced by Manfred Eicher, is issued as the Brederode Trio goes on tour in the Netherlands…
Kenny Wheeler's beautiful sound on trumpet and his wide range are well-displayed on his four compositions, three of which are given performances over ten minutes long. With the assistance of ECM regulars Jan Garbarek (on tenor and soprano), guitarist John Abercrombie, bassist Dave Holland, drummer Jack DeJohnette and (on one song) guitarist Ralph Towner, Wheeler emphasizes lyricism and romantic moods on this fine set of original music.