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ECM

 

Tigran Hamasyan, Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang

Atmosphères

 

Tigran Hamasyan: piano

Arve Henriksen: trumpet

Eivind Aarset: guitar

Jan Bang: live sampling, samples

 

U.S. Release date: September 9, 2016

ECM 2414/15                 

B0024902-02

UPC:  6025 471 4269 6                                                      

 

For this recording, Tigran Hamasyan, Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang came together as a quartet at the invitation of Manfred Eicher, and Atmosphères captures the newly-formed group’s evocative music as it unfolded in a highly-creative session at Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo in June 2014. The entire double album was recorded and mixed in one pass, the project completed in just three days, in the tradition of many improvisational ECM recordings.

 

The idea for the recording was triggered by a September 2013 Deutschlandfunk radio program which included a brief excerpt from a performance at Norway’s Punkt Festival in Kristiansand, featuring pianist Tigran Hamasyan in duo with live sampling musician Jan Bang. Eicher felt there was potential to be explored here and, after talks with the players, it was decided to bring trumpeter Arve Henriksen and guitarist Eivind Aarset into the project. The Norwegian participants had previously played in diverse configurations on ECM, of course: Jan Bang on Eivind Aarset’s Dream Logic, for instance, and Bang and Aarset on Arve Henriksen’s Cartography, but with the involvement of Tigran Hamasyan, other inspirational sources were activated.

 

Hamasyan, in this period, was concurrently preparing material for his album of new choral arrangements of Armenian sacred music, Luys i Luso, which was recorded three months after Atmosphères. Armenian themes from Komitas Vardapet (1869-1935) are incorporated into this quartet album, too, as islands in the flow: the waves of the music slowly swell and subside around them. An experimental album of ambient allure, it can be approached at a number of levels. The listener is invited, by turns, to drift with the music, explore its sonic detail, and follow the improvisations as structural forms are revealed or new shapes created.

 

The band members have different responsibilities in the music. If its melodic orientation comes often from Tigran Hamasyan’s world (“Tsirani tsar”, “Garun a”, “Hoy Nazan”), Arve Henriksen picks up on the implications of the Armenian material with remarkable verve. With his uncanny ability to approximate the sound of the duduk on the trumpet, he gets inside the songs in his own way, and leads them somewhere else.

 

“Atmosphères” could be said to be Eivind Aarset’s particular specialization: he’s a creator of soundscapes which unfold with their own dream logic. A subtle player, too, who can almost unobtrusively establish a musical environment with sustained single notes or drones. This is happening from the first moments of “Traces I” on the present recording.

 

Jan Bang’s real-time sound processing (effectively a mix within the mix, as one of the music’s textural components) and his scatterings of live samples serve to thicken the plot. Because Bang is often reflecting the sounds of his co-musicians back into the ensemble for further development, his contributions are not always immediately identifiable to the listener, but they are integral to the album’s enveloping sense of mystery, its persuasive atmospheres.

 

Returning the music to one of its points of genesis, the quartet plays a special album release concert at Norway’s Punkt Festival on September 3. The group continues with concerts at Oslo’s Victoria Nasjonal Jazz Scene (September 8), Paris’s Cité de la Musique (September 9), Schloß Elmau in the Bavarian Alps (September 10), and Munich’s Prinzregententheater (November 29).

 

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Further listening: In addition to recordings mentioned above, Arve Henriksen can also be heard this season on Sinikka Langeland’s new album, The Magical Forest, and recent ECM releases with Eivind Aarset include River Silver by Michel Benita’s group Ethics, and Surrounded By Sea by the Andy Sheppard Quartet. Other albums with compositions of Komitas include Kim Kashkashian’s Hayren: Music of Komitas and Tigran Mansurian, and Komitas by the Gurdjieff Ensemble. Sacred music of Komitas is also incorporated in Tigran Hamasyan’s Luys i Luso.

 

 

ECM

 

 

Iro Haarla

Ante Lucem

for Jazz Quintet and Symphony Orchestra

 

Iro Haarla: piano, harp

Hayden Powell: trumpet

Trygve Seim: soprano and tenor saxophones

Ulf Krokfors: double bass

Mika Kallio: drums & percussion

Norrlands Operans Symfoniorkester 

Jukka Iisakkila, conductor

U.S. Release date:  August 26, 2016

 

ECM 2457                                                                      

UPC: 6025 473 2371 2

 

 “Few jazz artists are as successful as Haarla in creating

a world, a scope of feeling, and making it their own.”

                                                                                                                  JazzTimes

 

Ante Lucem, a powerful work for jazz quintet and symphony orchestra by Finnish pianist/harpist/composer Iro Haarla, was commissioned by the Norrlands Opera Symphony Orchestra and its leader Marco Feklistoff and premiered at the Umeå Jazz Festival in October 2012.  It was recorded at the Concert Hall of NorrlandsOperan in Umeå, and the album is drawn both from the premiere concert and from sessions on the following days. Ante Lucem was subsequently mixed in Stockholm by Torbjörn Samuelsson, Manfred Eicher and Iro Haarla.

 

In a review of the Umeå Festival for All about Jazz, John Kelman pointed out that “what distinguished [Ante Lucem] from other symphonic collaborations was its remarkable integration. This was not a case of alternating passages for orchestra and quintet, though there were plenty of feature spots for Haarla’s group (…) Instead this suite, intended to reflect on that quiet time of day between moonset and sunrise, traversed a great range of imagery and emotion…Haarla’s writing moved from maelstrom-like turbulence to deeper melancholy and, ultimately, that gentle silence-approaching beauty which evokes so much promise at the start of each and every day. Whether it was more dramatic turns with the full orchestra or breakdowns into smaller subsets, it was an evocative and provocative performance.”

 

Ante Lucem is comprised, Iro Haarla explains in her liner notes, of “four separate yet closely linked pieces”: “Songbird Chapel”, “Persevering with Winter”, “…and the Darkness has not overcome it…”, and “Ante Lucem – Before Dawn”. Each of these compositions, in different ways, reflects upon the “struggle between darkness and light” and “our earthy pilgrimage through sufferings, and overcoming difficulties.”

 

The opening “Songbird Chapel”, with stark harp and a mournful melody for saxophone and trumpet soon taken up by the strings, is dedicated to the memory of Haarla’s mother.

 

Much of the inspiration for Haarla’s music comes from nature, its relentlessness as well as its beauty. The title “Persevering With Winter” means what it says: “It’s an allegory for winter in the north…the long period of darkness, and clear frosty days…the northern winds which sweep mercilessly over the horizon.”  In the closing title track “Ante Lucem - Before Dawn”, the scene shifts to the Garden of Gethsemane… 

 

Born in Tampere, Finland, in 1956, Iro Haarla studied piano and composition at Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy, then put her own creative ambitions on hold as she devoted herself to the music of Edward Vesala (1945-1999). Haarla was orchestrator and arranger of much of the music played by Vesala’s Sound & Fury band, as heard for instance on the ECM albums Lumi, Ode To The Death of Jazz, Invisible Storm and Nordic Gallery. In going on to present her own music to the world, she has had the continued support of musicians previously associated with Vesala. Foremost amongst these is Ulf Krokfors, the former Sound & Fury bassist. Norwegian saxophonist Trygve Seim played with Vesala in the mid-1990s, and credits the drummer/composer as a formative influence. 

 

Ulf Krokfors and Trygve Seim appeared as members of Haarla’s quintet on two previous releases, Northbound (recorded 2004), and Vespers (2010). Bassist Krokfors previously recorded for ECM with Vesala on Ode To The Death of Jazz and on two albums with Raoul Bjkörkenheim’s band Krakatau (Volition, Matinale).  Saxophonist Seim has played on many ECM discs including, this season, his own Rumi Songs, as well as The Magical Forest with Sinikka Langeland and Rubicon with Mats Eilertsen. 

 

On Ante Lucem the Haarla group is completed by Hayden Powell, the British-born and Norwegian-raised trumpeter, whose work with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and as leader of his own trio has received critical praise.  Finnish drummer Mika Kallio played with Ulf Krokfors in pianist Samuli Mikkonen’s trio in the late 1990s. Kallio has worked with virtually all of Finland’s leading jazz musicians and with international improvisers including Tomasz Stanko, Wadada Leo Smith and John Zorn.

 

The Norrlands Operans Symfoniorkester grew out of what was originally a military brass band, formed in 1841. The string section was added in 1974. The Orchestra took on its current form and formal status in 1991 and has undergone significant development over the past 35 years. Conductor Jukka Iisakkila studied with Jorma Panula, Martyn Brabbins and Esa-Pekka Salonen. He has won many awards and given numerous first performances of works by contemporary composers.   

 

 

ECM

 

Trygve Seim

Rumi Songs

 

Tora Augestad: vocal

Trygve Seim: tenor and soprano saxophones

Frode Haltli: accordion

Svante Henryson: violoncello

 

U.S. Release date: September 9, 2016

ECM 2449                       

B0025523-02

UPC: 6025 473 2253 1                                                       

 

Norwegian saxophonist Trygve Seim introduces his new quartet and a wide-ranging program of compositions which draw inspiration from the poetry of Jelaluddin Rumi. With pieces variously influenced by the classical Lieder tradition, by contemporary chamber music, Arab music, Indian music and more, these Rumi Songs resist concise definition. Some of the songs are tightly written, while others incorporate intense and inventive improvisation from bandleader Seim, accordionist Frode Haltli and cellist Svante Henryson. Mezzo-soprano Tora Augestad rises splendidly to the challenge of singing Seim’s settings of Rumi, which are based upon English translations of the poems by Coleman Barks and Kabir Helminski. “The adventure,” says Trygve, “has been to drive this song cycle in different directions by seeking many of the layers and colors in the poems and using them musically.”

 

With the encouragement of the late soprano singer Anne-Lise Berntsen, Trygve Seim composed his first Rumi Songs in 2003, and he has been developing the project since then, along the way exploring different instrumentation (from voice, church organ and piano to the massed ranks of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra) before settling on the present line-up. In 2013 the full cycle of Rumi Songs was premiered in Østfjold, Norway, and further fine-tuned on tour before the present recording, which was produced by Manfred Eicher at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in February 2015. The project’s genesis is described in detail in the album’s liner notes.

 

Trygve Seim made an immediate impact with his ECM leader debut Different Rivers which won the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik as Album of the Year in 2001. Since then he has been heard on more than 20 ECM albums including Sangam with his large ensemble, on recordings with the collective The Source, in duos with Frode Halti and with Andreas Utnem, with Jacob Young’s group, and more. This summer he is omnipresent, appearing also with Mats Eilertsen’s septet on Rubicon, with Iro Haarla and symphony orchestra on Ante Lucem, and with Sinikka Langeland and the Trio Mediaeval on The Magical Forest, as well as his own Rumi Songs. A masterful jazz improviser, Trygve Seim expanded his palette with studies of Arab music in Cairo, and between 2005 and 2010 collaborated often with Egyptian musician Fathy Salama.

For Seim’s complete discography, visit his web site: www.trygveseim.com

 

Tora Augestad makes her first ECM appearance with Rumi Songs. In demand as both singer and actor, her early performing life found her specializing in Hanns Eisler, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. She has worked often with Swiss theater director Christoph Marthaler and given first performances of works including Beat Furrer’s opera Wüstenbuch. Cage, Schoenberg, Cathy Berberian and Berio all feature in her recital repertoire, and she leads her own band Music For A While, which spans jazz and early music.

 

Frode Haltli is one of the most creative contemporary accordionists, working in the fields of new music, improvisation, and traditional folk. His recordings on ECM include Looking on Darkness with music of Bent Sørensen, Asbjørn Schaathun, Magnus Lindberg, PerMagnus Lindborg, and Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje, and Passing Images featuring Garth Knox, Maja Ratkje and Arve Henriksen, as well as Yeraz, a duo recording with Trygve Seim. ECM New Series will shortly issue the album Air with music written for Haltli by Bent Sørensen and Hans Abrahamsen and featuring the accordionist playing solo and with the Arditti Quartet and the Trondheim Soloists.

 

Cellist Svante Henryson, who has previously appeared on ECM recordings in duo with Ketil Bjørnstad (Night Song) and as a member of Jon Balke’s Magnetic North Orchestra (Kyanos, Magnetic Works), began his musical career as principal bassist with the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra. As bass guitarist he worked with Yngwie Malmsteen’s group, and as cellist has been a chamber music partner to Anne Sofie von Otter. A veteran of numerous sessions across the idioms, he is also a composer of orchestral, choral and chamber music.

 

Jelaluddin Rumi, born in 1207 in Balkh, now part of Afghanistan, grew up in Waksh in Tajikistan, before moving with his family to the Anatolian city of Konya, where he spent most of his life as religious teacher and vastly prolific poet. Tolerance and open-mindedness are key themes in his verse, and legend has it that his funeral in 1273 was attended by mourners of every faith. Trygve Seim describes his work as “very human poetry, beyond religion, countries, race.”

 

Trygve Seim launches Rumi Songs with a special concert at the Oslo Jazz Festival on August 20th.

 

 

 

 
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Carla Bley piano; Andy Sheppard tenor & soprano saxophones; Steve Swallow bass

"Andando el Tiempo features a handful of inventions for her longtime trio with Mr. Swallow and the saxophonist Andy Sheppard. Chamber-like and willowy, suffused with melancholy, it reflects her sly noncompliance with jazz and classical conventions.” –Nate Chinen, New York Times

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Jack DeJohnette: drums, piano, electronic percussion; Ravi Coltrane tenor, soprano and sopranino saxophones; Matthew Garrison electric bass, electronics

“Jack DeJohnette's trio reconfigures recent jazz history into a rich, forward-looking spiritual aesthetic.” –Mike Hobart, Financial Times

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Avishai Cohen trumpet; Yonathan Avishai piano; Eric Revis double bass; Nasheet Waits drums; Bill McHenry tenor saxophone.

"Besides being Cohen's finest composing and playing to date, Into the Silence is an extraordinary project on every level. There is a transcendence in this music that is both uplifting and heartbreaking [...] A masterpiece."
–Karl Ackermann, allaboutjazz

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Tord Gustavsen piano, electronics; Simin Tander voice; Jarle Vespestad drums

"Tord Gustavsen’s piano quietly rumbles, chimes modally, then slides chromatically sideways into unexpected cadences of different flavors: gospel, blues, hymns, Herbie Hancock, Brahms." –Richard Lehnert, Stereophile

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Nik Bärtsch piano; Sha bass clarinet & contrabass clarinet; Kaspar Rast drums, percussion; Nicolas Stocker drums, tuned percussion; Etienne Abelin violin; Ola Sendecki violin; David Schnee viola; Solme Hong cello; Ambrosius Huber cello

"Continuum, is a hushed jewel of Bärtsch’s self-described “ritual groove music,” . . . spiraling rhythmic patterns with sexy and subtle built-in tension-and-release moves." –Richard Gehr, Relix

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Releasing August 5th

 

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Sinikka Langeland kantele, vocals; Trygve Seim soprano & tenor saxophones; Arve Henriksen trumpet; Anders Jormin double bass; Markku Ounaskari drums, percussion; Trio Mediaeval (Anna Maria Friman, Berit Opheim; Linn Andrea Fuglseth) vocals

The colors of The Magical Forest glow in this remarkable recording which brings together Sinikka Langeland’s Norwegian-Finnish-Swedish Starflowers quintet with the singers of the Trio Mediӕval. It’s an inspired concept: the Trio Mediӕval, with their affinity for folk music and their unique vocal blend, adapt themselves ideally to Sinikka’s sound-world, which is at once archaic, timeless and contemporary. The quintet members, all bandleaders in their own right, are amongst the most characterful players in Scandinavia today, and Sinikka sets them free to improvise around her cycle of songs, built upon myths and legends of the world tree.

 

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Trygve Seim tenor & soprano saxophones; Eirik Hegdal soprano, baritone sax, clarinet & bass clarinet; Thomas Dahl guitar; Rob Waring marimba & vibraphone; Harmen Fraanje piano, Fender Rhodes; Mats Eilertsen double bass; Olavi Louhivuori drums

Norwegian bassist Mats Eilertsen has been a strong and supportive presence on a dozen ECM sessions to date. With Rubicon he steps forward to present his own music, with an international cast. The album features compositions originally written in response to a commission from the Vossajazz Festival. All About Jazz reviewed the premiere performance: “Rubicon proved to be a very dynamic work. Eilertsen ensured that each of the instrumentalists took their share of the spotlight, brought together combinations of players that emphasized tonal variation, and created ensemble sections bursting with life.” After fine-tuning the material on tour, Mats brought his septet to Oslo’s Rainbow Studio, where Manfred Eicher produced this definitive version of Rubicon in May 2015.

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John Taylor piano; Palle Danielsson double bass; Peter Erskine drums

The newest addition to ECM’s popular Old and New Masters Series is a box set reprising the four albums made by Peter Erskine’s American-British-Swedish trio with John Taylor and Palle Danielsson between 1992 and 1997: You Never Know, As It Is, Time Being and Juni. If its core concept – a piano trio led by a drummer – was unorthodox, the group was nonetheless influential, and the recordings provide an excellent environment for appreciating the distinctive writing and playing of John Taylor. The British pianist was the Erskine Trio’s primary composer, with the drummer-leader and bassist Danielsson also contributing pieces and the repertoire topped up with tunes by Vince Mendoza and Kenny Wheeler. Of his trio mates Erskine says, "We drew out our most explorative and interesting playing from each other. Without trying to be, we were a truly unique group. I’ve heard nothing like it before or since.”

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Jack DeJohnette drums, piano, organ; John Abercrombie electric guitar
DeJohnette has recorded prolifically for ECM since 1971 and this unique solo album stands as a classic among early ECM recordings. DeJohnette paints evocative aural soundscapes with ally Abercrombie complementing him on a few tracks.

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Nana Vasconcelos Berimbau, Percussion, Voice, Gongs
Egberto Gismonti Super 8-String Guitar
Members of the RSO Stuttgart; Mladen Gutesha conductor

Nana translated “Saudades“ as “big nostalgia“ and his first leader record for ECM was intended to convey his feelings for his native country, Brazil. The music for strings on Saudades was written by Egberto Gismonti who also plays in a beautiful duet with Nana called “Cego Aderaldo”.

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Paul Bley piano; John Surman soprano & baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Bill Frisell guitar; Paul Motian drums

Recorded 1986. A classic ECM production project, and a gamble that works beautifully. Bley and Motian hadn’t played together for more than 20 years, and Frisell and Bley met for the first time in the studio. Compositions by Carla Bley and Annette Peacock are placed alongside new pieces by each of the participants.

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John Surman baritone & soprano saxophones, bass clarinet; Paul Bley piano; Gary Peacock double bass; Tony Oxley drums

Recorded 1991. Keen to further the adventurous spirit of the collaborations with Bley, British reedman John Surman proposed a quartet again juxtaposing old associations and new encounters. Repertoire is mostly from Surman’s pen, but also includes Bley’s old tune “Figfoot”, another reworking of Carla Bley’s “Seven”, and Gary Peacock’s “Only Yesterday”.

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Paul Bley piano; John Surman baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Gary Peacock double bass; Tony Oxley drums

Recorded 1991. More material from the richly creative Adventure Playground session, this time emphasizing solos and duos but with all four participants coming together on “Interface”.

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Paul Bley piano; Evan Parker tenor & soprano saxophones; Barre Phillips double bass

Recorded 1994. Paul Bley and saxophonist Evan Parker play together for the first time in this highly attractive, totally improvised session with Barre Phillips on bass as mediator between their respective sound worlds. “Superb” – The Penguin Guide To Jazz On CD.

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ECM

 

Mats Eilertsen

Rubicon

 

Trygve Seim: tenor and soprano saxophones

Eirik Hegdal: soprano and baritone saxophones, clarinet and bass clarinet Thomas Dahl: guitar

Rob Waring: marimba and vibraphone

Harmen Fraanje: piano, Fender Rhodes

Mats Eilertsen: double bass

Olavi Louhivuori: drums

 

U.S. Release date; August 5, 2016

ECM 2469                         

B0025280-02

UPC: 6025 477 4315 2                                                                   

 

Rubicon proved to be a very dynamic work. Eilertsen ensured that each of the instrumentalists took their share of the spotlight, brought together combinations of players that emphasized tonal variation, and created ensemble sections bursting with life.”  

-          All About Jazz, reviewing the live premiere of Rubicon

 

To ‘cross the Rubicon’ is to pass the point of no return. Norwegian bassist Mats Eilertsen has been a strong and supportive presence on a dozen ECM sessions to date, in contexts ranging from the Tord Gustavsen Ensemble to the bands of Nils Økland, Mathias Eick and Jacob Young. By temperament a team player, with Rubicon he steps boldly forward to present his own music, with an international ensemble. The album features a cycle of pieces originally written in response to a commission from the VossaJazz Festival, and premiered there in 2014. After fine-tuning the material on tour, Mats brought his septet to Oslo’s Rainbow Studio, where Manfred Eicher produced Rubicon in May 2015. “An album is a different context from live performance, Mats says, “and in the studio I recognized a need for more focus. We recorded a lot of material and then, with the help of Manfred, selected the music that worked best.”

 

The Rubicon band rounds up Eilertsen associates from diverse projects. Mats has played extensively with Norwegian guitarist Thomas T. Dahl and Finnish drummer Olavi Louhivuori in the Skydive Trio. Saxophonist Eirik Hegdal is an associate from days at the Trondheim Conservatory where the band Dingobats was founded. Dutch pianist Harmen Fraanje and Mats first collaborated when Eilertsen was living in the Netherlands; in recent years they’ve played together in a trio completed by Thomas Strønen. Vibraphonist Rob Waring, originally from New York, and a resident of Oslo since the early 1980s, has worked with Mats Eilertsen in singer Elin Rosseland’s trio. And Mats and Trygve Seim also have plenty of shared experience, including work in The Source with Øyvind Brække and Per Oddvar Johansen (documented on the band’s eponymously-titled 2005 ECM recording). Seim was drafted into the Rubicon band as a last minute substitute for Tore Brunborg at the Voss festival, but his individual voice as a player was rapidly integrated into Eilertsen’s musical conception. Indeed, part of the success of the project is the way in which Mats’s writing reveals its own identity while framing and guiding the soloists and finding fresh colors in the juxtaposing or blending of their sounds.

 

“I liked the idea of having both piano and guitar,” says Eilertsen, “and Harmen Fraanje and Thomas Dahl work together really well, in a way that many other guitarists and pianists couldn’t. And then I wanted to add Rob Waring’s vibraphone as another color, because I really like that ringing, overwhelming, mallet percussion sound.”

 

A sense of space remains in the music. “That was the challenge for me as a composer and leader, to retain a clear signature in the material while leaving enough room in the pieces for the individual improvisers to feel that they can contribute to the music. I tried to give the players the kind of freedom that I like to have when I join somebody’s musical project. I wanted to create a musical environment in which the players would feel inspired. In concert, there were extended solo sections from the musicians that hooked up at different places.” Of these, Harmen Fraanje’s piano feature “Crossing The Creek” has been retained. Added to the program is the improvisation “Wood And Water”, which features Mats’s bass, Rob Waring on marimba, and Eirik Hegdal on clarinet, in an intermingling of woody tonalities. Elsewhere, Hegdal’s reeds are contrasted effectively with Trygve Seim’s. “Eirik is such a resource to have in a band,” Eilertsen enthuses. “He plays a whole range of instruments, has really good ideas for orchestration and instrumentation, and knows how to blend into any formation in a humble way...” In general in Rubicon, the art is in the blending, and in the changing instrumental colors. It is not demonstrably a ‘bass player’s album’, though there is plenty of soulful and lyrical bass to be heard already from the opening “Canto” onwards, but Eilertsen has always been a very musical player committed to the context at hand.

 

Reflecting on his musical journey so far, Mats Eilertsen notes that his artistic development “hasn’t been a straight line. There have been lots of detours and expeditions in the dark, finding musical ideas that I’ve wanted to carry along with me. It feels to me that there is so much music still to be played. In the last few years, much of the music I’ve played has been very melodic, low-keyed music. There was no plan, that’s just the way it happened. Looking back at the beginnings, it wasn’t like that at all.” (Mats’s early years included textural and electronic experiments with the first edition of Food, improvised chamber jazz with the group Parish, and fiery performances with Sonny Simmons.) “But I don’t feel like I’ve abandoned any musical areas, and I still like to do many different things…” The idea of exploring other sound combinations has been furthered in recent performances in which MatS’s trio, with Harmen Fraanje and Thomas Strønen, has been joined by the singers of the Trio Mediaeval.

 

 

ECM

 

Sinikka Langeland

The Magical Forest

 

Sinikka Langeland: kantele, vocals

Trygve Seim: soprano and tenor saxophones

Arve Henriksen: trumpet

Anders Jormin: double bass

Markku Ounaskari: drums, percussion

Trio Mediaeval:

Anna Maria Friman, Berit Opheim; Linn Andrea Fuglseth: vocals

 

U.S. Release date : August 5, 2016

ECM 2448                           

B0025284-02

UPC:  6025 477 6831 5                         

 

The Magical Forest brings together Sinikka Langeland’s Norwegian-Finnish-Swedish Starflowers quintet with the singers of the Trio Mediӕval. It’s an inspired concept: the Trio Mediӕval, with their affinity for folk music and their unique vocal blend, adapt themselves ideally to Sinikka’s sound-world, which is at once archaic, timeless and contemporary. Quintet members Trygve Seim, Arve Henriksen, Anders Jormin and Markku Ouanskari are amongst the most strikingly original players in Scandinavia today. All bandleaders in their own right, they have been putting their concerted musical energies at the service of Langeland’s concepts for a decade and more: the quintet appeared both on Starflowers (recorded 2006) and The Land that Is Not (2010), and Seim and Ounaskari, furthermore, played on The half-finished heaven (recorded 2013, released 2015). The earlier releases with the quintet were also explorations of sung poetry, setting texts from Hans Børli, Edith Södergran and Olav Håkonson Hauge. This time, the kantele player and verse-maker/composer from eastern Norway’s “forest of the Finns”, looks at much older texts in a fresh cycle of songs built upon myths and legends...

 

“It is inspiring, says Sinikka, “to find traces and fragments of ideas about the world tree, axis mundi, in Finnskogen. I have transformed these and some parallel stories into songs that are encircled by instrumental passages and improvisations by the musicians.” She quotes the late historian-philosopher Mircea Eliade: "Every Microcosm, every inhabited region, has a center, a place that is sacred above all."

 

The songs here, beginning with Sinikka’s setting of a traditional rune song text, “Puun Loitsu (Prayer to the Tree Goddess)”, celebrate the spirit of place. Langeland has been based in Finnskogen since 1992, and the sounds of the forest and the deep history of the region are integral to her work. In her notes to The Magical Forest, she writes that “Finnskogen can be regarded as the western part of a cultural belt that runs eastward through Finland, Russia and Siberia all the way to Japan.” Common to this shamanistic pathway are songs and hunting rituals, such as the one Langeland illuminates on “Kamui”.

 

Sinikka Langeland was born in Kirkenær in southeastern Norway in 1961, and studied piano, guitar and contemporary folk song. In 1981 she began to play the kantele, the Finnish table-harp which would become her primary musical interest, along with singing. In the 1980s she also devoted time to theater work and to studies at Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris and at the University of Oslo, where she earned a degree in musicology in 1992. She then became absorbed in a massive research project, foraging for old songs and music from Finnskogen.

 

In performance, her exploration of older forms has always been an open-minded one. Improvisers including Anders Jormin began appearing on her recordings from the mid-1990s, with Arve Henriksen first joining Sinikka on disc for the 2002 collection of rune songs, Runoja. With the recording of Starflowers, the combining of archaic and free elements resounded most positively. Since then, the ensemble has gained in strength. The idiosyncratic talents gathered in this band are also players who delight in shaping a group sound: nobody is clamoring for solo space, and new colors emerge in exchanges among the musicians and in free ensemble playing. As Langeland’s own instrumental confidence has grown, the kantele has come to have an increasingly important role also in the improvisations. Interaction in this band is further strengthened by a network of musical associations and alliances. Saxophonist Trygve Seim and trumpeter Arve Henriksen have collaborated in many contexts, and Arve has played as a member of Seim’s ensembles (refer to the albums Different Rivers and Sangam). Henriksen also works closely with Trio Mediaeval (an ECM album of this configuration is in preparation), while Trygve Seim and Markku Ounaskari now play together in the drummer’s Kuára trio.

 

The Trio Mediӕval was founded in 1997 as a vocal group specializing in early music, open to collaboration with contemporary composers, and with a strong interest also in folk ballads. In recent years, Trio Mediӕval has also worked increasingly in projects with jazz improvisers.

 

The Magical Forest was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in February 2015, and produced by Manfred Eicher. The full album line-up with Sinikka Langeland’s Starflowers group plus Trio Mediӕval will be appearing at Oslo’s Cosmopolite on October 28 and at Røgden Bruk Finnskogen on October 29.

For further information, visit Sinikka’s web site: www.sinikka.no

 

 

 
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The Danish String Quartet, one of the most widely-acclaimed chamber groups of the present moment, makes its ECM debut playing a program of British and Danish music: Thomas Adès’s Arcadiana (composed 1994), Per Nørgård’s Quartetto Breve (1952), and Hans Abrahamsen’s 10 Preludes (1973). The pieces were all written when the respective composers were each barely into their 20s, and have a freshness and intensity vividly conveyed in the DSQ’s interpretations.

“. . .the Danish are remarkable, as ever – capable of intense blend, extreme dynamic variation (in which they seem glued together), perfect intonation even on harmonics, and constant vitality and flow.” – Andrew Mellor, Gramophone

“Among all the dauntingly good young string quartets currently doing the rounds, the Danish String Quartet stand out: not because they’re shinier or plusher or pushier than the rest, but because of their nimble charisma, stylish repertoire and the way their light and grainy shading can turn on a dime. It’s an exacting program requiring grace, grit and clarity and the Danish players sound terrific – lithe and glassy in the Abrahamsen, richer in the Nørgard, able to capture the picturesque watery shimmer of the Adès but also the slime and murk below the surface. It’s a sophisticated performance.” – Kate Molleson, The Guardian

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ECM

Andrew Cyrille Quartet

The Declaration of Musical Independence

 

Andrew Cyrille: drums, percussion

Bill Frisell: guitar

Richard Teitelbaum: synthesizer, piano

Ben Street: double-bass

Release date:  September  23, 2016

ECM 2430 

B0025526-02

UPC: 6025 471 9575 3

 

The great jazz drummer Andrew Cyrille – whose associations have ranged from a long, vintage collaboration with Cecil Taylor to co-leading veteran collective Trio 3 with Oliver Lake and Reggie Workman – makes his ECM leader debut with The Declaration of Musical Independence. Featuring a quartet with guitar luminary Bill Frisell, keyboardist Richard Teitelbaum and bassist Ben Street, the album kicks off with an artfully oblique interpretation of John Coltrane’s “Coltrane Time,” led by Cyrille’s solo drum intro. The disc then features a sequence of sonically arresting originals, including Street’s luminous “Say…” and Frisell’s deeply felt “Kaddish” and “Song for Andrew,” with Frisell’s guitar alternately cutting and billowing, evoking some of his most illustrious past ECM performances. There are three atmospheric compositions by the band together – including dynamic soundscape “Dazzling (Perchordally Yours),” which highlights Cyrille’s distinctive sense of percussive drama.

 

Cyrille appeared on classic ECM and Watt LPs by the likes of Marion Brown, Carla Bley and the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, and, most recently, on Ben Monder’s Amorphae, but The Declaration of Musical Independence puts a deserved spotlight on this master of rhythm, a disciple of drum idol Philly Joe Jones and an inspiration to subsequent generations of jazz drummers. Summing up Cyrille’s art, Modern Drummer magazine has said: “Jazz historians would point out that his free and abstract playing with the world-renowned pianist Cecil Taylor shattered conventions of timekeeping and helped redefine the rhythms of modern jazz. But the diverse body of work that he’s amassed over his long career – which he continues to build upon with each new and intriguing project – proves that he’s always been most concerned with dealing with the now.”

 

The sessions for his ECM album – held in Brooklyn, NY, where Cyrille was born in 1939 – “were a whole lot of fun,” the drummer says. Although the studio was the first place where the quartet came together as a unit, Cyrille had links to each of the musicians. He previously recorded with Frisell in a session led by Danish guitarist Jakob Bro, and the drummer has recorded three albums with Street and another Dane, pianist Søren Kjaergaard. With Teitelbaum – who was born in the same year as Cyrille – the drummer has had an association in concert and on record since the 1970s, both in Europe and the U.S.

 

“It’s always exciting to collaborate with world-class musicians and that’s what these guys are,” Cyrille says. “Take the first track on the album, ‘Coltrane Time’ – that’s a rhythm that I learned from Rashied Ali, who learned it from Coltrane himself, of course. I love that rhythm, and I’m doing my own variation on it. The guys in this quartet were listening to me play it, and then as we started playing together, the four of us were really listening to each other – and enjoying it. That’s the way you make music.”

 

About what inspired him to put together this lineup, Cyrille adds: “I dig Bill’s lyricism, his rhythmic sense and that signature sound of his – it’s as unique as his signature. Ben has got great ears, and I like his sound. Besides that, he’s just so congenial to be around – he loves playing music. And not too many people play the synthesizer like Richard. We’ve always been able to complement each other, finding a place in each other’s sound. I wanted this album to be a true quartet project, where each of us had a piece of the record, in every sense. I wanted everyone to contribute music, everyone to give of themselves.”

 

The New York Times has called Cyrille an “avant-garde eminence,” praising his bone-deep knowledge of not only vintage jazz drumming but also pan-African rhythms – and noting how his “watchful, flowing pulse” has influenced so many of today’s most artful drummers. Reflecting on the way he goes about making music, Cyrille says: “Having started as a boy playing in the drum-and-bugle corps and later learning from greats like Max Roach and Mary Lou Williams and Philly Joe and Cecil, I’ve come to realize that the more you know, the more you have to say. I’ve been all over the world by now and played with so many different people that I’ve learned more and more about how to communicate with the drums. And that’s what it is all about: communication. Communing on a spiritual level in the studio or on the bandstand, no matter where the musicians come from, what they look like, what language they speak. It’s all about what you hear and feel. For this new ECM album – with tunes like “Sanctuary,” “Manfred,” all of them – we were doing a whole lot of listening and feeling.”

 

 

ECM

 

Jakob Bro

Streams

 

Jakob Bro: guitar

Thomas Morgan: double bass

Joey Baron: drums

 

U.S. Release date: September  23, 2016

 

ECM 2499                       

B0025525-02

UPC: 6025 478 1865 2                                                

 

There is no hurry to this music, but there is great depth. Absence is as powerful as presence for Bro; each phrase is perfectly plucked from the ether.

                                                                                          Jon Carvell, London Jazz News

 

On his second leader album for ECM – following on from the acclaimed Gefion - Danish guitarist Jakob Bro continues to refine his trio project, with its emphases on melody, sound, space, layered textures and interaction. The rapport between Bro and bassist Thomas Morgan (Bro calls him “my musical soul mate”) has become something extraordinary, as guitarist and bassist develop improvisational ideas in the moment. There’s an historical aptness, too, in the choice of Joey Baron as the band’s new drummer, for Bro first encountered Morgan when the bassist was playing in Baron’s band a decade ago.

 

“I’ve always seen music as a whole,” says Jakob Bro, “not as an outlet for me to display guitaristic things. It’s important for me that everybody in the group has an equal responsibility in the making of the music. We’ve played a lot now, and the pieces keep changing. I enjoy setting up moods and textures for us to work on, and to explore together, but I don’t insist on any specific directions. I have no fixed expectations of where the trio music should go, and I want Joey and Thomas to trust their ears and pursue the directions it seems to be suggesting. For me this is the most exciting aspect of the project. I love playing with this band, because new things are happening in the music all the time. The music wants to go in its own direction. It’s our job to follow it. In a way, that’s what the album title, Streams, is indicating.”

 

Streams was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in November 2015, and produced by Manfred Eicher. The recording features five new Bro pieces: “Opal”, “Full Moon Europa”, “Shell Pink”, “Sisimiut”, and “Heroines” which is heard in both a trio version and a touching solo version. “Gefion had also included a solo guitar piece, so we were continuing that tradition. I hadn’t prepared a solo arrangement: the idea came up in the studio. Manfred said ‘Just play the melody, then stop.’ So I followed his advice. “

 

The open group improvisation, “PM Dream” is dedicated to the late Paul Motian. Jakob’s approach to melody in general acknowledges the influence of Motian, and both Bro and Morgan played at different times in Paul’s ensembles.

 

“‘PM Dream’ was a very spontaneous piece,” Bro recalls. “We basically made the album in one day. At one point we were discussing whether to go into the control room and listen to some takes and Joey said, ‘It feels so good to play right now, let’s keep going and see what we get.’ It really felt like a dream space to be in, and ‘PM Dream’ came out of that.’”

 

Throughout Streams, Joey Baron dives into the music’s detail with obvious pleasure. He takes over, in the trio, from another drumming great, Jon Christensen, who played on Gefion. (Jakob Bro’s association with Christensen, meanwhile, now continues in a new project with trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg; an ECM album is due in 2017). Bro has a lot of praise for both drummers. “Jon’s approach in the trio could be very unpredictable, extreme and mysterious and I loved that. But the creative way in which Joey plays opens up more room for me somehow, and as a group we’ve been working more on ideas based around different time feelings as well as steady pulses.”

 

Streams is issued on the eve of a major tour by the Bro-Morgan-Baron trio with dates in Denmark, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Belgium, Poland, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Ukraine and South Korea. The work continues in 2017, with a US concert in January and a further round of European dates in February and March.

 

 

ECM

 

 

Guidi/Petrella/Sclavis/Cleaver

Ida Lupino

 

Giovanni Guidi: piano

Gianluca Petrella: trombone

Louis Sclavis: clarinet, bass clarinet

Gerald Cleaver: drums

 

U.S. Release date: September 16, 2016

ECM 2462    

B0025527-02

UPC:  6025 478 5476 6     

                       

Ida Lupino is a fresh and creative album, distinguished by deep listening and focused interaction. At its center is the remarkable improvisational rapport of two Italian musicians – pianist Giovanni Guidi and trombonist Gianluca Petrella. Their musical understanding – already apparent to listeners who heard them in Enrico Rava’s band – has been further refined in a widely-travelled duo which seeks encounters with fellow improvisers. “Our duo work is really defined by our collaboration with other artists,” Guidi says. The present album both builds on established relationships and the stimulus of new encounters as they are joined by – in Petrella’s words – “two masters of contemporary jazz who are really on our wavelength”.

 

For this recording, Manfred Eicher brought Guidi and Petrella together with US drummer Gerald Cleaver and French clarinettist Louis Sclavis, for a set of music by turns introspective and outgoing. The Italians had played previously with Cleaver, on an early Guidi album called We Don’t Live Here Anymore, but Sclavis had never met the other musicians prior to the session at Lugano’s Stelio Molo RSI auditorium. “It’s very precious this kind of musical relationship,” Louis Sclavis says, “on the one hand, it’s very fragile but at the same time there is a strong connection between the players. We are four people for one music, and we don’t know where we’re going, but we control the journey.”

 

“In this album we are searching for many different things,” says Giovanni Guidi. “Improvised music has to be very democratic. At the same time, one of its components should be a sense of wonder. And the more you have a strong idea, at the concept level, the more you know you must not impose it…”

 

Gerald Cleaver: “I liked the completely open way Giovanni and Gianluca approached this: not telling me what they wanted, but having some sort of underlying plan, and what I had to do was basically surrender to it. That could have been difficult, but it ended up being a really enjoyable ride.”

 

The emphasis is on lyrical group improvising and tunes by the players, created in the moment or otherwise. There are a couple of exceptions: “Per i morti di Reggio Emilia (To the Dead of Reggio Emilia)” is a protest song penned by Turin folk singer-songwriter Fausto Amodei. And the title track, “Ida Lupino”, does double duty as a salute to composer Carla Bley in her 80th year (Petrella once played in a big band under Carla’s direction) and as a tribute to the late, great Paul Bley, who popularized the tune and influenced so many improvisers – not least Giovanni Guidi.

 

“I find the music we played to be above all very sincere,” says Guidi. “It is an exact photograph of where our individual journeys have brought us, and what we were able to create together. And it wouldn’t have been possible without Manfred, who is in a way the fifth musician – hearing every note, every sound, every detail…” The album was recorded and mixed in three days, in time-honored ECM tradition. “When we listen to what we’ve played, we’re left a little speechless, because there are so many subtleties that transform the whole quality of the music.”

 

Guidi, born in Foligno, was encouraged in his musical directions by Enrico Rava at summer master classes in Siena, and subsequently played on the Rava albums On The Dance Floor and Tribe. His previous ECM albums include City of Broken Dreams and This is the Day, featuring his trio with Thomas Morgan and João Lobo. Gianluca Petrella, born in Bari, plays on four ECM albums with Enrico Rava: Easy Living, The Words and the Days, Tribe and Wild Dance. The two of them, Guidi and Petrella, are frequently instanced by critics as key figures in a new “golden age” for Italian jazz.

 

Louis Sclavis, from Lyon, has made ten albums as a leader for ECM since 1993, the most recent being Silk and Salt Melodies and Sources, released respectively in 2014 and 2012. Where previous recordings have stressed his originality as conceptualist and jazz composer, Ida Lupino emphasizes his capacity as quick-thinking melodic improviser.

 

Detroit-born Gerald Cleaver, one of the very finest drummers of the present moment, made his ECM debut in 1997 as a member of Roscoe Mitchell’s Note Factory on Nine To Get Ready and has since appeared on the label as a member of Tomasz Stanko’s New York Quartet, the Michael Formanek Quartet and the Craig Taborn Trio. The most recent release featuring Cleaver is Miroslav Vitous’s Music of Weather Report.

 

 

 

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Sopranos: Jaanika Kuusik, Jaanika Kilgi, Anna Mazurtšak, Eve Kopli-Scheiber/ Altos: Kadri Hunt, Miina Pärn / Tenors: Mikk Dede, Anto Õnnis, Sander Pehk, Kuldar Schüts, Erik Salumäe, Endrik Üksvärav, Mikk Üleoja / Basses: Tõnis Kaumann, Taniel Kirikal, Ott Kask, Aare Külama / Jaan-Eik Tulve: artistic director and conductor

Mari Poll: violin / Johanna Vahermägi: viola / Heikko Remmel, Taavo Remmel: double bass / Robert Staak: lute / Toomas Vavilov: clarinet / Susanne Doll: organ

The second ECM New Series album to fully showcase the pure-toned Estonian vocal group Vox Clamantis is devoted to compositions by their great countryman, Arvo Pärt – whose music has been the most performed globally of any living composer over the past five years. Two premiere recordings appear with classic a cappella works and rarely recorded material including three pieces with instrumental accompaniment.

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HAMAYASIAN TOP-rev6

Atmosphères

Tigran Hamasyan/Arve Henriksen/Eivind Aarset/Jan Bang

This far-reaching double album, recorded and mixed in three days in Lugano, introduces a new quartet with Tigran Hamasyan, Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang. The Norwegians had played in diverse configurations on ECM - Jan Bang on Eivind Aarset’s Dream Logic, for instance, and Bang and Aarset on Arve Henriksen’s Cartography - but with Hamasyan at the center of the sound, bringing with him ancient folk melodies transfigured in the compositions of Komitas, other inspirations come into play. All four players are at a creative peak here, whether freely reflecting upon Armenian themes or spontaneously shaping atmospheric soundscapes together.

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ECM 2430

Andrew Cyrille drums, percussion | Bill Frisell guitar | Richard Teitelbaum synthesizer, piano | Ben Street double-bass

The great avant-jazz drummer Andrew Cyrille – whose associations have ranged from a long, vintage collaboration with Cecil Taylor to co-leading current all-star collective Trio 3 with Oliver Lake and Reggie Workman – makes his ECM leader debut with The Declaration of Musical Independence. Featuring a quartet with guitar luminary Bill Frisell, keyboardist Richard Teitelbaum and bassist Ben Street, the album kicks off with an artfully oblique interpretation of John Coltrane’s “Coltrane Time,” led by Cyrille’s solo drum intro. The disc then features a sequence of sonically arresting originals, including Street’s luminous “Say…” and Frisell’s deeply felt “Kaddish” and “Song for Andrew,” with Frisell’s guitar alternately cutting and billowing, the edge evoking some of his most illustrious past ECM performances. There are three atmospheric spontaneous compositions by the band – including the dynamic soundscape “Dazzling (Perchordally Yours)” - that highlight Cyrille’s individual sense of percussive drama. Cyrille appeared on classic ECM and WATT LPs by the likes of Marion Brown, Carla Bley and the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, but this album puts a deserved spotlight on an icon of jazz drumming.

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Jakob Bro guitar | Thomas Morgan double bass | Joey Baron drums

On his second leader album for ECM – following on from the prizewinning Gefion - Danish guitarist Jakob Bro continues to refine his trio project, with its emphases on melody, sound, space, layered textures and interaction. The rapport between Bro and Thomas Morgan (Bro calls him “my musical soul mate”) has become something extraordinary, and often guitarist and bassist develop improvisational ideas in parallel. There’s an historical aptness, too, in the choice of Joey Baron as the band’s new drummer, for Bro first encountered Morgan when the bassist was playing in Baron’s band a decade ago… On Streams Joey Baron dives into the music’s detail with obvious pleasure. This recording features five new Bro pieces: “Opal”, “Full Moon Europa”, “Shell Pink”, “Sisimiut” and “Heroines” (heard in both a trio version and a particularly lovely solo version). Completing the album’s repertoire is the freely improvised “PM Dream”, dedicated to the late Paul Motian. Jakob’s approach to melody acknowledges the influence of Motian, and both Bro and Morgan played in the late drummer’s ensembles. Streams was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in November 2015 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

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Giovanni Guidi piano | Gianluca Petrella trombone | Louis Sclavis clarinet, bass clarinet | Gerald Cleaver drums

Pianist Giovanni Guidi and trombonist Gianluca Petrella, key figures in what some are hailing as a “golden age” of Italian jazz, found their strong improvisational rapport inside Enrico Rava’s band (see for instance the 2010 ECM album Tribe) and, keen to play more, formed the duo Soupstar, giving many concerts in which they are intermittently joined by guests. For this studio recording, producer Manfred Eicher brought the dynamic duo together with US drummer Gerald Cleaver and French clarinetist Louis Sclavis, for an outgoing set of music which includes lyrical free improvising and tunes composed by Giovanni and Gianluca. The piece called “Gato!” tips the hat to Mr Barbieri, and title track “Ida Lupino” serves double duty as a salute to composer Carla Bley in her 80th year (Petrella once played in a big band under Carla’s direction) and as a tribute to Paul Bley, who popularized the tune and influenced so many improvisers (not least Giovanni Guidi).

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NEW-REL BANNRrev
Seim - Rumi Songs

Tora Augestad vocal / Trygve Seim saxophones Frode Haltli accordion / Svante Henryson violoncello

Norwegian saxophonist Trygve Seim sets the mystical poetry of Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), one of the wisest thinkers of the ages, using the inspired contemporary English-language versions of Coleman Barks as his source texts. Trygve responds both to the musicality of Barks’s translations and to Rumi’s gifts as a storyteller and with Rumi Songs seems to have invented a new kind of Lieder with a Nordic-Oriental orientation. Tora Augestad is a highly experienced classical mezzo-soprano, who has recently been performing Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with members of the Oslo Philharmonic. She finds a more intimate tone to convey Rumi’s thoughts, which are underlined by the elegant arrangements for sax, accordion and cello.

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Iro Haarla piano, harp / Hayden Powell trumpet / Trygve Seim soprano & tenor saxophones
Ulf Krokfors double bass / Mika Kallio drums & percussion
Norrlands Operans Symfoniorkester / Jukka Iisakkila, conductor

Ante Lucem, a powerful suite for jazz quintet and symphony orchestra by Finnish pianist/harpist/composer Iro Haarla, was premiered at the Umeå Jazz Festival in October 2012. It was recorded at the Concert Hall of NorrlandsOperan in Umeå, and the album is drawn both from the premiere concert and from sessions on the following days. Ante Lucem is comprised of four separate yet closely linked pieces which reflect in different ways, the composer says, upon the “struggle between darkness and light.” In a review of the premiere for Allaboutjazz, John Kelman observed that “Haarla’s writing moved from maelstrom-like turbulence to deeper melancholy … Whether it was more dramatic turns with the full orchestra or breakdowns into smaller subsets, it was an evocative and provocative performance.”

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Haltli - Air

Frode Haltli accordion / Trondheim Soloists / Arditti Quartet (Irvine Arditti, Ashot Sarkissjan violin / Ralf Ehlers viola Lucas Fels violoncello)

The innovative Norwegian accordionist Frode Haltli is heard here with chamber orchestra, with string quartet and solo, performing music written for him by Danish composers Bent Sørensen and Hans Abrahamsen. Sørensen, he notes, has been an influence on his development as a player, challenging perceptions of what can be achieved on the accordion through tone control and nuances in soft dynamics, a subject explored in detail on It is Pain Flowing Down Softly on a White Wall, where Haltli is heard with the Trondheim Soloists. Hans Abrahamsen’s Three Little Nocturnes find the accordionist in the company of the redoubtable Arditti Quartet. For the title composition Air, Hans Abrahamsen returned, at Frode Haltli’s suggestion, to the early solo work Canzona, reworking until it became a new piece “characterized by a great sense of peace and a cohesive form”.

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I love Cyrille - one of my 2 fave living drummers - and am delighted that he is getting an opportunity to reach a potential new audience via ECM.  That said, I look at this lineup and am a little disappointed.

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“To hear composers take my work and take it seriously …
it’s a thrill.”
Stephen Sondheim

US concert pianist Anthony de Mare pays tribute to Stephen Sondheim in a fascinating project. De Mare invited composers from a broad variety of genres – from Sondheim’s own world of musical theater to jazz, classical, pop, film and beyond – to “re-imagine” a Sondheim song of their choice as a solo piano piece. Contributing re-composers included Steve Reich, Wynton Marsalis, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Fred Hersch, Ethan Iverson, William Bolcom, Duncan Sheik, Nico Muhly, Eve Beglarian, Gabriel Kahane, Thomas Newman, Jake Heggie, and more - in total, 36 composers, ranging in age from 30 – 75 and representing seven countries and 29 Grammy, Pulitzer, Tony, Academy and Emmy Awards!

“Each of the composers is having a conversation with Mr. Sondheim,” Anthony de Mare told the New York Times, “with his material but also his influence, his musical wit and his craft.”

PRESS REACTION

“Breathtaking… It’s thrilling to hear just how much material there is in a Sondheim creation for another composer to seize on… many of the composers give de Mare plenty of opportunities for virtuoso showing off – which he grabs with gusto. The whole undertaking is a triumph.”
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

“Stephen Sondheim, the undisputed master of the American music theater, enjoys plaudits from Broadway babies and classical connoisseurs alike. The indefatigable pianist Anthony De Mare does him deserved honor with this project in which an impressive collection of composers were commissioned to write “answer” pieces to Sondheim’s songs”
Russell Platt, The New Yorker

“A fascinating and ambitious project… (The songs’ ) essence remains, but in most cases they sound utterly new, allowing the listener to reconsider the originals in previously unimaginable ways.” – Peter Margasak, The Chicago Reader

“The result is a brand new world-class piano repertory that reveals Sondheim’s influence across multiple genres, generations and continents, making the case for him as one of the 20th century’s greatest composers.” – Broadwayworld.com

“An astonishing three-CD recording that explores, distorts, and honors…”
Jesse Green, New York Magazine

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Wolfgang Muthspiel guitar, Ambrose Akinmusire trumpet, Brad Mehldau piano,
Larry Grenadier double-bass, Brian Blade drums

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 long-time colleagues, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Brian Blade. All About Jazz declared the album “sublime,” while JazzTimes praised its “rapt atmospheres,” calling Driftwood “haunting.” For his follow-up – Rising Grace – the Austrian guitarist has convened a very special quintet, adding jazz luminary Brad Mehldau on piano and a star among young trumpeters, Ambrose Akinmusire, to the subtly virtuosic Grenadier/Blade rhythm section. Muthspiel moves between electric guitar and classically tinged acoustic six-string, his playing by turns grooving (“Boogaloo”) and enchanting (“Rising Grace”). The lyrical flights of Akinmusire’s trumpet and the probing improvisations of Mehldau run through Muthspiel’s rich set of compositions like golden threads, the tracks including a warm tribute to a late, great ECM artist, Kenny Wheeler (“Den Wheeler, Den Kenny”). Rising Grace also includes a deeply melodious piece that Mehldau composed especially for the album, “Wolfgang’s Waltz.”

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Steve Reich has been described by The Guardian as one of “a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history" and as “the greatest musical thinker of our time” by The New Yorker. Reich celebrates his 80th birthday on October 3, and The ECM Recordings brings together the landmark albums Music for 18 Musicians, Music for a Large Ensemble/Violin Phase/Octet and Tehillim in a limited edition set to mark the occasion. Originally released in 1978, 1980 and 1982, each of these recordings had a decisive influence which continues to reverberate across musical idioms.
The 3-CD box set includes a 44-page booklet with original liner notes by Steve Reich, a new essay by Paul Griffiths, and session photography by Deborah Feingold and Barbara Klemm.

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Kim Kashkashian viola / Lera Auerbach piano

Armenian-American violist Kim Kashkashian, one of the major musical voices of ECM New Series, introduces a new duo with Russian composer-pianist Lera Auerbach. Their first recording together features Auerbach’s viola and piano version of Dmitri Shostakovich’s often playful 24 Preludes op. 34, and Auerbach’s own, darker, sonata for viola and piano, Arcanum. Lera Auerbach says, "Arcanum means ‘mysterious knowledge’, and I was fascinated by the inner voice within each of us, some may call it perhaps intuition, some may call it guided meditation, but there is some knowledge that we have, which we may not necessarily verbalize or rationalize, but that allows us to see the truth, to be guided, to seek answers.” Auerbach wrote her sonata for Kashkashian: “There is a quality of life-or-death-intensity to her performing, which is rare and wonderful.”

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vox

Sopranos: Jaanika Kuusik, Jaanika Kilgi, Anna Mazurtšak, Eve Kopli-Scheiber / Altos: Kadri Hunt, Miina Pärn / Tenors: Mikk Dede, Anto Õnnis, Sander Pehk, Kuldar Schüts, Erik Salumäe, Endrik Üksvärav, Mikk Üleoja / Basses: Tõnis Kaumann, Taniel Kirikal, Ott Kask, Aare Külama / Jaan-Eik Tulve artistic director and conductor
Mari Poll: violin / Johanna Vahermägi: viola / Heikko Remmel, Taavo Remmel: double bass / Robert Staak: lute / Toomas Vavilov: clarinet / Susanne Doll: organ

The second ECM New Series album to fully showcase pure-toned Estonian vocal group Vox Clamantis is devoted to compositions by their great countryman, Arvo Pärt – whose music has been the most performed globally of any living composer over the past five years. This album – titled The Deer’s Cry after its first track, an incantatory work for a cappella mixed choir – is also the latest in an illustrious line of ECM New Series releases to feature Pärt’s compositions, the very music that inspired Manfred Eicher to establish the New Series imprint in 1984. Along with such classic works as Da pacem Domine, the new album includes first-time recordings of the a cappella pieces Drei Hirtenkinder aus Fátima and Habitare Fratres. There is also an a cappella version of Alleluia-Tropus, which Vox Clamantis previously recorded alongside instruments for the acclaimed New Series album Adam’s Lament. Rarely recorded material makes up nearly half of this new release, including three pieces with instrumental accompaniment: Von Angesicht zu Angesicht, Sei gelobt, du Baum and Veni Creator.

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Carolin Widmann violin / The Chamber Orchestra of Europe

Violinist Carolin Widmann brings together the last major orchestral works of two German composers: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s Violin Concerto op 64, celebrated from the outset as a masterpiece, and Robert Schumann’s Violin Concerto WoO 23, which had to wait for so many years to find due recognition as one of the greatest compositions of the Romantic era. Widmann leads the widely-acclaimed Chamber Orchestra of Europe in these inspired performances, recorded at Baden Baden’s Festspielhaus. Her earlier ECM recording, in 2007, of the Schumann violin sonatas received the highest international praise, including a Gramophone Award nomination and each of her releases since then – with music from Schubert to Morton Feldman, Xenakis and Tüür – has emphasized her resourcefulness. In 2013 she was named Artist of the Year at the International Classical Music Awards.

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Wolfgang Muthspiel guitar, Ambrose Akinmusire trumpet, Brad Mehldau piano,
Larry Grenadier double-bass, Brian Blade drums

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 long-time colleagues, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Brian Blade. All About Jazz declared the album “sublime,” while JazzTimes praised its “rapt atmospheres,” calling Driftwood “haunting.” For his follow-up – Rising Grace – the Austrian guitarist has convened a very special quintet, adding jazz luminary Brad Mehldau on piano and a star among young trumpeters, Ambrose Akinmusire, to the subtly virtuosic Grenadier/Blade rhythm section. Muthspiel moves between electric guitar and classically tinged acoustic six-string, his playing by turns grooving (“Boogaloo”) and enchanting (“Rising Grace”). The lyrical flights of Akinmusire’s trumpet and the probing improvisations of Mehldau run through Muthspiel’s rich set of compositions like golden threads, the tracks including a warm tribute to a late, great ECM artist, Kenny Wheeler (“Den Wheeler, Den Kenny”). Rising Grace also includes a deeply melodious piece that Mehldau composed especially for the album, “Wolfgang’s Waltz.”

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BOX SETS FROM ECM FOR THE HOLIDAYS

 

GetFileAttachment?id=AQMkADAwATE2MjgxLTgKeith Jarrett 4-CD box - A Multitude of Angels (11/18)

A Multitude of Angels is a 4-CD set of recordings from a series of solo concerts in Italy in October 1996, documenting the conclusion of Keith Jarrett’s experiments with long-form improvisation in performances from Modena, Ferrara, Turin, and Genoa. “These were the last concerts I played having no breaks within each set,” Jarrett explains in his liner notes.  The arc of the music is characteristically comprehensive: “Jazz is ever present here, alongside my deep closeness with classical music (modern and ancient, Ives and Bach).”

 

 

 

 

 

 

GetFileAttachment?id=AQMkADAwATE2MjgxLTgAndrás Schiff  - Beethoven Piano Sonatas (12/2)

This specially-priced 11 CD edition contains the complete piano sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven, recorded live in concert at the Tonhalle in Zürich. It also includes encores from these concerts with works by Schubert, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Bach, as well as an extensive booklet, which re-collects all original conversations around the sonatas, and adds an insightful new text by András Schiff reflecting upon the “Encores after Beethoven”.

“Beethoven sonata cycles are occasions, but they don’t always make history.  This one did…. The recordings are luminous.  Although they were recorded live in Zurich, Switzerland, they reveal a kind of preserved freshness.  An ideal piano dances in imaginary space. Everything in Beethoven can be heard, savored, adored.  I recommend them without qualification.” - Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

 

 

GetFileAttachment?id=AQMkADAwATE2MjgxLTgSteve Reich - The ECM Recordings (9/30)

Steve Reich has been described by The Guardian as one of “a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history" and as “the greatest musical thinker of our time” by The New YorkerReich celebrates his 80th birthday on October 3, and The ECM Recordings brings together the landmark albums Music for 18 Musicians, Music for a Large Ensemble/Violin Phase/Octet and Tehillim in a limited edition set to mark the occasion. Originally released in 1978, 1980 and 1982, each of these recordings had a decisive influence which continues to reverberate across musical idioms. 

The 3-CD box set includes a 44-page booklet with original liner notes by Steve Reich, a new essay by Paul Griffiths, and session photography by Deborah Feingold and Barbara Klemm.    

 

 

GetFileAttachment?id=AQMkADAwATE2MjgxLTgPeter Erskine Trio - As It Was (7/22)

The most recent addition to ECM’s popular Old and New Masters Series is a box set reprising the four albums made by Peter Erskine’s American-British-Swedish trio with John Taylor and Palle Danielsson between 1992 and 1997: You Never Know, As It Is, Time Being and Juni. If its core concept – a piano trio led by a drummer – was unorthodox, the group was nonetheless influential, and the recordings provide an excellent environment for appreciating the distinctive writing and playing of John Taylor. The British pianist was the Erskine Trio’s primary composer, with the drummer-leader and bassist Danielsson also contributing pieces and the repertoire topped up with tunes by Vince Mendoza and Kenny Wheeler. Erskine says, "We drew out our most explorative and interesting playing from each other. Without trying to be, we were a truly unique group. I’ve heard nothing like it before or since.”

ECM

 

Wolfgang Muthspiel

Rising Grace

 

Wolfgang Muthspiel: guitar

Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet

Brad Mehldau: piano

Larry Grenadier: double-bass

Brian Blade: drums

Release date: October 28, 2016

ECM 2515

B0025729-02

UPC:  6025 479 7962 9                             

 

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. The Guardian extolled the album’s “ethereal, reflective and textural qualities,” while JazzTimes praised its “rapt atmospheres,” calling Driftwood “haunting.” For his poetic follow-up – Rising Grace – the Austrian guitarist has convened a very special quintet, adding jazz luminary Brad Mehldau on piano and a star among young trumpeters, Ambrose Akinmusire, to the subtly virtuosic Grenadier/Blade rhythm section.

 

            Characteristically, Muthspiel moves between electric guitar and classically tinged acoustic six-string on Rising Grace, his playing by turns grooving (“Boogaloo”) and enchanting (“Rising Grace”). The lyrical flights of Akinmusire’s trumpet and the probing improvisations of Mehldau run through Muthspiel’s rich set of compositions like golden threads, the tracks including a warm tribute to a late, great ECM artist, Kenny Wheeler (“Den Wheeler, Den Kenny”). The album also includes an intricate, deeply melodious piece that Mehldau composed especially for the sessions, “Wolfgang’s Waltz.”

 

            Muthspiel, who was born in 1965 in Judenberg, Austria, made his first ECM appearance on 2013’s Travel Guide as a member of a cooperative trio with fellow guitarists Ralph Towner and Slava Grigoryan. Muthspiel, Mehldau and company recorded Rising Grace with producer Manfred Eicher in the South of France, the studio atmosphere free-flowing and “harmonious,” the guitarist says. “We all set up in one room, a kind of living-room vibe. There was a beautiful concentration – deep listening, not much talking, only a few takes, just dealing with the notes and what they create. It became almost effortless after awhile, a kind of magic. At some point in the recording, the idea of everybody taking solos disappeared. The music became this web between us. This wasn’t planned; it’s just that everyone likes that mode of making music. This comes out especially in a track like ‘Intensive Care.’ It’s a constant conversation.”

 

            Each of the musicians on Rising Grace has a sound on his respective instrument that’s as identifiable as a fingerprint. “You only need to hear one chord of Brad’s to recognize the depth of his music, just the touch,” the guitarist says. “And Brian Blade is famous for his sound –from how he tunes his drum set, his floating way of playing, the way he makes the kit not a collection of separate drums and cymbals but this single warm, organic vessel.” The same distinctive soundprint applies to Muthspiel, of course, whether with the warm, sustaining lines of his electric guitar or, especially, the almost piano-like sound he gets from his acoustic.

 

            Mehldau – one of the most lauded pianists of the past quarter-century – has made previous ECM appearances on albums by Lee Konitz and Charles Lloyd. Rising Grace marks the first time he has worked with Muthspiel. “Starting with my time living in New York, from ’95 to 2002, I listened to Brad a lot,” the guitarist says, “but to play with him was amazing – he really listens, reacting to the music in the most subtle ways. There’s a beautiful moment on the new record, on ‘Intensive Care,’ where Ambrose plays a very ‘out’ note; instead of changing the whole chord to fit that note, Brad just put that note into his voicing, very softly. Again, he has this subtle mastery, hearing everything but with something ego-less about his playing. His comping also blows me away. He’s waiting for you to make your statement, supporting with whatever he plays – but he never finishes it for you, leaving the door open for your next sentence.”

 

            Akinmusire exploded on the scene while still in his early twenties, winning the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and playing alongside the likes of Steve Coleman and Jack DeJohnette. Muthspiel’s writing elicits a fresh lyricism in Akinmusire’s playing, a kind of cool fire. “Ambrose is an incredible new force in music, a great voice,” the guitarist says. “There’s a fearlessness in his playing, a big joy in taking risks. He will respect the playground of my tunes while always stretching the confinement of the composition, an interesting adventure for me. He always knows the chords and correct notes, but he also likes to play other notes, to create a tension between them and the original harmonies. There are also magical contributions by him that are pure sound and gesture, not even related to pitches or certain scales: whispering, breathing, a high scream, beyond anything you can analyze, really.”

 

            Driftwood was the first album to feature Muthspiel together with both Grenadier and Blade, although the guitarist had worked with each of them separately for many years. Muthspiel first played alongside Grenadier in Gary Burton’s band in the mid-’90s, with their subsequent work together including the trio Drumfree with saxophonist Andy Scherrer. Along with being a longtime member of the Brad Mehldau Trio, Grenadier has worked in the cooperative trio Fly (with saxophonist Mark Turner and drummer Jeff Ballard), which has made two albums for ECM. The bassist has also played on ECM albums by Charles Lloyd, Enrico Rava and Chris Potter. Blade has been a member of the Wayne Shorter Quartet since 2000 and leads his own Fellowship Band, along with having played with artists from Herbie Hancock to Bob Dylan. Muthspiel has known the drummer since the late ’90s, with the two eventually working in a trio with bassist Marc Johnson. Muthspiel and Blade have also toured and recorded together as a rare guitar-drums duo, Friendly Travelers.

            “To play with Brian Blade is a gift,” Muthspiel says. “He seems never to have a preconceived notion of how the music should be. He is always developing in the moment – which is what we jazz musicians long for. He creates intensity with relatively low volume, and he gets the vibe of the music immediately, or even puts it in another place that you had never imagined.” As for Grenadier, Muthspiel says: “Larry has an intense sound, present even when he plays few notes. It’s a high art to play simply. He anchors the music while leaving space for things to happen. When you play with both Larry and Brian, there’s a complete, relaxed focus from the first second to the last note. They make it very easy to get into the sound.”

 

            A particular Muthspiel ideal – beyond casting a spell with sound – is the subtle storytelling of music, even without words. “I think these compositions tell a story that isn’t a straight-ahead jazz story,” he says. “I always like the writing to have the quality of a song, something that you might remember and sing along to. I think everyone in the group shares this love of songs – we all dig people like Joni Mitchell, the Beatles, Radiohead. Because of that, we take a certain care to make sure a sense of song comes out of a piece of music, before you mess with it. And even when you do mess with it, you care for song’s being, its color.”

 

            One particular story of Rising Grace stems from the homage “Den Wheeler, Den Kenny,” which translates to “this Wheeler I know.” Muthspiel explains: “This refers mostly to the album Kenny did for ECM in the mid-’70s with Keith Jarrett, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, Gnu High. That was a big record for me growing up, and the memory of it was like a shining star over making this new album. There’s a standard of composing that is very personal with Kenny, and he had a fluid, even liquid way of improvising that’s different from classic jazz trumpet playing. Most important, there’s an incredible interplay on Gnu High, creating the kind of web that I mentioned before. This sort of web effect was another ideal for me while making this record.”

 

            There are other subtle stories within Rising Grace, with the titles of several pieces referring to a new arrival in the Muthspiel household. “A few months before we recorded the album, my first daughter was born,” he says. “This influenced both my writing and my playing. When you have a child, you realize that there’s clearly something more important than you in the room. For me, that reinforced another ideal, that the music in the room is always more important than you.”

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ECM NEW SERIES

 

 

 

Meredith Monk

On Behalf of Nature

 

Meredith Monk & Ensemble

Sidney Chen, Ellen Fisher, Katie Geissinger, Meredith Monk, Bruce Rameker,

Allison Sniffin: voices

Bohdan Hilash: woodwinds

John Hollenbeck: percussion

Allison Sniffin: piano, keyboard, violin, French horn

Laura Sherman: harp

 

U.S. Release date: November 4, 2016
 

ECM New Series 2473
B0025808-02
UPC: 289 481 2794 8

For six decades, vocalist-composer Meredith Monk has explored what she calls “primordial utterance,” or non-verbal vocal sound that lay beneath and beyond language, expressing “that for which we have no words.” This exploration has led her to create music that The New Yorker describes as simultaneously “visceral and ethereal, raw and rapt,” an art that “sings, dances and meditates on timeless forces.” With her latest, multivalent ECM New Series album, Monk aimed to address ecology and climate change, she says: “Believing that music speaks more directly than words, I worked to make a piece with a fluid, perceptual field that could expand awareness of what we are in danger of losing. On Behalf of Nature is a meditation on our intimate connection to nature, its inner structures, the fragility of its ecology and our interdependence.”           

To that end, voices and instruments have equal weight across On Behalf of Nature: sometimes each is heard alone; sometimes they are blended to form a new, mysterious sound; sometimes they are combined to create intricate, layered, yet transparent sonic landscapes. The winds of Bohdan Hilash and violin of Allison Sniffin rustle and sing by turns, as the tuned percussion of John Hollenbeck plays a melodic as well as rhythmic role. The six singers (including Monk) offer melodious, harmonic and hocketing lines, murmurs, chants and keens as they communicate in a language beyond words. There is a sequence of pieces for voices alone (“Environs”), while the luminous minimalism of “Eon” is for instruments only. “Water/Sky Rant” is a feature for Monk’s solo voice, with rippling harp among the accompaniment. But most of the album’s 19 pieces meld singing and playing in a tapestry of sound.
           

Praising Monk’s 2011 ECM album Songs of Ascension, for voices and strings, the Los Angeles Times critic Mark Swed wrote: “Monk’s most significant growth over the past decade or two has been as a composer. She is a great master of utterance… A listener feels somehow in communication with another, perhaps wiser, species.”

Discussing her compositional process for On Behalf of Nature in her liner essay for the album, Monk says:

As I began working on the music for On Behalf of Nature, I asked myself the question: “How would one make an ecological art work, one that didn’t make more waste in the world?” What came to mind was the French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss and his notion of bricolage: the process of assembling or making something from what is already at hand. In pre-industrial societies, one object could function in many different ways by an act of imagination. We now speak of this process as re-purposing. Part of my process as a composer includes creating music notebooks that function like journals. Within them, I write themes, fragments and phrases that are not ready to be made into complete forms. They are like seeds, filled with potential, waiting for the right moment to sprout. While I began by composing new pieces for On Behalf of Nature, at a certain point, I decided to play through fragments and phrases in a few of my notebooks to see if anything resonated with what I was now exploring. I then built new forms from that raw material. It was gratifying to see that the time that had elapsed between the original impulses and the present served to shed light upon and enrich the original ideas. The notion of spiraling around to the past to make something completely new is also a way of appreciating what is here in the present and working with what we have.

For Monk, On Behalf of Nature conjures “multiple realms including the celestial, human, microscopic, animal, plant and mineral, as well as the underlying processes and rhythms of nature,” she explains. “The overall structure is an arch with some of the themes from the beginning reoccurring near the end but in a varied or modified form. The last two pieces serve as an extended coda suggesting the continuity and resiliency of the natural world.”

Meredith Monk

“I work in between the cracks, where the voice starts dancing, where the body starts singing, where the theater becomes cinema,” Meredith Monk once said. “I try to never forget that I enjoy the privilege of engaging in an activity that affirms the spirit of inquiry and allows me to make an offering of what I have found. I am grateful for being part of music, for the magic of music permeating my life."

An artistic visionary, Monk invented something new with her vocal innovations, and her fusion of sound and movement is as daring now as it was when she made her professional debut in 1964. Performers of her compositions include not only her own longstanding Vocal Ensemble but also the San Francisco Symphony & Chorus, Kronos Quartet and Bang On A Can All-Stars, among others. Her reach also extends beyond the classical world, influencing such musicians as Björk, John Zorn and DJ Spooky.

Monk’s music has been heard in many high-profile films, including Nouvelle Vague and Histoire(s) du Cinéma by Jean-Luc Godard (with soundtracks to both released on ECM New Series), The Big Lebowski by the Coen Bros. and her own Book of Days. She has been recording for ECM since 1981. Her ECM debut, Dolmen Music, won a Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik. Monk’s subsequent ECM discography includes Turtle Dreams (1983), Do You Be (1987), Book of Days (1990), Facing North (1992), ATLAS: An Opera in Three Parts (1993), Volcano Songs (1997), mercy (2002), the © Grammy-nominated impermanence (2008), Songs of Ascension (2011) and Piano Songs (2014).

In its 2012 guide to Monk’s music, The Guardian said: “Monk's is a music of connection, a bringing together of many different art forms and experiences… The result is music that is at once deeply personal and unlike anything anyone else is doing, but which speaks simply and directly to those collective parts of our subconscious that are the deepest and oldest. At its best, Monk's music sounds like a folk music for the whole world.”

 

 
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Abercrombie - Timeless
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John Abercrombie guitar | Jan Hammer organ, synthesizer, piano | Jack DeJohnette drums

Originally released in 1974.
“He displays a singular blend of intellect and emotion. Timeless, Abercrombie’s first date as a leader, is an impressive showcase of these facets, and of his never-before-revealed abilities as a composer/arranger. Jan Hammer and Jack DeJohnette are all the help he needs.”
- Downbeat

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Egberto Gismonti - Danca Das Cabecas
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Egbert Gismonti: 8-String Guitar, Piano, Wood Flutes, Voice | Nana Vasconcelos Percussion, Berimbau, Corpo, Voice

Originally released in 1976
“Gismonti and Vasconcelos might be Brazilian but you don’t need a passport to enter their musical world. Once inside, they guide you gently, and the trip is rarely less than revelatory. If you have an interest in music – as opposed to fashion – then Gismonti will floor you with the devastating purity and endless depth of his sound. Without doubt, this is one of the albums of the year.”
–Melody Maker

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Wheeler - Deer Wan
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Kenny Wheeler trumpet, flugelhorn | Jan Garbarek tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone | John Abercrombie electric guitar, electric mandolin | Dave Holland double bass | Jack DeJohnette drums | Ralph Towner 12-string guitar

Originally released in 1977.
“Wheeler emerges a romanticist in the grand heroic mode. His compositions and trumpeting suggest an Olympian majesty. There is a grace and eloquence, as well as a purity of sound and purpose.”
– Downbeat

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Terje Rypdal electric guitar, RMI keyboard computer, ARP synthesizer | Palle Mikkelborg trumpet, flugelhorn, RMI, tac piano, ringmodulator | Sveinung Hovensjø 6-String electric bass, 4-string electric bass | Jon Christensen drums, percussion

Originally released in 1977.
“Rypdal’s new album is a series of sonic excursions ranging from the expressionist to the impressionist and with few concessions to conformity. Rypdal’s guitar and Palle Mikkelborg’s trumpet are well-matched with Manfred Eicher’s typically superb production putting it all in focus.”
– Record World

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Gary-Peacock---Voice-From-The-Past
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Gary Peacock bass | Jan Garbarek tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone | Tomasz Stanko trumpet | Jack DeJohnette drums

Originally released in 1981.
“This is a record with much to recommend it. Peacock, as ever, is sublime and the perpetual motion of DeJohnette’s drumming maintains a superb tension. The broad toned Stanko skirts the niceties and finds something of consequence to say every time he walks to the wicket but, surprisingly, it is Garbarek’s many solid innings that are the backbone of the whole thing.”
– Jazz Journal

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ECM

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David Virelles - Antenna

Vinyl and digital release date: November 18th

 

The music of Cuban-born, Brooklyn-based pianist David Virelles conjures a hallucinatory world in which ancient Afro-Cuban rhythms and ritual reverberate in the here and now. His latest ECM offering is Antenna, music attuned to a timeless rhythmic-cultural current even as it pulses with a vibrantly urban, modernist energy. Antenna – a six-track, 22-minute EP released exclusively on vinyl and digitally – sees Virelles channel Afro-Cuban percussion into an electro-acoustic, almost psychedelic swirl, one that melds jazz improvisation and organic grooves with digital refraction, shadowy synthesizers, otherworldly field recordings and Cuban street poetry. Antenna is an undulating, throbbing, dizzying dream of sound.

 

Mbòkó, Virelles’s ECM leader debut from 2014, featured in Best Of The Year lists in The New York Times, NPR, iTunes and The Village Voice, among others. The Guardian described it as “a jazz-infused world-music project beyond categories,” adding: “Virelles looks set to make big differences in contemporary music for years to come.”

 

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Boros---Local-Objects

Zsófia Boros guitar
The second album from the Hungarian-born Vienna-based guitarist finds her embracing a broad scope of music, broader even than on her outstanding debut En otra parte. This time the range extends from contemporary composition to jazz etude via music from Brazil, Argentina, Italy and Azerbaijan - all embraced with imagination and creative flair. Pieces played here by Zsófia Boros include Egberto Gismonti’s challenging “Celebração de Núpcias” (made famous on Dança das cabeças), Franghiz Ali-Zadeh’s “Fantasie”, Al Di Meola’s “Vertigo Shadow”, and Carlo Domeniconi’s Turkish-influenced “Koyunbaba”. These Local Objects are rendered universal by Boros’s subtle and sensitive playing in an album recorded at Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo in November 2015 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

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Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble
Sidney Chen, Ellen Fisher, Katie Geissinger, Meredith Monk, Bruce Rameker, Allison Sniffin: voices; Bohdan Hilash: woodwinds; John Hollenbeck: percussion Allison Sniffin: piano, keyboard, violin, French horn; Laura Sherman: harp

For five decades, vocalist-composer Meredith Monk has explored what she calls “primordial utterance,” or non-verbal vocal sound that lay beneath and beyond language, expressing “that for which we have no words.” This exploration has led her to create music that The New Yorker describes as simultaneously “visceral and ethereal, raw and rapt,” an art that “sings, dances and meditates on timeless forces.” With her latest, multivalent ECM New Series album, Monk aimed to address ecology and climate change, she says: “Believing that music speaks more directly than words, I worked to make a piece with a fluid, perceptual field that could expand awareness of what we are in danger of losing. On Behalf of Nature is a meditation on our intimate connection to nature, its inner structures, the fragility of its ecology and our interdependence.” Voices and instruments have equal weight: sometimes each is heard alone; sometimes they are blended to form a new, mysterious sound; sometimes they are combined to create intricate, layered, yet transparent sonic landscapes.

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The Crossing
PRISM Saxophone Quartet
Donald Nally, conductor

The music of English composer Gavin Bryars has long managed the distinction of being both “accessible and defiantly personal” (The New York Times). A deep yet unsentimental emotional resonance and a patient, contemplative view of time – whether relating to harmonic rhythm or human experience – are complementary characteristics that run through his instrumental, vocal and theatrical catalog like a red thread, the composer inspired by disparate spirits from Wagner and Satie to Cage and Silvestrov. The ECM New Series released multiple recordings of Bryars’ music in the 1980s and early ’90s, including the classic albums After the Requiem and Vita Nova. The first full ECM album from Bryars in decades is The Fifth Century, which includes the seven-part title work: a slowly evolving – yet immediately involving – setting of words by 17th-century English mystic Thomas Traherne, performed by the mixed choir of The Crossing with saxophone quartet PRISM. The album also features Two Love Songs, luminous a cappella settings of Petrarch for the women of The Crossing. The music within words, the humanity in breath, the sense of eternity within a moment or of a moment in eternity – all are at play in Bryars’ latest music.

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Keith Jarrett

A Multitude of Angels

 

Keith Jarrett: piano

 

U.S. Release date:  November 18, 2016

ECM 2500-03              

B0025828-02

CD 6025 570 2466 1                                           

 

 

A Multitude of Angels is a four-disc set of recordings from a series of solo concerts in Italy in October 1996, documenting four nights of performances from Modena, Ferrara, Turin, and Genoa.

 

These discs fit into the chronology of Jarrett’s many live solo recordings after 1995’s La Scala. A Multitude of Angels marks the end of the first period of the solo concerts, documented on ECM recordings from the Bremen-Lausanne set to Sun Bear Concerts, an era in which Jarrett’s spontaneously developmental, free-flowing music could lead the receptive improviser to many different places.

 

“Jazz is ever present here,” says Jarrett of the music on A Multitude of Angels, “alongside my deep closeness with classical music (modern and ancient, Ives and Bach)…” The continuous arc of music from each of the Italian concerts is comprehensive: “I could feel the energy as spiritual, but sometimes I was in a Baptist church, sometimes in a mosque; or in Ireland, Spain or Africa…Of course, none of this was going through my mind at all as I played, because I was playing as though it was the last time.” In terms of performance format, it was to prove a ‘last time’ of sorts, a conclusion of the pianist’s experiments with long-form improvisation. As he explains in his liner notes, “These were the last concerts I played having no breaks within each set.”

 

After these concerts, two years would elapse before Jarrett played in public again. At home, he recorded the solo The Melody At Night With You in 1997, a meditation on pure melody, and returned to the stage with his “Standards” trio with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette at the end of 1998. Solo concerts were slowly reintegrated into his itinerary – see 2002’s Radiance, for instance – by which point the format itself had changed, with the sets now sequences of improvised “pieces”.

 

So the music A Multitude of Angels closes a chapter. Of the early solo concerts Keith Jarrett once said, “When I play pure improvisation, any kind of intellectual or emotional handles are inappropriate to just letting the river flow.” The recordings – including the present one, captured by Jarrett himself on a DAT machine – allow performer and listener to re-enter the river. “I can only hope you can have the extraordinary experience I had upon re-discovery of this music,” says Jarrett.

 

 

ECM

 

 

David Virelles

Antenna

 

David Virelles: acoustic piano, Hammond B3 organ, Roland JUNO-6, Vermona electric piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, prepared piano, programming, samples

Alexander Overington: electronics, samples, cello

Henry Threadgill: alto saxophone

Román Díaz: vocals 

Marcus Gilmore: drums, electronic percussion

Rafiq Bhatia: guitar 

Etián Brebaje Man: vocals

Mauricio Herrera: percussion

Los Seres: percussion*

*a fictional percussion ensemble, created and programmed by David Virelles

 

Release date: November 18, 2016

 

ECM 3901

B0025611-01

UPC: 6025 571 0440 0

 

The music of Cuban-born, Brooklyn-based pianist David Virelles conjures a hallucinatory world in which ancient Afro-Cuban rhythms and ritual reverberate in the here and now. His latest ECM offering is Antenna, music attuned to a timeless rhythmic-cultural current even as it pulses with a vibrantly urban, modernist energy. A six-track, 22-minute EP released exclusively on vinyl and digitally, Antenna sees Virelles channel Afro-Cuban percussion into an electro-acoustic, almost psychedelic swirl, one that melds jazz improvisation and organic grooves with digital refraction, shadowy synthesizers, otherworldly field recordings and even Cuban street poetry. Antenna is an undulating, throbbing, dizzying dream of sound.

 

Virelles’ ECM leader debut from 2014, Mbòkó, scored high on Best Of The Year lists for The New York Times, NPR, iTunes and The Village Voice, among others. The Guardian described Mbòkó as “a jazz-infused world-music project beyond categories,” adding: “Virelles looks set to make big differences in contemporary music for years to come.” The pianist was born in 1983 and bred in Santiago de Cuba, moving to Canada in 2001 and to New York City in 2009. His studies included private lessons in composition with the great jazz composer-saxophonist-flutist Henry Threadgill, who adds his alto to the teeming sonic brew of Antenna. Prior to the release of Mbòkó, Virelles appeared as a sideman on two ECM albums: Tomasz Stanko’s double-disc Wisława and Chris Potter’s The Sirens, both from 2013. Reviewing a Virelles headlining concert later at the Village Vanguard, Ben Ratliff of The New York Times described the pianist as having “a sure touch and multiple musical vocabularies, of which he seems determined to create a synthesis that isn’t schematic or obvious.”

 

About Antenna, Virelles says: “This album is unlike any that I’ve made before – the music would have been impossible to create in the usual way, with this level of sonic experimentation. I wanted the music to have the sound and feel of traditional Afro-Cuban rhythms, but generated and deconstructed electronically, so that I could make new, very different music out of those elements. I spent a lot of time trying to make my electronic percussion sound as natural as possible, yet Marcus Gilmore’s drums and cymbals were sampled so that he could not only play his drum kit but also generate some grooves digitally, still using his own sound. We added ambient noise in the background of the opening and closing percussion pieces I programmed, to make them sound like field recordings – a sonic atmosphere I like. I’m proud of the otherworldly aspect of those tracks.”

 

The album title, Antenna, reflects the music’s ancient-meets-modern blend, Virelles explains: “There’s a very old idea of human beings, or any living organism, functioning as antennas for a higher order of intelligence and purpose – our bodies being conduits for the manifestation of that energy in the physical world.” The irresistible track “Rumbakuá” – with its tapestry of Cuban vocals and traditional rhythms voiced with an urban phrasing and feel – evokes the channeling of Afro-Cuban culture down through the generations. “It’s about how the culture survived dislocation and colonization, remaining a beacon for people,” Virelles says. “The words – in Spanish as well as African dialects that survived in Cuba – reference music, poetry, religion, divination, herbology. They’re also an invitation to rejoice, as these are things that give us an identity and a path even when people lack the material essentials.”

 

On “El Titán de Bronce” Virelles improvises across an atmospherically off-kilter electro-acoustic groove. “Water, Bird-Headed Mistress” features Threadgill’s distinctive alto saxophone threaded through an electronic eddy of textured sound, designed in league with co-producer Alexander Overington. “I’m obsessed with sound, being able to tell stories with it,” Virelles says. “To me, the means aren’t as important as the ends when it comes to music. Whether I’m using the piano or a synth and samples, I’m always trying to tell stories with sound. And there’s no doubt that the experience of working with electronics has opened me up to new concepts rhythmically, expanding my range as a composer and a musician.”

 

Reflecting on the communicative role of rhythm in ancient cultures, Virelles points out how “master drummers were revered in those societies. Their role went beyond music: They served as storytellers and spiritual guides. Different kinds of rhythms communicated different messages, and these rhythms are related to our physical experience as we’ve evolved over thousands of years. I suspect that’s why, even in contemporary Western culture where we don’t have an equivalent notion to the master drummer, we still respond viscerally to the sound of drums. In creating Antenna, I imagined those age-old rhythms being played by a futuristic drum ensemble – one that I ended up calling Los Seres, even though those sounds were programmed by me. I tried to translate a timeless rhythmic aesthetic to electronic instruments, as well as experiment with rendering a modern vocabulary via traditional drums. I wanted this music to underscore the commonality between past and present.”

 

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ECM Artists at 2017 Winter Jazzfest:

January 07 NIK BÄRTSCH'S MOBILE
Winter Jazz Fest, The New School,Tishman Auditorium
New York City
USA
 
 
 
January 07 BILL FRISELL
Winter Jazz Fest, The New School,Tishman Auditorium
New York City
USA
 
 
 
January 07 DAVID VIRELLES
Winter Jazz Fest, The New School,Tishman Auditorium
New York City
USA
 
 
 
January 07 TOMASZ STANKO NEW YORK QUARTET
Winter Jazz Fest, The New School,Tishman Auditorium
New York City
USA
 
 
 
January 07 JAKOB BRO / THOMAS MORGAN / JOEY BARON
Winter Jazz Fest, The New School,Tishman Auditorium
New York City
USA

 

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The Crossing | PRISM Saxophone Quartet | Donald Nally, conductor

The music of English composer Gavin Bryars has long managed the distinction of being both “accessible and defiantly personal” (The New York Times). A deep yet unsentimental emotional resonance and a patient, contemplative view of time – whether relating to harmonic rhythm or human experience – are complementary characteristics that run through his instrumental, vocal and theatrical catalog like a red thread, the composer inspired by disparate spirits from Wagner and Satie to Cage and Silvestrov. The first full ECM album from Bryars in decades is The Fifth Century, which includes the seven-part title work: a slowly evolving – yet immediately involving – setting of words by 17th-century English mystic Thomas Traherne, performed by the mixed choir of The Crossing with saxophone quartet PRISM. The album also features Two Love Songs, luminous a cappella settings of Petrarch for the women of The Crossing.

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ECM

 

 

John Abercrombie Quartet

Up and Coming

 

John Abercrombie: guitar

Marc Copland: piano

Drew Gress: double-bass

Joey Baron: drums

U.S. Release date: January 13,  2017

 

ECM 2528                                                    

B0026115-02

UPC: 6025 572 3377

 

Guitarist John Abercrombie returns with a second album by his quartet featuring like-minded piano foil Marc Copland, along with longtime rhythm partners Drew Gress and Joey Baron. Extolling 39 Steps, the group’s 2013 album, the Financial Times said: “The emphasis is on subtle intrigue, flowing lyricism and the interplay between the leader’s warm, cleanly articulated guitar and Copland’s piano… with bassist Gress and drummer Baron equally supple and sinewy companions.” The same virtues of lyrical melody and harmonic/rhythmic subtlety are apparent with Up and Coming, though with even more emphasis on the enduring values of song. Abercrombie’s liquid phrasing and glowing tone animate his five originals and a pair by Copland, as well as a take on the exotic-sounding Miles Davis classic “Nardis” done in the spirit of Bill Evans. Up and Coming has a twilight atmosphere, with melodic flow the guiding light.

 

As they did for 39 Steps, the kindred-spirit foursome convened for Up and Coming at Avatar Studios in New York City with producer Manfred Eicher. Befitting the free-flowing, lambent mood of such highlights as “Joy” and “Sunday School,” the sessions were especially relaxed and congenial, with “not only a lot of playing but also a lot of listening going on,” Abercrombie says. “As players, we’ve all known each other such a long time. Also, Manfred and I have worked closely together in the studio for so long – since 1974 – that we don’t have to say too much, we can just do what we do, using a kind of shorthand. He adds a lot to the music, of course, because he really cares. That the end product is very important to him goes without saying, but that level of thoughtful dedication over all these years is so rare.”

 

Abercrombie’s connection to Copland goes back even further than the guitarist’s ECM connection, back to when they were both playing in Chico Hamilton’s band in the early ’70s. “Marc was still playing the alto sax when we met – he hadn’t yet decided to concentrate on the piano,” the guitarist recalls. “As players, we’ve always related. I respond to his touch at the piano – it’s smooth and blends with my sound, fluid rather than percussive. He floats over bar lines and abstracts things, while still respecting the form. And his key influences – Bill Evans, Paul Bley – are right up my alley. He also never plays just what I write on the page, in that he expands the tune, making it better, adding ‘Copland-isms,’ things that I love but would never think of myself.” Abercrombie and Copland have worked extensively as a duo over the years, underscoring their compatibility. The two musicians now live not far from each other in New York’s Hudson River Valley. Noting that the pianist wrote the dark-hued “Tears” and fetching, funky “Silver Circle” for Up and Coming, the guitarist says: “Marc is an interesting composer, who writes differently than I do – it’s always a nice contrast. His writing is more classically oriented in a way, polychordal without being dense.”

 

Abercrombie met Baron in the late ’70s, when the younger musician subbed for the regular drummer on one of the guitarist’s gigs at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, California. Abercrombie says, “Joey has always been able to swing his ass off, whether he was playing with Carmen McRae or John Zorn.” Gress first partnered with Baron for Abercrombie in the quartet that recorded the guitarist’s 2012 ECM album Within a Song, with saxophonist Joe Lovano. “Joey and Drew are just so good together, with this loose but rhythmically accurate way of playing,” Abercrombie says. “And with Joey holding it down – he’s our anchor – Drew can take risks, as he likes to do.”

 

This band’s penchant for form contrasts with Abercrombie’s more free-minded quartet with violinist Mark Feldman that made four ECM albums from 2000 to 2009 (with Baron also a member of that group). “It’s a bit more natural to play free with just one harmonic instrument in a band,” the guitarist explains. “With both guitar and piano, there’s inevitably more emphasis on harmony. That said, we like to play the form but keep it a bit open, do something with it. There’s an elastic quality to this band’s playing, nothing is ever too on-the-nose – and that’s the way I’ve always liked things.”

 

Sometimes, though, being open to simplicity can pay dividends, as Abercrombie explains: “On the last album, 39 Steps, we played a sort of deconstructed version of ‘Melancholy Baby,’ and I thought we might do something similar with ‘Nardis.’ But Manfred had the bright idea of ‘why don’t you just play the tune.’ We do start off freely, with no tempo, but then it morphs into a tempo and becomes more straightforward. A lot like the Bill Evans record of the tune, it has a flow to it but also clarity – you can hear the changes. But that’s the thing with this band: We can play complex and a bit more free, or we can play more or less straight and simple.”

 

The key sonic signature of Up and Coming, of course, is Abercrombie’s guitar playing, the style of which has evolved over the years. The mellow, almost autumnal sound he has been getting over the past decade and a half can be traced to him no longer playing with a pick, preferring to strike the strings with his thumb. The fluidity of his phrasing – always there – has only become more pronounced, with his tone warmer and more limpid than ever, allied to a characteristically incisive improvisational sense. “I play less fast than I used to, less ‘technical’,” he says. “But I actually think it’s more musical now. My playing is also more to the point, with melodic lines clearer. The softer attack suits this music, which has a more meditative quality at times. I’ve been doing this long enough that I just follow my muse, do what feels right.”

 

***

 

Born in 1944 in Port Chester, New York, Abercrombie grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, where he began playing the guitar at age 14. He started out imitating Chuck Berry licks, but the bluesy sound of Barney Kessel soon attracted him to jazz. After graduation from Boston's Berklee College of Music he went to New York, where he quickly became one of the city’s most in-demand session players and recorded with Gil Evans and Gato Barbieri, among others. Abercrombie’s first ECM session as a leader was Timeless, recorded in 1974 with Jack DeJohnette and Jan Hammer. The next year, the guitarist recorded the first of several albums with the dynamic trio Gateway, a cooperative also featuring DeJohnette and Dave Holland.

 

At the end of the ’70s, Abercrombie formed his first quartet (with Richie Beirach, George Mraz and Peter Donald), recording three albums with the band for ECM that saw the guitarist move away from the sound of jazz-rock toward more spacious, impressionistic music. That body of work was reissued in 2015 via a boxed set titled The First Quartet in the label’s Old & New Masters series. The Guardian noted that the reissue exemplified some of Abercrombie’s signature merits, including his “expressive lyricism.” The guitarist has played on more than 50 ECM sessions, not only as a leader but as a highly creative contributor to recordings led by DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, Enrico Rava, Jan Garbarek and Charles Lloyd, among many others.

 

 

ECM Receives Two Grammy Nominations

 

Two ECM albums – one jazz, one classical, both produced by Manfred Eicher - were recognized this morning when the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.

 

GetFileAttachment?id=AQMkADAwATE2MjgxLTgSaxophonist Ravi Coltrane is nominated for Best Improvised Jazz Solo for his stunning sopranino playing on the title track of In Movement, recorded with drummer/bandleader Jack DeJohnette and bassist Matthew Garrison.  The trio’s album references modern jazz history even as it looks ahead. “It’s a continuation,” says Jack DeJohnette, “a moving of our music forward – music that’s not locked into any one genre. I haven’t heard any combination like this. There’s the past and the present and the future in what we’re doing.”

 

 

 

GetFileAttachment?id=AQMkADAwATE2MjgxLTgIn the category Best Classical Compendium, conductor Tõnu Kaljuste and producer Manfred Eicher  are nominated for the New Series album Gesualdo, an imaginatively-conceived disc revolving around the music, life and times of Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa. The disc brings together contemporary composition by Erkki Sven Tüür and  Brett Dean inspired by Gesualdo, as well as new arrangements and re-orchestrations of Gesualdo’s music, powerfully performed by the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra.

 

 

 

Theo Bleckmann

Elegy

 

Theo Bleckmann: voice

Shai Maestro: piano

Ben Monder: guitar

Chris Tordini: double-bass

John Hollenbeck: drums

U.S. Release date: January 27, 2017

ECM 2512                                                                  

B0026148-02

UPC: 6025 479 9717 3

 

 

Theo Bleckmann Quintet on tour:

 

February 7                New York, NY          Jazz Standard

February 9                Santa Cruz, CA       Kuumbwa
February 10             Arcata, CA                Redwood Jazz Alliance,
February 11&12      Denver, CO              Dazzle
February 13             Los Angeles, CA     EDYE

 

Mr. Bleckmann knows his way around a dreamscape. A vocalist of inventive instinct and assiduous musicality, he’s never more secure than when in reverie, plumbing depths at once familiar and strange...

                                                                                                Nate Chinen, New York Times

 

Beyond being a vocalist of rare purity and daring, Theo Bleckmann is a sound painter who creates what JazzTimes has described aptly as “luminous webs” in music. The German-born New Yorker – after appearing on two ECM albums by Meredith Monk and on another by pianist Julia Hülsmann of Kurt Weill songs – makes his striking label debut as a leader with Elegy. This album showcases Bleckmann as a composer as much as a singer, with several instrumental pieces voiced by what he calls his “ambient” band of kindred-spirit guitarist Ben Monder, keyboardist Shai Maestro and the subtle rhythm team of Chris Tordini and John Hollenbeck. Highlights include Bleckmann’s sublime rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s “Comedy Tonight” (“tragedy tomorrow… comedy tonight”), as well as the mellifluous vocalise of “Little Elegy” and achingly poetic song “To Be Shown to Monks at a Certain Temple.”

 

“This record is called Elegy for a reason – each of its songs relates to death or transcendence in some existential way,” Bleckmann explains. “Several of the pieces are instrumental, with ‘Cortege’ a funeral march. In the song ‘Take My Life,’ I imagine what it would be like to die, losing facility bit by bit: losing your voice, your heartbeat, your breath. I wrote that one thinking about Bach and his cantatas, especially ‘Ich habe genug,’ which is about joyfully going into the afterlife. For this album, I wanted to create songs that deal with this subject matter not in a morbid way but with some light to it.”

 

Reflecting on his inclusion of the Sondheim song, Bleckmann says: “In its original version, ‘Comedy Tonight’ is upbeat and fun. I arranged it more atmospherically in memoriam for my mother, who recently passed away. She was a woman who was funny and always looking for things to make her laugh. I think that’s why she made it to 91 – she would find humor even in things that weren’t necessarily funny. Half the time, I wouldn’t laugh, but she would be giggling. I think that's an incredible trait.” Regarding “To Be Shown to Monks at a Certain Temple,” Bleckmann notes its thematic significance: “The lyrics come from a Zen poem that I set to music. It’s about not giving up. Don’t think about death, just keep on moving. Don’t be morose, keep on living.”

 

Bleckmann and company recorded Elegy at New York City’s Avatar Studios with producer Manfred Eicher, who helped shape the album. “Manfred had the great suggestion of using some of my written material as the basis for short free improvs,” Bleckmann recalls. “That’s how the instrumentals ‘Semblance,’ ‘Cortege’ and ‘Alate’ came about. We created these little interstitial islands to connect some of the songs. I often conducted them in the studio because there was so much space in these pieces.

 

“The sonic character of the band is very ambient,” Bleckmann adds. “I wanted a group of musicians who weren’t hell-bent on soloing all the time – I wanted that space and a lot of collective playing. The piano, with Shai, is the centerpiece of the orchestration, taking the lead role harmonically and sometimes even rhythmically. Ben and John, on guitar and drums, encompass the envelope around that, marking a lot of the sonic space. Chris, on bass, delineates harmonic change within that.” Maestro and Tordini are newer musical friends for Bleckmann, but his creative relationships with Monder and Hollenbeck stretch back two decades, with the three musicians contributing to each other’s projects regularly over the years. Bleckmann and Monder, in particular, have performed extensively as a duo.

 

“Ben is a very intense musician,” Bleckmann says. “He plays with such concentration that it can be mesmerizing. He’s someone who creates his universe through his sound, which is like that of no other guitarist. I’m really into sound – and that’s true for everyone in the band. Shai and Chris have their own, beautiful sounds on their instruments, while John – as such a great composer himself – explores sonic possibilities at the drums like no other drummer I know.”

 

The overall tone and tenor of Elegy – floating yet substantive, reflecting on serious emotions but with a lightness of touch – reflects Bleckmann’s thoughts on the inevitability of the life cycle, the sublimity of our life’s punctuation. He says: “From the very first piece, ‘Semblance,’ I wanted the tonality of this music to have something of that radiance, that light, I felt with my mother at the end.”

 

 

Theo Bleckmann

Known primarily in the jazz world, Bleckmann is actually one of the finest, most creative singers today – no genre tags needed.                                Dennis Cook, Dirty Impound.com

 

Possessing stunning range, startling clarity and an adventurous spirit, Theo Bleckmann has become one of the most inventive and creative vocalists in modern music...

                                                                                                            Shaun Brady, Jazziz

 

 

Bleckmann’s first appearance in a jazz context for ECM was his featured role on pianist Julia Hülsmann’s exploratory 2015 album A Clear Midnight – Kurt Weill and America, which The Guardian called “one of the great jazz treatments of the songs of Kurt Weill,” singling out Bleckmann’s vocal “eloquence.” Prior to that, he appeared as a member of the Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble on the albums mercy (2002) and impermanence (2007).

 

Since 1989, Bleckmann has been a resident of New York, where his early champions included jazz vocal great Sheila Jordan. He has sung everything from songs by Charles Ives and Kate Bush to Las Vegas standards and Shakespearean sonnets, collaborating with figures from Laurie Anderson to John Zorn.

 

 

 

 

ECM

 

Colin Vallon Trio

Danse

 

Colin Vallon: piano

Patrice Moret: double bass

Julian Sartorius: drums

 

U.S. Release: January 27, 2017

ECM 2517    

B0026118-02                       

UPC: 6025 570 9323 0                        

LP UPC: 6025 572 3589 0

 

 

“This is highly original music… Vallon’s project has something to with how we perceive time in music – and music in time. It’s fascinating and accrues more and more interest with repeated listening.”                        Paul De Barros, Downbeat

 

The Colin Vallon Trio has found its own space in the crowded world of the piano trio by quietly challenging its conventions. On its third ECM album Vallon again leads the group not with virtuosic solo display but by patient outlining of melody and establishing of frameworks in which layered group improvising can take place. Reviewing the group’s 2014 release Le Vent,Jazzwise wrote of a “restless stillness” that characterizes the music: “the power of resonantly minimal explorations of texture and atmosphere.”

 

With this group, gentle and insistent rhythms can trigger seismic musical events. Although Vallon (recently nominated for the Swiss Music Prize) is the author of nine of the pieces here, the band members share equal responsibilities for the music’s unfolding. The gravitational pull of Patrice Moret’s bass and the intense detail supplied by Julian Sartorius’s drums and cymbals are crucial to the success of Vallon’s concept and the range of emotions the music can convey. All three of them reflect upon timbre and the changing nature of the ensemble sound in each moment. “I have always been interested in a group developing a collective way of thinking, where there is more than just the egos of the musicians involved,” Colin Vallon told Swiss newspaper Der Bund last year. Danse, recorded in February 2016, was produced by Manfred Eicher at Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, where working in a resonant acoustic space without headphones has also contributed to the quality of deep listening inside the music, and helped it to open up even more.

Colin Vallon (born 1980 in Lausanne) has been leading his own bands since 1999. Patrice Moret (born in Aigle in 1972) joined Vallon’s group in 2004. The third Vallon trio album Rruga, recorded in 2010 and its first for ECM, was immediately greeted by positive press. The musical understanding between Vallon and Moret has been further honed inside Albanian singer Elina Duni’s quartet (see the albums Matinë Malit and Dallëndyshe), another place where improvisation flowers outside jazz’s frame of reference. Vallon has often said that singers have influenced him more than other jazz instrumentalists. Beyond the trio he writes music for diverse ensembles and choreographers. Vallon and Moret play also in saxophonist Nicolas Masson’s group Parallels.

 

In addition to the centering power of his bass, Patrice Moret has contributed striking compositions to the trio repertoire, in this case the kinetic motoric piece “Tinguely”.

 

Julian Sartorius has been drummer with Vallon’s trio for more than four years, joining in time for the recording of Le Vent. Born in Thun in 1981, Sartorius had his first drum lessons at the age of 5, and later studied at the jazz schools of Lucerne and Bern with teachers including Pierre Favre and Norbert Pfammatter. He has collaborated with Matthew Herbert, Shahzad Ismaily, Sylvie Courvoisier, Dimlite, Merz, Fred Frith, Sophie Hunger, Rhys Chatham and many others.

 

Danse is released in CD and vinyl versions and as digital download. Colin Vallon, Patrice Moret and Julian Sartorius launch the album with a run of Swiss concerts including Bern’s Bee-Flat (January 29), Moods, Zürich (February 3), Kulturcinema Arbon (February 10), AMR Genva (Fenruary 11), Riehen (February 14), Nova Jazz, Yverdon (March 4), Cully Jazz Festival (April 1). Additionally the group continues its long-running series of workshop concerts at the Mokka club in Thun, where they play on January 17 and 31, February 28, March 14 and 28 and April 11 and 25. Tour dates in Germany, Austria and Belgium are currently being finalized and will be posted shortly at www.ecmrecords.com and www.colinvallon.com

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2528 copy

John Abercrombie guitar | Marc Copland piano 
Drew Gress double bass | Joey Baron drums

AMAZON-BANNR
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2512

Theo Bleckmann voice | Ben Monder guitar | Shai Maestro piano 
Chris Tordini double bass | John Hollenbeck drums

AMAZON-BANNR
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2517

Colin Vallon piano | Patrice Moret double bass | Julian Sartorius drums

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ECM 2516

Ralph Towner classical and 12-string guitars

AMAZON-BANNR
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ECM 2527

Craig Taborn piano, electronics | Chris Speed tenor saxophone, clarinet 
Chris Lightcap double bass & bass guitar | Dave King drums

AMAZON-BANNR
***
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©2016 ECM | ECM Records | Verve Music Group, 150 5th Ave, 6th floor | New York NY 10011
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The Taborn and the Bleckmann look really good.

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3 hours ago, xybert said:

The Taborn and the Bleckmann look really good.

Esp. the Taborn.

I don't quite get Bleckmann. :ph34r::alien:

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