Italian pianist and composer Stefano Battaglia has recorded three previous offerings for ECM, all in different settings. Interestingly, The River of Anyder is his first to feature his trio, with bassist Salvatore Maiore and drummer/percussionist Roberto Dani. Battaglia, formerly a classical pianist, approaches composition and improvisation from that vantage point. When he does enter the jazz realm, it is through Italy's own grand jazz tradition from the '70s era on.
This six-CD set, with recordings from 1972 to 1984, includes the albums Conception Vessel, Tribute, Dance, Le Voyage, Psalm and It Should’ve Happened A Long Time Ago. Paul Motian’s innovative drumming with the great trios of Bill Evans and Paul Bley had already assured him of a place in jazz’s history books, but Motian had not considered life as a bandleader until ECM proposed a recording session under his own name. “Conception Vessel” opened floodgates of creativity. Through these recordings we hear not only the evolution of several outstanding Motian ensembles and the birth of the enduring Motian/Frisell/Lovano trio, but also the growth of confidence of a unique jazz composer. In Paul’s music, memories of Turkish and Armenian melodies he had heard as a child were filtered through a love of jazz.
William Byrd (1543-1623) has been called the greatest English composer, an arbiter of the sublime and master of his craft. And while discerning early music listeners have a fair number of recordings to choose from in order to put any stake into this claim, this offering from ECM is as sensitive an introduction as any into all things Byrd.
Splitting his time between the electric and acoustic pianos and a bit of organ, Jarrett teams up with drummer/percussionist Jack DeJohnette in a series of experimental duets, his only electric session for ECM. The all-acoustic title number ranges all over the lot, from tootling on a bamboo (?) flute to the energizing barrelhouse gospel riffs that would bloom in the solo concerts.
Keith Jarrett's numerous volumes of improvised solo piano recordings are all treasure troves of spontaneous music making. Documented since the 1970s, they reveal the opening of his music as it readily embraces classical and sacred music influences, filters out what is unnecessary in his technique, and encounters the depth and breadth of the jazz tradition and his own unique abilities as a composer. The four discs in A Multitude of Angels were recorded in as many Italian cities during the last week of October 1996 – some 20 months after the concert captured on La Scala.
From the very first cut here, "The Lover of Beirut", Brahem's fascinating blend of traditional Eastern-flavored tonalities and his very jazz-like sense of free rhythms mix, in an astonishingly instinctual and intimate way, with Gesing's moody clarinet, their melodic lines at times doubling before breaking free to bend and swerve off into a melodic maze before slowly returning to their intricate Byzantine dance.
Though Heavy Heart was supposedly the "mellow, sensual" album Carla Bley had in mind, Night-Glo is more like it – a relaxed, easygoing, easy-listening series of compositions that nearly spills over into fuzak. Writing for a basic sextet with an added five-man horn section, most effectively when one color melts gently into another, Bley permits the lazy pina-colada mood to amble undisturbed from track to track.
David Darling continues his extraordinary solo cello voyage launched on Journal October (1979) and continued with Cello (1992). The cinematic qualities of Darling's solo music has led to its use in films by Jean Luc Godard and Wim Wenders. Dark Wood inspires a different art form: the CD booklet contains a short story, 'Disturbing the Night', specially written to accompany the music by Barry Lopez, American author of the acclaimed Arctic Dreams. Lopez wrote the story as a literary counterpoint to the evocative music of Dark Wood. The music experiments further with the unique multi-tracking techniques used on Cello, creating haunting harmonies and rich textures.
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.