GA Russell

ECM Press Releases for New Items

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ECM

 

Ralph Towner

My Foolish Heart

 

Ralph Towner: classical and 12-string guitars

 

U.S. Release date: February 3, 2017

ECM 2516

B0026178-02

UPC: 6025 571 4582 3

 

Ralph Towner solo tour

February 15&16         New York, NY           Jazz Standard

February 18               St. Louis, MI              E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall

February 19th             Chicago, IL               Martyrs

February 20               Portland, OR             The Old Church

February 21               Seattle, WA                Seattle Art Museum

February 23               San Francisco, CA    SFJAZZ (ECM @SF Jazz II)

February 26               Santa Cruz, CA         Kuumbwa Jazz Center

March 2                      La Jolla, CA               Athenaeum

March 3                      Los Angeles, CA       Bluewhale

 

My Foolish Heart is the latest solo album by master guitarist Ralph Towner, recorded at Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in February 2016, and produced by Manfred Eicher. Solo music is an important thread through Towner’s rich discography. Diary was the title he gave to his first ECM solo album back in 1973 and each of his solo albums since then – the list includes Solo Concert, Ana, Anthem, and Time Line - has had a special autobiographical, diary-like character.  The solo music is where one can see most clearly the inspirational strands informing Towner’s music. He alludes to this in the performer’s note introducing the new album, his first solo disc in a decade:

 

“‘My Foolish Heart’, the title song of this album had an immeasurable impact on my musical life, as it did with many of my colleagues in the world of jazz and improvisation. The seminal version, played by Bill Evans, Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian set me on a course to try to attain the magic of this trio in my own attempts to play the piano, and later, on the classical guitar which became my principal instrument. I needed to know how it felt to inhabit such a reverent musical space. So, many years later, I’ve decided to pay a visit to this song and include it among a variety of my own pieces. I hope I’ve continued to use the inspiration I gained from that first encounter in all the music I play.”

 

The challenge, as Towner once spelled it out “was to develop the idea of embracing the interaction of a small group on the guitar itself.” Three lines of influence converged in his work:  Evans’s conception of jazz, Brazilian music – a major inspiration for Towner in the 1960s - and classical guitar. “Over the years I kept on adapting each of these in my own way. I abstracted them and modified them until the sources were no longer recognisable, and I’d arrived almost without noticing it in an idiom of my own.” The Towner idiom was further extended with the 12-string guitar, on which experiments with different tunings led to evocative sonorities and atmospheres.  On the new album, the 12-string is the vehicle for the mysterious “Clarion Call”, as well as the hovering miniature “Biding Time”.     

 

Amongst other striking pieces, “Blue as in Bley”, is a soulful tribute to Paul Bley, who had died a month before the session. Whether on classical guitar or 12-string guitar, Towner’s touch is immediately identifiable. As fellow guitarist Scott Nygaard has noted, “No one else plays guitar like Ralph Towner, And while his compositions often sound ‘classical’ (combining a fondness for Baroque voice leading, Stravinskian harmonies, and odd time signatures with his own strong sense of melody) that’s primarily because each piece grows organically and gracefully from an initial idea.” Towner’s feeling for form has been a consistent strength, as two older compositions - “Shard” and “Rewind”, both from the early repertoire of Oregon – confirm here.

 

A key ECM recording artist for 44 years, Ralph Towner was born into a musical family in Washington in 1940.  He began playing piano at age 5, followed by trumpet two years later.  He launched his jazz career as a Bill Evans-inspired pianist, then travelled to Vienna to study classical guitar with Karl Scheit, the renowned Austrian guitarist, lutenist and teacher. In New York City in the late 1960s, he freelanced on both piano and guitar, before co-founding the band Oregon in 1970, with Collin Walcott, Glenn Moore and Paul McCandless – all of whom would appear on his ECM debut, Trios/Solos, in 1972.  Towner’s recordings for ECM have included solo albums, duo projects (with John Abercrombie, Gary Peacock, Gary Burton and Paolo Fresu), bands under his direction (including Solstice with Jan Garbarek, Eberhard Weber, Jon Christensen) and discs with Oregon. Towner has also contributed to outstanding albums by Keith Jarrett (In The Light), Jan Garbarek (Dis), Kenny Wheeler (Deer Wan) and Egberto Gismonti (Sol do Meio Dia).

 

In the last few years activities have included many concerts with Sardinian trumpeter Paolo Fresu, their album Chiaroscuro garnering much positive press along the way: “Lushly resonant guitar and stately trumpet, a masterful match of color and texture” – The Village Voice. Another important association is guitar trio with Austrian Wolfgang Muthspiel and Kazakhstan-born Australian Slava Grigoryan. “Three guitarists from three different continents with three very different disciplines unite for this breathtakingly beautiful trio outing,” wrote Down Beat of the album Travel Guide.

 

ECM

 

Craig Taborn

Daylight Ghosts

 

Craig Taborn: piano, electronics

Chris Speed: tenor saxophone, clarinet

Chris Lightcap: bass

Dave King: drums

U.S. Release date: February 10, 2017

ECM 2527    

B0026199-02

UPC: 6025 571 3805

 

Taborn_TD_HI_1.png

 

Keyboardist Craig Taborn’s Daylight Ghosts is the Minneapolis-bred New Yorker’s third ECM release as a leader, a quartet album following the solo Avenging Angel and trio disc Chants. Both projects earned wide acclaim, with The Guardian stating that Taborn’s “musicality and his attention to detail are hypnotic, as is his remarkable sense of compositional narrative within an improvised performance.” Along with Taborn on piano and electronic keyboards, the quartet ofDaylight Ghosts includes two other luminaries from the New York scene – reed player Chris Speed and bassist Chris Lightcap – plus drummer Dave King, the leader’s fellow Minnesota native and one-third of alt-jazz trio The Bad Plus. Each player draws from a broad artistic background, as informed by rock, electronica and diverse strains of world music as they are the various permutations of jazz improvisation. Dynamism and spectral ambience, acoustic and electric sounds, groove and lingering melody – all come together to animate Daylight Ghosts.

 

The sonic fluidity of Daylight Ghosts – its dynamic stressing group improvisation over discrete soloing/accompanying roles – is enabled by the long relationships that Taborn has forged with each of the other musicians, who gathered in New York City’s Avatar Studios with producer Manfred Eicher for the sessions. Taborn has been playing music with King since they were teenagers in Minneapolis, the two venturing everything from bebop and free jazz to dance music and metal. Taborn and Lightcap have shared membership in each other’s groups in New York for more than 15 years, while the keyboardist and Speed have been occasional musical confreres for a decade. Speed, King and Lightcap also have their own web of associations.

 

“Because the four of us have a history of commingling and playing a wide variety of music together, these guys were ideal for exploring a sound world of acoustic and electronic instruments in a seamless way, one that didn’t hit too hard on any obvious reference points,” Taborn explains. “Live, this band moves from a quiet, chamber-music space to a raucous, almost rock kind of energy, which Dave and Chris Lightcap really know how to drive. For the recording, I wanted to subtly infuse the chamber-like palette with some of that energy, yet with no hint of fusion. This music trades on transparency. I wanted all the elements to be crystalline, so that the layers of the music work like a prism.”

 

The lone cover tune on Daylight Ghosts reflects another of Taborn’s longtime affiliations. Beyond his recordings as a leader for ECM, Taborn has played on albums for the label by Michael Formanek, David Torn, Evan Parker and Ches Smith. But his first appearances on ECM were via a sequence of albums by AACM pioneer Roscoe Mitchell. Taborn and company reinterpret Mitchell’s “Jamaican Farewell” on Daylight Ghosts, with Speed taking up his dark-hued clarinet to find the melodic heart of this gem of ruminative lyricism. “I’ve always loved this piece, and it has such a beautiful, simple melody that elicits so much in the improvisation,” Taborn says. “And with the introduction of subtle electronics, it really seems to open up a vast world we can explore.”

 

The rest of Daylight Ghosts features eight Taborn originals, snaking and atmospheric by turns.

Highlights include the tune-rich title track, marked by Speed’s Spartan-toned tenor and Taborn’s entrancing piano figures, as well as “Phantom Ratio,” which has Speed’s sax tracing long tones over Taborn’s pealing synth loop and keening electronic buzz.  . “The Great Silence” and “Subtle Living Equations” have a hovering, almost ambient feel. Opening with a guimbre-like Lightcap solo, “Ancient” pulses on a long crescendo of rhythm, while “The Shining One” moves from the get-go, colored by Taborn’s high-energy piano improvisations and King’s skittering percussion.  

 

Reflecting on what his cohorts bring to this music, Taborn says: “Dave has a refined sonic sensibility at the drum kit, particularly in the way he integrates acoustic and electronic percussion. It’s about not having either one dominate; so that when you hear the record, it’s not always apparent what’s an acoustic drum and what’s an electronic drum pad. Chris Lightcap has a concept for both the double-bass and the bass guitar that’s invested in vintage sound quality. He likes flat, roundwound strings on the Fender Precision bass; he likes a dark amp tone; and he likes laying down strong, solid bass lines. We share an affinity for these vintage instrumental sounds while finding new ways of utilizing those sounds expressively.”

 

Chris Speed is “one of my favorite saxophonists,” Taborn adds. “He has an astounding skill set for dealing with complicated music, but his approach is one of patience and consideration. He will always take the direct path, which is so important in music that emphasizes an integrated group sound. It can be a particular challenge with the tenor sax, which is so often a lead instrument. But his playing can both hold its own space and not overwhelm the texture. In that, he reminds me of John Gilmore, who when playing with Sun Ra could state a strong idea simply and then tuck back into the band. And on clarinet, Chris has just a gorgeous sound. It’s important for this band to have both the earthy tone of the tenor and the more lyrical sound of the clarinet. Chris brings both.”

 

Taborn’s ever-involving pianism blends darting leaps with finely graded colorations and hypnotic minimalism. Beyond his virtuosity, he employs multiple keyboards with a compositional aesthetic, the mix of acoustic and electric timbres heightening each other and filling the spectrum with interest. He stresses his fascination with “sonics” in the making of Daylight Ghosts. The album’s electric keyboard sounds subtly reflect his love of the lo-fi mystery heard in transistor organs from ’60s Sun Ra to early Philip Glass, from psychedelic rock to ’60s-’70s music from Ethiopia and Benin. Then there were such subtle, serendipitous passing events as King striking an electric gong with a reverse-attack, white-noise effect, which was highlighted in the mixing process as a telling “micro-detail” within the transparent sound picture.

 

“I really am a sound guy,” Taborn says. “After all, what’s music but a collection of sounds arranged in some evolving narrative. I tend to listen to things loud and with a certain focus so that I can hear as much detail inside of the sound as possible, not just the event or gesture – like here’s a drum fill – but the actual sound of the toms, how long a cymbal rings, the harmonic that arises when the cymbal is hit and that’s picked up by the piano. I live for the details, and there’s a lot of detail on this record. Don’t put it on in the background.”

 

***

 

Born in Detroit in 1970, Craig Taborn first earned international notice as a member of saxophonist James Carter’s ensembles. In the late ’90s, he played regularly with Roscoe Mitchell, along with leading his own groups; and by the next decade, the keyboardist was heard often in Tim Berne’s bands and subsequently with Chris Potter and Dave Holland, among others. Taborn first appeared on ECM as a member of Mitchell’s ensembles for the albums Nine to Get Ready, Composition / Improvisation 1, 2 & 3, and Far Side. He has also appeared on David Torn’s Prezens, Evan Parker’s Boustrophedon and Ches Smith’s The Bell, as well as Michael Formanek’s Small Places and The Rub and Spare Change.

 

In 2011, Taborn made his debut as a leader on ECM with an album of solo piano, Avenging Angel. A review in The New York Times called the album “a brilliant and unpredictable study informed by contemporary classical music as well as several currents of improvisation. It’s a sit-up-and-take-notice statement.” Two years later came the pianist’s next ECM release: Chants, a trio disc with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver. That album’s music was described in DownBeat as being without “borders, or ordinary structures, or typical narrative flow. The songs are positively shimmering, immaculately detailed, prismatic and very improvisational… They flutter and spiral, bend and float, and constantly surprise.”

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I pre-ordered the Taborn.

He's on the cover of the new Down Beat.

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ECM

 

 

 

Benedikt Jahnel Trio

The Invariant

 

Benedikt Jahnel: piano

Antonio Miguel: double bass

Owen Howard: drums

 

U.S. Release date: February 17, 2016

ECM 2523                               

B0026214-02

UPC: 6025 571 2837 6                        

 

The trio with Spanish bassist Antonio Miguel and Canadian drummer Owen Howard has been an “invariant” in the life of Berlin-based pianist Benedikt Jahnel, “a constant in a transformational period” as he puts it, and new album The Invariant is issued as the players reach their tenth anniversary as a working unit.

 

“I like very much interacting with the same group and digging deeper each time into the musical conversation,” Jahnel says. “You have this energetic input and this intense time working together, and then I believe the music develops even when we’re apart. When we come back together I can hear the progression that has taken place in the pieces.” If natural evolution contributes to the music’s growth so do interventions by the pianist-composer, for whom constant revision is part of the creative process: “The version of any given piece that a listener hears on the new album might be the fifth or tenth version. We take the music on the road and then I’ll adjust it, maybe quite dramatically. Even in the studio I will often still adapt pieces, and of course in that process I’m constantly integrating ideas generated from the bass and the drums.” Jahnel is a prolific writer and The Invariant pools the best of the many pieces he has composed in the last five years, incorporating the dynamic responses of his trio partners into the fabric of the material. For the most part this is music carefully shaped for these players; this is its strength and the source of its detail.

 

The Invariant was recorded in Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in April 2016, and produced by Manfred Eicher. Its opening track, “Further Consequences”, picks up where the trio’s critically-lauded album Equilibrium left off, extending ideas about pianistic patterning and textural playing. Like many of Jahnel’s tunes an odd-metred piece, it also contains elements of swing, as the pianist reacts to the implications of Owen Howard’s drumming. “For me this is a departure. I’m more of a straight eighths player. Owen is more strongly rooted in the whole tradition of jazz and the way he approached the tune pulled me, in the solo section, toward the world of swing phrasing…”

 

The feeling of swing permeates also “The Circuit”. Designed by Jahnel to be an easily-breathing tune amid more heavily arranged pieces, it is still modestly unorthodox in its form, with a solo preceding the head of the tune, and a beguiling feature for Antonio Miguel’s bass over gently pulsing piano and brushed drums at the end.

 

“Mirrors”, at nine and a half-minutes the album’s longest tune, is one of several pieces written, as Jahnel says, “from a very pianistic perspective: it has a choral introduction and lives from that choral, harmonic, trichord movement”. A rubato section gives way to stressed rhythm. “There are many parts, it’s quite heavily arranged, and even the ‘free’ section incorporates structures.” In the ballad “Monolake” “moving inner voices in the piano define the piece. I tried to design it in such a way that the harmonic anchors are slightly away from where you expect them to be. “

 

“Part of the Game” has “an odd little melody. The tune is really all about the rhythm, with fantastic drumming from Owen.” Unexpectedly cast into the middle of the program, “For the Encore” was “designed as a textural statement, to even things out.” “Interpolation 1”, one of a series of fragmentary ideas, “opens up a new window, offering another perspective of the trio with more advanced harmony.” Finally, “En Passant”, a soulful ballad with a touching bass solo, brings the album to a peaceful conclusion.

 

In addition to his work with the trio, Benedikt Jahnel plays with – and contributes compositions to – the band Cyminology and is featured on the group’s ECM recordings As Ney, Saburi and Phoenix.

 

A mathematician as well as a musician, Jahnel is a researcher at the Weierstrass-Institut Berlin, with interacting particle systems in the context of probability theory amongst his main interests. While sceptical about parallels between maths and music, he allows that “what mathematics can do really well if you have a practical problem is to make it abstract: get rid of the flesh and try and understand the mechanics of the bones. A detour via abstraction is a powerful tool, and in writing music it can sometimes also be helpful in developing things, especially if the starting point is emotional and intuitive, as it usually is with my pieces.”

 

Benedikt Jahnel studied music at the University of Arts in Berlin – where he first met Owen Howard, who was there as visiting professor – and at City College, New York. In New York Jahnel and Howard reconnected and also met up with Antonio Miguel.

 

In the course of his career, Antonio – born in Zaragoza in Northern Spain – has played with musicians including Paquito D’Rivera, Jerry González, Claudio Roditi, Ben Sidran, Rosario Giuliani, Rick Margitza, Jorge Pardo, Perico Sambeat, Ximo Tébar and Pedro Iturralde in the jazz scene, as well as flamenco artists José Luis Montón, Josemi Carmona, Rocio Marquez and El Negri, and artists like Buika, Paloma Berganza, Carmen Paris, Miguel Rios and Ara Malikian.

 

Owen Howard, born in Edmonton, Canada, but Brooklyn based for many years, is a bandleader in his own right. He has also played with Joe Lovano, Kenny Wheeler, John Abercrombie, Dave Liebman, Kenny Werner, George Garzone, Dave Holland, Sheila Jordan and Tom Harrell, amongst many others.

 

The Benedikt Jahnel Trio begins its tour with dates in Germany in January and February 2017, followed by shows in France in Spain. Concerts in Canada and the US are currently being set up: details soon at www.benejahnel.de and www.ecmrecords.com

ECM

 

François Couturier

Tarkovsky Quartet

Nuit blanche

 

François Couturier: piano

Anja Lechner: violoncello

Jean-Marc Larché: soprano saxophone

Jean-Louis Matinier; accordion

 

U.S. Release date: February 17, 2016

 

ECM 2524

B0026215-02

UPC: 6025 572 9067 7

 

Ingmar Bergman once said of Andrey Tarkovsky, “He moves with such naturalness in the room of dreams,” and the French-German quartet named after the great Russian filmmaker has developed an associative dream-language of its own. For leader and pianist François Couturier the “silence and slowness of Tarkovsky” are closely related to an “ECM aesthetic” further developed on the group’s third album Nuit blanche, produced by Manfred Eicher in Lugano in April 2016. Here pieces variously composed by François Couturier, or created in the moment by Couturier, cellist Anja Lecher, saxophonist Jean-Marc Larché and accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier, explore the texture of dreams and memory and continue to make oblique reference to Tarkovsky. Couturier’s Dakus, for instance, acknowledges a debt to Toru Takemitsu’s 1987 composition Nostalghia, written in memory of the director.  The quartet also incorporates a crepuscular interpretation of Vivaldi’s “Cum dederit delectis suis somnum” from the Nisi Dominus, alluding to a composer Tarkovsky was listening to at the time of Stalker.  Whether playing improvised chamber music, modern composition or baroque music, the creative originality of the Tarkovsky Quartet shines through. 

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Julia Hülsmann Trio

Sooner And Later

release date: March 17th 

Julia Hülsmann: piano / Marc Muellbauer: double bass

Heinrich Köbberling: drums

Berlin-based pianist Julia Hülsmann returns to the trio format for Sooner And Later, an album which distils the experience of journeys to distant destinations. In the last couple of years Hülsmann, bassist Marc Muellbauer and drummer Heinrich Köbberling have taken their music around the world, from Europe to the US, Canada, Peru, Central Asia and China, "where something special developed. It helped to open up new sonic territory for us".

ECM

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If you are in or near NYC - save the date:

 

Dominic Miller in concert 

March 13, 2017

NUBLU

 

 

Dominic Miller - Silent Light

releasing April 7th

Dominic Miller: guitar, electric bass

Miles Bould: percussion, drums

 

Born in Argentina to an American father and Irish mother, guitarist Dominic Miller was raised in the U.S. from age 10 and then educated there and in England. Now he lives in France, though he has toured the globe for the past three decades. Aptly, Silent Light - Miller's ECM debut, featuring him solo and with percussion accompaniment - has a very international feel, with the Latin influence strong in such pieces as "Baden" (dedicated to Brazilian guitarist-composer Baden Powell). "Le Pont" has an early 20th-century Parisian air, while "Valium" evokes Celtic tunes in the vein of Bert Jansch and "Fields of Gold" is a hushed instrumental take on one of Sting's best-known ballads. Miller has long been known as Sting's right-hand man on guitar - and co-writer of the worldwide hit "Shape of My Heart," among others. Miller has also worked with the likes of Paul Simon, The Chieftains and Placido Domingo. The guitarist's playing has prompted praise from Simon, who points out, in a liner note to the album, that Miller "has a beautiful touch, with a fragrance of jazz and English folk."

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ECM

 

Julia Hülsmann Trio
Sooner And Later

 

Julia Hülsmann: piano
Marc Muellbauer: double bass
Heinrich Köbberling: drums

 

U.S. Release date: March 17, 2017

 

ECM 2547       
B0026299-02              
UPC: 6025 572 3858 7
                                           

 

For her sixth ECM album, Sooner and Later, German pianist Julia Hülsmann returns to the trio format heard on End of a Summer (2008) and Imprint (2011). With her acclaimed trio members, bassist Marc Muellbauer and drummer Heinrich Köbberling, still at the core, more recently she has been focused on adding personnel to her recordings such as the quartet heard on In Full View (2013), and the 2015 quintet album A Clear Midnight – Kurt Weill and America which featured singer Theo Bleckmann.

 

Over the last years the trio has also embarked upon extensive travels to distant destinations – among them the US, Canada, Peru, Central Asia and China – during which “something special developed”, says Hulsmann. “When traveling you not only gain new perspectives, but also experience even long standing partners anew. It helped to open up new sonic territory for us”. A notable example is on the track “Biz Joluktuk” where those Central-Asian weeks find their most explicit expression. This is a tune the band heard in performance from a 12 year old violinist in Kyrgyzstan and which was later re-harmonized by Julia.

 

As on their previous albums, all three members of the group have contributed compositions. “Heinrich’s pieces all start, as you would expect from a drummer, on a rhythmic level”, explains Hülsmann, “but then he always surprises me with his very friendly melodies. He infuses very special harmonic colors into our sound.” Whereas Marc Muellbauer’s compositions, as Hülsmann puts it, “are mostly based on quite complex, very clever harmonics – but when you finally play them, they reveal a great clarity and self-evidence.”  And Hülsmann’s own pieces continue to be part of the band’s stage repertoire, “where they could develop and mature in a natural, organic way“, as the leader says.

 

The track entitled  “Thatpujai” is an anagram of the late German jazz pianist “Jutta Hipp” (February 4, 1925 – April 7, 2003), with its theme comprised of phrases from her solos. And the program is rounded out by a cover of Radiohead’s “All I Need” which, like the sometimes almost clubby grooves of Hülsmann-penned tracks “J.J.”, “Soon” or “Mond”,  emphasizes the subtle rhythmic aspects of the trio’s music.

 

Sooner and Later was recorded in September 2016 in Oslo’s Rainbow Studio, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

 

*

 

Julia Hülsmann (born in 1968 in Bonn) began playing piano when she was 11 and formed her first band at the age of 16. In 1991 she moved to Berlin and played in the Bundesjugendjazzorchestra under the direction of Peter Herbolzheimer. After recordings featuring singers Roger Cicero, Rebekka Bakken, and Anna Lauvergnac, she brought her music to ECM. The album End of a Summer, emphasizing the unique character of her trio, marked a new beginning.

 

Bassist Marc Muellbauer (born in London in 1968) also leads his own nine-piece band, Kaleidoscope and founded the Wood & Steel Trio. He has a wide musical background ranging from contemporary classical to tango, as well as jazz with diverse formations. Currently he is also a member of the Lisbeth Quartett. Muellbauer teaches double-bass at the Jazzinstitut Berlin.

 

Drummer Heinrich Köbberling (born in Bad Arolsen/Hessen in 1967) has worked with Aki Takase, Ernie Watts, Anat Fort, Richie Beirach and many others: he has played on around 50 jazz albums. A 1997 leader date, “Pisces” included Marc Johnson and Ben Monder as sidemen. Köbberling teaches drums at the FMB Conservatory in Leipzig.

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On 2/1/2017 at 4:45 PM, jlhoots said:

I pre-ordered the Taborn.

He's on the cover of the new Down Beat.

What do you think of the new album?  I like it quite a bit, but it may be too ECMy for some.

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1 hour ago, Guy Berger said:

What do you think of the new album?  I like it quite a bit, but it may be too ECMy for some.

Not for me. I like it.

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I like it too. One of those rare albums that's instantly likable but is still growing on me with every listen.

You really hear all of the band members flavours in there. If you're a fan of the personnel i don't think you can go wrong with this one.

 

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Trio Mediaeval &  Arve Henriksen - Rimur



Album release April 14, 2017

Anna Maria Friman   voice, hardanger fiddle

Linn Andrea Fuglseth   voice, shruti box

Berit Opheim   voice

Arve Henriksen    trumpet

Over several summers Trio Mediaeval and trumpeter Arve Henriksen spent many days together by the beautiful Dalsfjorden on the Norwegian west coast, and it was there that most of the music for this recording was born. Fascinated and inspired by Icelandic sagas, beautiful chants, folk songs, religious hymns and fiddle tunes, the quartet has arranged a unique set of songs where improvisation, mediaeval and traditional music from Iceland, Norway and Sweden meet the present. The singers and trumpeter have often performed in live settings with the collaboration reviewed by The Guardian as "a richly musical and imaginative encounter".  Rimur is their first extensive collaboration on disc and was recorded in February 2016 at Munich's Himmelfahrtskirche, produced by Manfred Eicher.

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Dominic Miller
Silent Light

Dominic Miller: guitar, electric bass
Miles Bould: percussion, drums

U.S. Release date: April 7, 2017

ECM 2518
B0026373-02
UPC: 6025 572 8484 3

Born in Argentina to an American father and Irish mother, guitarist Dominic Miller was raised in the U.S. from age 10 and then educated there and in England. Now he lives in France, though he has toured the globe for the past three decades. Aptly, Silent Light – Miller’s ECM debut, featuring him solo and with percussion accompaniment – has a very international feel, with the Latin influence strong in such pieces as “Baden” (dedicated to Brazilian guitarist-composer Baden Powell). “Le Pont” has an early 20th-century Parisian air, while “Valium” evokes Celtic tunes in the vein of Bert Jansch and “Fields of Gold” is a hushed instrumental take on one of Sting’s best-known ballads. Miller has long been known as Sting’s right-hand man on guitar – and co-writer of the worldwide hit “Shape of My Heart,” among others. Miller has also worked with the likes of Paul Simon, The Chieftains and Plácido Domingo. The guitarist’s playing has prompted praise from Simon, who points out, in a liner note to the album, that Miller “has a beautiful touch, with a fragrance of jazz and English folk.”

In his own booklet note, Miller recalls time spent talking music with Manfred Eicher, ECM’s founder and producer of Silent Light, about two of his key ECM influences: Egberto Gismonti and Pat Metheny, pointing to the appeal of the former’s “raw” approach blended with “classical overtones” and the more “groove-oriented” vibe of the latter with his music’s “Americana feel.” The tracks “Angel” and “Tisane” on Silent Light hint at Metheny’s big-sky acoustic manner, while the guitar-plus-percussion numbers reflect the inspiration of the Duas Vozes LP Gismonti made with Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos, who passed away just as Miller was rehearsing for Silent Light with his percussionist and lifelong friend, Miles Bould. For such pieces as the syncopated “Baden,” pensive opener “What You Didn’t Say,” atmospheric “Water” and “En Passant,” named after a chess move, Bould complements Miller’s guitar with subtle textural and rhythmic touches.

Working alongside Eicher, Miller and Bould recorded at Rainbow Studio in Oslo, Norway, with the recordings done mostly live on the floor, with no overdubs. “Chaos Theory,” the one Silent Light track featuring overdubs (a second guitar and electric bass, both by Miller), sees Bould behind the drum kit. They “have fun with the beat in much the same way as the Brazilian band Azymuth might do,” Miller explains. Elsewhere, the solo guitar music is mostly hushed and intimate, as with “Urban Waltz” (which has an Antonio Lauro-like Venezuelan lilt) and Anglo-folk-accented “Valium,” as well as “Angel,” “Tisane,” “Le Pont” and Sting’s “Fields of Gold.” Having worked with Sting since the singer’s 1991 Soul Cages album, Miller has been inspired by his songwriting. “I’m strongly influenced by his lateral sense of harmony and how he forms songs,” the guitarist says. “I try to do the same by creating a narrative with instrumental music, which I treat and arrange as songs, with verses, choruses, bridges.”

When not playing guitar in the studio and on tour with Sting and a vast spectrum of other pop artists, Miller has made a series of free-minded instrumental albums, collaborating with jazz players and folk musicians from such far-flung traditions as those of Wales, Morocco and Cuba. In talking about other influences on his instrumental music, Miller ranges from J.S. Bach (“the only music I practice”) to Debussy, Satie, Poulenc and Villa-Lobos, as well as pointing to English folk guitarists such as Jansch and Dick Gaughan and the folkloric music he heard during his youth in Latin America. He also refers to American R&B and English progressive rock as early motivators, not to mention the tradition of French chanson “that has gotten under my skin” over the past decade living in Provence. But the title of Silent Light came from a film of the same name by Mexican director Carlos Reygadas, whose work was also a catalyst for the album’s aura of simplicity, clarity and purity. “It’s his use of silence, light and space that really struck me,” the guitarist explains. “Minutes would go by with no movement or dialogue, which I found courageous and inspiring.”

Reflecting on the title Silent Light and about Miller, his musical colleague for nearly three decades, Sting says: “Whenever Dominic plays the guitar, he creates color, a complete spectrum of emotions, sonic architecture built of silence as well as resonance. He lifts the spirit into higher realms.”

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Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet - December Avenue

 

Tomasz Stanko: trumpet; David Virelles: piano;

Reuben Rogers: double bass, Gerald Cleaver: drums

 

Four years after the landmark album Wislawa, the great Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko's New York Quartet returns with another masterful recording, December Avenue.  Always an insightful bandleader, Stanko here encourages spirited improvisation to flower around his characteristically melancholic and soulful themes, and all players are presented to best advantage.  New band member Reuben Rogers - originally from the Virgin Islands and perhaps best-known for his work with Charles Lloyd - is a splendid addition to the team, establishing a profound understanding  with Cuban-born pianist David Virelles and Detroit drummer Gerald Cleaver. JazzTimes, reviewing the band in concert, reflected on the strengths of the individual players:  "Stanko has never had a piano player like Virelles. When his moments came, he configured his own lyrical domain within the world of a Stanko song. For that matter, Stanko has never had  a bassist and drummer like Rogers and Cleaver, with their hard edges and their volatile energy."

December Avenue was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in June 2016 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

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ECM NEW SERIES

 

 

Trio Mediaeval

Arve Henriksen

Rímur

 

Trio Mediaeval:

Anna Maria Friman: voice, Hardanger fiddle

Linn Andrea Fuglseth: voice, shruti box

Berit Opheim: voice

Arve Henriksen: trumpet

U.S. Release date: April 14, 2017

ECM New Series 2520             

B0026410-02

UPC: 0289 481 4742 7                                                                

 

With their seventh album, the scope of Trio Mediaeval’s music continues to expand. Previous ECM New Series releases have focused on aspects of early music, particularly sacred monophonic and polyphonic medieval music, as well as the trio’s strong relationships with contemporary composers. In parallel, the trio has also investigated the world of traditional folk songs. Now Rímur emphasizes the group’s interest in improvisation, in a collaboration with trumpeter Arve Henriksen, which also explores music from diverse Northern sources.

 

As Anna Maria Friman indicates in her liner note, improvisation has long been a significant component of Nordic musical tradition, and Trio Mediaeval has embraced it with enthusiasm. “Over the last ten years we have been fortunate to be involved in new collaborative projects with Norwegian jazz musicians and improvisers, and the inspiration and creativity that these musicians brought to the music and to the group have been hugely significant for us.” The trio has worked with Tord Gustavsen, Trygve Seim, Nils Økland, Mats Eilertsen, and many others. Arve Henriksen has often performed with Trio Mediaeval in live settings (and the singers and trumpeter appear together on Sinikka Langeland’s recent recording The Magical Forest) but Rímur is their first extensive collaboration on disc.

 

The roots of the present project go back to 2007 when Trio Mediaeval and Arve Henriksen took part in a ceremony in Dalksfjorden on Norway’s west coast celebrating connections between the village of Rivedal and the Icelandic capital of Reykyavík, founded by Norse settler Ingólfr Arnarson.

 

Over several summers Trio Mediaeval and Arve Henriksen spent many days together in Dalsfjorden, and it was there that most of the music for this recording was born. Fascinated and inspired by Icelandic sagas, chants, folk songs, religious hymns and fiddle tunes, the four musicians have arranged a unique set of songs where improvisation, mediaeval and traditional music – from Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the Orkney islands – meet the present. Something new is created from the integration of Henriksen’s liquid trumpet sound into the Trio Mediaeval’s subtle blending of voices.

 

“In this recording,” writes Anna Maria Friman, “we celebrate three saints with their famous medieval hymns: the monophonic chants of St. Sunniva of Norway, St. Birgitta of Sweden and a two-voice hymn of St. Magnus of Orkney. It’s hard for us to imagine now, but until quite late in the medieval period relatively little sacred polyphony was heard at all. Monophonic chant was the rock on which almost all musical experience was founded. In this context, even music composed for just two voices would have made a very special impression. The 17th century Icelandic Tvísöngur were originally two-part songs rather like the kind of improvised parallel organum known all over medieval Europe. Rímur, songs in the unique Icelandic tradition of rhyming narrative verse, were originally performed by kvæðamenn (male or female chanters) who went from farmstead to farmstead and were offered hospitality when reciting an evening wake. Like most of the Scandinavian folk songs the Rímur have been orally transmitted for centuries. Later in the twentieth century ethnographers and folk song collectors began to record these wonderful songs and tunes, and a vast number of melodies have been transcribed and preserved for future generations of singers and listeners.”

 

Trio Mediaeval and Arve Henriksen will be performing music from Rímur in the UK at the in Leeds on March 8, London March 9, and Bristol March 10. On March 11 they play Oslo’s Svenska Margaretakyrkan. For further upcoming Trio Mediaeval dates, visit www.ecmrecords.com and www.triomediaeval.no

 

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Trio Mediaeval was founded in Oslo in 1997. Its original members were Anna Maria Friman, Linn Andrea Fuglseth, and Torunn Østrem Ossum. When Torunn left the group at the end of 2013, she was replaced by Berit Opheim, who had been singing regularly with the ensemble since 2010. The first album with the revised line-up was Aquilonis, released in 2014.

 

Arve Henriksen has appeared on many ECM albums over the last two decades, beginning with the 1996 recording No Birch with the Christian Wallumrød Trio. He was recently featured in the Atmosphères quartet with Tigran Hamasyan, Evind Aarset and Jan Bang. Sampled voices of The Trio Mediaeval were incorporated into Henriksen’s Cartography (recorded 2005-2008), an album on which Anna Maria Friman also makes a guest appearance.

 

Rímur was recorded in February 2016 at Munich’s Himmelfahrtskirche, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

 

CD booklet includes all song texts with English translations, and a performer’s note by Anna Maria Friman.

ECM

 

 

Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet

December Avenue

 

Tomasz Stanko: trumpet

David Virelles: piano

Reuben Rogers: double bass

Gerald Cleaver: drums

 

U.S. Release date: April 14, 2017

 

ECM 2532                                     

B0026460-02

UPC: 6025 572 6302 2                  

 

The great Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko has long been one of the most distinctive musicians in all of jazz, his grainy tone and smeared notes instantly recognizable, his intensely lyrical improvisations and soulful themes as characteristic as the noirish atmospheres they often conjure. He’s also a player who gives a great deal of thought to context, and a generous bandleader who encourages his co-players to express themselves within his world of dark melody. JazzTimes noted recently: He writes melodies that pierce the heart like needles, but does not exactly write songs. His pieces are open forms, a few strokes or gestures that introduce a mood and set Stanko into motion. He needs musicians around him who can respond with independent creativity to his unique stimuli.” Stanko’s New York Quartet (featuring David Virelles, Reuben Rogers and Gerald Cleaver) is among his most exciting projects.

 

A decade ago, Stanko took an apartment in the city he still considers the jazz capital of the world, the stomping ground of all his early musical heroes including Monk, Miles, Coltrane and Cecil Taylor. His initial thought was that a New York retreat would be an ideal space to soak up inspiration and write new music, but it was not long before he was interacting with some of the most gifted and creative players on the scene. The first documentation of this activity was the double album Wisława, which introduced the first edition of Stanko’s New York Quartet. Released in 2013, it immediately netted much praise from the international press with The Guardian hailing it as “a dream-ticket jazz meeting between a cutting-edge European legend, and an equally honed triumvirate of pioneering New York-based musicians.”

 

Now December Avenue – recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in June 2016 and produced by Manfred Eicher – takes the story forward. There’s been one change in the line-up, and new bassist Reuben Rogers – originally from the Virgin Islands and perhaps best-known to ECM listeners for his work with Charles Lloyd (see Athens Concert, Rabo de Nube and Mirror) – proves to be a splendid addition to the team, establishing a profound understanding with Cuban-born pianist David Virelles and Detroit drummer Gerald Cleaver, and bringing a dancing buoyancy to the collective improvising. Rogers’ playing has, he says, internalized some of the lilting rhythms of the calypso music he heard as a child as well as the emotional fervor of gospel. An exceptionally well-rounded improviser, Reuben played clarinet, piano, drums and guitar before settling on the bass, and is well-placed both to drive the music forward and make cogent melodic contributions.

 

Pianist David Virelles, widely regarded as one of today’s most original pianists, exemplifies the melting-pot character of New York in sparkling solos that can cross reference Cuban rhythm with lessons learned from Muhal Richard Abrams, or allude to early influences including Andrew Hill and Bud Powell. Virelles has two ECM leader recordings already, Mbókò and Antenna, and a third is on the way. He is also member of Chris Potter’s new quartet and is featured on its new album The Dreamer Is The Dream, released in April 2017.

 

Gerald Cleaver, among the most resourceful of all contemporary drummers, first recorded for ECM 20 years ago, as a member of Roscoe Mitchell’s Note Factory. He has since appeared on albums for the label with Miroslav Vitous, Michael Formanek, Craig Taborn and, most recently, with Giovanni Guidi, Gianluca Petrella and Louis Sclavis on Ida Lupino. Cleaver is touring with Guidi, Petrella and Sclavis this Spring, as well as with Stanko.

 

December Avenue is Tomasz Stanko’s 12th album as a leader on ECM. The first of them Balladyna, recorded in 1975, established him as a major force in European jazz. His other discs for the label areMatka Joanna (recorded 1994), Leosia (1996), Litania – Music of Krzyszstof Komeda (1997), From The Green Hill (1998), Soul of Things (2001), Suspended Night (2003), Selected Recordings (2004), Lontano(2005), Dark Eyes (2009), and Wisława (2012). He can also be heard on Edward Vesala’s Satu (recorded 1976), Gary Peacock’s Voice from the Past – Paradigm (1981) and Manu Katché’s Neighbourhood (2004).

 

Stanko begins a European tour at the end of March, playing the music of December Avenue in Tromsø, Norway (March 30), Mo i Rana, Norway (March 31) Gateshead, United Kingdom (April 2), Rüsselsheim, Germany (April 3), Munich, Germany (April 4), Syke, Germany (April 5) Hamburg, Germany (April 6 and 7), Oslo, Norway (April 8), Voss, Norway (April 9), Helsinki, Finland (April 10), Poznan, Poland (April 11), Warsaw, Poland (April 12), and Stuttgart, Germany (April 16).

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

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. With this group, gentle but insistent rhythms can trigger seismic musical events.

Available on CD, LP and DOWNLOAD

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Benedikt Jahnel piano | Antonio Miguel double bass | Owen Howard drums

The album picks up where the trio’s critically-lauded Equilibrium left off, extending ideas about pianistic patterning and textural playing. A distinctive and original pianist, Jahnel is also a prolific writer and The Invariant pools the best of many pieces he has composed, road-tested and revised in the last five years, incorporating the dynamic responses of his trio partners into the fabric of the musical material.

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Julia Hülsmann piano | Marc Muellbauer double bass | Heinrich Köbberling drums

Over the last years Berlin-based pianist Julia Hülsmann’s trio has embarked upon extensive travels to distant destinations all around the world during which “something special developed”, says Hülsmann. “When traveling you not only gain new perspectives, but also experience even long standing partners anew. It helped to open up new sonic territory for us”.

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© 2017 ECM | ECM Records USA | 1755 Broadway, 3rd floor | New York NY 10011
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The great Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko’s New York Quartet returns with another masterful recording. Always an insightful bandleader, Stanko here encourages spirited improvisation to flower around his characteristically melancholic and soulful themes, and all players are presented to best advantage, with each one configuring their own lyrical domain within the world of a Stanko song.

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Trio Mediaeval: Anna Maria Friman, Linn Andrea Fuglseth, Berit Opheim 
Arve Henriksen: trumpet

Joined by trumpeter Arve Henriksen, Trio Mediaeval presents a unique program in which mediaeval and traditional music from Iceland and Norway and improvisation are integrated. The album highlights both Trio Mediæval's vocal creativity and the dramatically orchestral scope of Henriksen's array of trumpets and electronics. “A richly musical and imaginative encounter,” as described by The Guardian in a concert review. Recorded February 2016 at Munich’s Himmelfahrtskirche, produced by Manfred Eicher.

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RIAS Chamber Choir Berlin / Munich Chamber Orchestra 
Alexander Liebreich, conductor

Tigran Mansurian has created a Requiem dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide that occurred in Turkey (1915-1917). It reconciles the sound and sensibility of his country’s traditions with the Latin Requiem text in a profoundly moving contemporary composition. The work is a milestone for Mansurian, widely acknowledged as Armenia’s greatest composer. The LA Times has described his music as that “in which deep cultural pain is quieted through an eerily calm, heart-wrenching beauty.”

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Momo Kodama piano

“In the music of Toshio Hosokawa I find elements close to Debussy: the freedom of form and tone colour, the sense of poetic design, with a wide range of lyricism and dynamics, between meditation and virtuoso development, between light and shade, between large gestures and minimalist refinement.” – Momo Kodama

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Recorded June 14, 2016 at Avatar Studios, New York

Recording Engineer: James A. Farber

DDD

Producer: Manfred Eicher

 

 

ECM

 

 

 

Chris Potter

The Dreamer Is the Dream

 

Chris Potter: tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet

David Virelles: piano, keyboards

Joe Martin: double bass

Marcus Gilmore: drums, percussion

 

U.S. Release date : April 28, 2017

 

ECM 2519                

B0026400-02

UPC: 6025 574 0661 0

 

 

Chris Potter Quartet on tour: 

 

 

May 31

Minneapolis, MN

The Dakota

June 1- 4      

Chicago, IL

Jazz Showcase

June 6

Indianapolis, IN

Jazz Kitchen

June 7

San Diego, CA

The Athenaeum

June 8

Phoenix, AZ

Musical Instrument Museum

June 9 &10   

Denver, CO

DazzleJazz

June 11

Half Moon Bay, CA

Bach Dancing Society

June 13

San Francisco, CA

SFJAZZ Miner Auditorium   

June 14

Los Angeles, CA

venue tba

June 20-25 

New York, NY 

The Village Vanguard

June 26

Washington, DC  

Blues Alley

 

 

 

For his third ECM release as a leader, Chris Potter presents a new acoustic quartet that naturally blends melodic rhapsody with rhythmic muscle. The group includes superlative musicians well known to followers of ECM’s many recordings from New York over the past decade: keyboardist David Virelles, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore, who each shine in addition to the leader on multiple horns. The Dreamer Is the Dream features Potter on tenor saxophone – the instrument that has made him one of the most admired players of his generation – in the striking opener “Heart in Hand” and such album highlights as “Yasodhara,” as well as on soprano sax (“Memory and Desire”) and bass clarinet (the title track). Potter is an artist who “employs his considerable technique in service of music rather than spectacle,” says The New Yorker, and his composing develops in texture and atmosphere with every album.

 

Potter and company recorded The Dreamer Is the Dream at New York City’s Avatar Studios, following several days of preproduction run-throughs in Switzerland and a long string of live performances before that. By the time they convened at Avatar, the music flowed out abundantly, with producer Manfred Eicher helping to shape the end result to dramatic effect. Potter says, “As a player, you can get lost in the thicket of things. But Manfred sees the forest, not just the trees. He has a real feel for the big picture – mood, density, an album as storytelling. I’ve made a lot of records with him now, and I appreciate more and more the synergistic give and take with him.”

 

As for the quartet, its “cross-generational mix of personalities feels special,” Potter says. “Joe Martin I’ve known the longest – we used to play all the same New York clubs back in the ’90s. Along with the fact that he always plays perfectly in tune, he has this focused, deliberate approach to the bass, very clear and supportive – he’s the foundation of the band. This quartet has a big dynamic range, but also more control, allowing me to play in a thoughtful way. Joe is a big part of that.

 

“Now Marcus, he’s a very individual drummer,” Potter adds. “He doesn’t have a splashy, flashy sound, but one that’s subtle, detailed, very musical. He has his own way of playing and seems to evolve every six months. On piano, David is coming from a unique place, having grown up in Cuba but never playing in any stereotypical Latin way. His musical center is much further to the left than some of his forebears. He has made a serious study of Cuban folkloric rhythms but also of avant-garde jazz. He plays with Henry Threadgill, and then I’ll see him working on a Ligeti etude. The rhythmic sophistication of David’s playing is just extraordinary. And the way David and Marcus interact rhythmically has this particular generational character – it’s their own thing. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but Joe and I share it in our own way. Our generation – with people like Brad Mehldau, Joshua Redman, Kurt Rosenwinkel – has its own sensibility, its own center of rhythmic gravity. Marcus and David’s generation is building on what we did just as we did on the generation before us. That’s challenging – and inspiring.”

 

Potter describes his compositional method as often being “like a dream state.” “Heart in Hand,” “Memory and Desire” and the album’s title track each came from such free-associative writing sessions. The title track includes some of Potter’s most expressive playing on bass clarinet, while “Memory and Desire” is notable for its opening atmosphere set by samples as well as the multiple woodwind overdubs, Potter having imagined it scored all of a piece. He explored inspirations further afield with “Yasodhara,” named for the wife Buddha left behind; this track reveals its Indian influence in a 10-minute cycling of tempos, along with being marked by an especially dramatic extended improvisation by Virelles. “Ilimba” evokes Africa, with Potter designing the piece around a pattern he wrote on the titular thumb piano; the piece also includes an exciting drum solo from Gilmore. “Sonic Anomaly” is the album’s “light-hearted kicker,” in Potter’s words.

 

The creative process for each of Potter’s ECM albums has varied widely, part of an ideal of evolution. “One of the challenges in jazz is that we have to ask ourselves how comfortable we are working in a different way from the time before – and pushing past that,” he says. “I try to keep in mind that the primary value of jazz is its aesthetic of surprise, not only for the audience but for the artist. It’s the art of making it up as you go along, taking advantage of happy accidents and finding the story to unfold on the way. That’s when the magic happens.”

 

 

 

Chris Potter

Since bursting onto the New York scene in 1989 as an 18-year-old prodigy with bebop icon Red Rodney, Potter has steered a steady course of growth as an instrumentalist and composer-arranger. A potent improviser and the youngest musician ever to win Denmark's Jazzpar Prize, Potter has forged an impressive discography that includes 17 albums as a leader and sideman appearances on 100 more. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for his solo work on "In Vogue," a track from Joanne Brackeen’s 1999 album Pink Elephant Magic, and he featured prominently on Steely Dan’s Grammy-winning album from 2000, Two Against Nature, and Dave Holland’s ECM Grammy-winner from 2002, What Goes Around. He has performed or recorded with such leading names in jazz as Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Jim Hall, Paul Motian, Ray Brown, John Scofield and Dave Douglas, as well as with the Mingus Big Band. Potter made his ECM debut on Dave Holland’s 2000 album Prime Directive, following that with appearances on the bassist’s Not for Nothin’, Extended Play: Live at Birdland and What Goes Around. Along with featuring on Steve Swallow’s Always Pack Your Uniform on Top and Damaged in Transit, Potter collaborated with Paul Motian and Jason Moran on the 2010 ECM live album Lost in a Dream.

 

Potter’s ECM leader debut of 2013, The Sirens, saw him at the head of a quartet with bassist Larry Grenadier, drummer Eric Harland and both Craig Taborn and David Virelles on keyboards. BBC Online praised the album as proof that “the union of Potter and ECM promises to be happy and fruitful.” The saxophonist’s second ECM release, 2015’s classically tinged Imaginary Cities, featured his Underground Orchestra, a group that built on the core of his previous Underground Quartet with Taborn, guitarist Adam Rogers and drummer Nate Smith to also include two bassists, a string quartet and Potter’s old band mate from the Dave Holland Quintet, vibraphonist Steve Nelson. All About Jazz called the album “a masterpiece.”

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Louis Sclavis / Dominique Pifarély / Vincent Courtois

Asian Fields Variations

releasing May 5th 

 

Louis Sclavis: clarinets   Dominique Pifarély: violin

Vincent Courtois: violoncello

 

Asian Fields Variations marks the first time that clarinettist Louis Sclavis, violinist Dominique Pifarély and cellist Vincent Courtois have recorded as a trio.  Sclavis summoned the project into existence, but this is a democratic group of creative equals:  "I proposed that we make a real collective, and each of us composes for the program."  For a 'new' group, it has a lot of pre-history: Sclavis and Pifarély have played together in diverse contexts for 35 years, Sclavis and Courtois for 20 years, but they retain the capacity to surprise each other as improvisers. "We’re drawing also on a lot of different playing experiences, and we’re continually bringing new things to the project. We keep going deeper." The album was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in Pernes-les-Fontaines last September, with Manfred Eicher as producer.    

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Avishai Cohen

Cross My Palm With Silver

Release date: May 5,2017

 

Avishai Cohen: trumpet / Yonathan Avishai: piano

Barak Mori: double bass / Nasheet Waits: drums

 
 

A year after his impressionistic, critically-lauded ECM debut Into The Silence, trumpeter Avishai Cohen’s Cross My Palm With Silver introduces a program of new pieces which put the focus on the ensemble, on teamwork, with a quartet of the highest caliber.  The adroit, almost telepathic interplay among the musicians allows Avishai Cohen to soar, making it clear why he is one of the most talked-about jazz musicians on the contemporary scene. “All of these people together are my dream team”, says the charismatic trumpeter of fellow players Yonathan Avishai, Barak Mori  and Nasheet Waits, who share his sense for daring improvisation and his feeling for structure. 

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ECM

 

 

 

Avishai Cohen

Cross My Palm With Silver

 

Avishai Cohen: trumpet

Yonathan Avishai: piano

Barak Mori: double bass

Nasheet Waits: drums

 

U.S. Release date: May 5, 2017

 

ECM 2548                            

CD UPC: 6025 572 9057 8                       

LP UPC: 6025 573 9780 2

 

 

A year after his impressionistic, critically-lauded ECM debut Into The Silence, Avishai Cohen’s Cross My Palm With Silver introduces a program of new pieces which put the focus on the ensemble, on teamwork, with an exceptional quartet. The adroit interplay among the musicians allows Avishai Cohen to soar, making it clear why the pure-toned trumpeter is one of the most talked-about jazz musicians on the contemporary scene.

 

“All of these people together are my dream team”, says Cohen of fellow players Yonathan Avishai, Barak Mori and Nasheet Waits, who share his sense for daring improvisation and his feeling for structure. “I feel we’re in a perfect place with the balance. It’s open and there’s so much room for the improvisation to take the music any place we can. At the same time the composition is very specific and the vibe is very direct and thought about.” Cohen praises drummer Nasheet Waits, a musical partner for more than a decade, for “allowing the music to grow in an amazing way. I’ve never heard him play the same thing twice. A groove or beat never sounds the same. Spending time on the road with him is always inspiring. For me, he is a real link to the tradition and to the masters.”

 

The arrival of bassist Barak Mori, a friend since high school days, has “tied the band together,” says Cohen: “His swing feel is incredible. Every little note he plays is so clear and so pretty.” Pianist Yonathan Avishai is Cohen’s “musical brother – a big part of my musical journey” ­– they started out together in Tel Aviv, aged 12, and through formative years “played everything from Ornette Coleman music to standards, Gershwin and Duke, always trying to go deeper. Never taking things for granted, keeping the search active.”

 

The quartet spent much of last year on the road and, shortly before the recording session in September 2016, Cohen began to ease the material he had been writing since Into The Silence into the live set. Into The Silence had been a very personal statement, written soon after the death of Cohen’s father. Its reflections on mortality were conveyed with an expressive grace and yearning lyricism that struck a responsive chord with many listeners. This time there was no over-arching thematic concept: “But I still used the same rules I’d given myself for the first album,” Cohen says. “Which were: to stay attuned to the current situation in my life and not go back to any older material of mine.”

 

Avishai Cohen wrote the music in Israel, the political climate in the Middle East and elsewhere inducing a familiar sense of helplessness. Like Mingus or Max Roach before him, Cohen uses his song titles to point to injustices at home and abroad as a small gesture of dissent. Meanwhile the beauty of the music makes its own argument.

 

“I’m affected by what happens in my country and in the world…And by how politics divides us as people. At least to me, this music raises some question about what it is we are here to do. There’s a beautiful phrase in Judaism: if you save one soul it’s as if you saved the whole world. Change should start from there. Each of us should do whatever we can to be compassionate. I don’t know how much the music represents that, but that’s what I was feeling when I was writing it.”

 

As with Into The Silence, Cross My Palm With Silver was produced by Manfred Eicher at Studios La Buissonne in the south of France and is issued on the eve of a major European tour. Touring in the US is planned for September 2017. 

ECM

 

 

 

Louis Sclavis / Dominique Pifarély / Vincent Courtois

Asian Fields Variations

 

Louis Sclavis: clarinets

Dominique Pifarély: violin

Vincent Courtois: violoncello

           

U.S. Release date: May 5, 2017

ECM 2504                              

B0026545-02

UPC: 6025 573 2668 0                                        

 

Asian Fields Variations marks the first time that clarinettist Louis Sclavis, violinist Dominique Pifarély and cellist Vincent Courtois, long-time colleagues, have recorded as a trio. Sclavis summoned the project into existence, but emphasizes that this is a democratic group of creative equals: “I proposed that we make a real collective, and each of us composes for the program.” All three are major figures in contemporary French creative music: this is a new group with a lot of history. Sclavis and Pifarély have played together in diverse contexts for 35 years, Sclavis and Courtois for 20 years. As one can hear on the recording, they have retained the capacity to surprise each other – and their listeners – as improvisers. Alertness and freshness are key qualities here. “We’re always drawing also on a lot of different playing experiences. And those experiences are reflected in what we write, and what we play. We’re continually bringing new things to the project, and we keep going deeper.”

 

If the instrumentation – clarinet, violin, cello – implies a chamber music orientation, Sclavis suggests this is only part of the story. “What I am doing, as I’ve often done in the past, is just writing for the musicians. So I ask myself simple questions: What does Dominique play best? What does he like to play? And Vincent? And how about me? What do I love to play? And these considerations are the starting points.” Each of the players has his own compositional signature, however, with Dominique Pifarély’s pieces being perhaps the most rigorously “written” here. The balance of composition and improvisation, Sclavis notes, was also readjusted in the course of the recording session, produced by Manfred Eicher, at Studios La Buissone in Pernes-les-Fontaines in the South of France in September 2016.

 

*

 

Sclavis (born 1953 in Lyon) originally encountered Pifarély (born 1957 in Bègles) in the group of bassist Didier Levallet. “It was immediately a very good feeling to play with Dominique and I invited him to join my group for the recording Chine [IDA records, 1987].” This was promptly followed by the Sclavis/Pifarély Acoustic Quartet album on ECM. “Altogether I must have played in around fifteen different formations and projects with Dominique.” These include Les violences de Rameau, recorded in 1995 and 1996, featuring some flamboyant playing inspired by baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau.

 

Vincent Courtois (born 1968 in Paris) was first asked by Sclavis to participate in a theatre music project in the late 1990s. “I found Vincent’s playing very touching, and we had a strong musical connection.” Courtois arrived in Sclavis’s band in time to participate in the recording of L’affrontement des prétendants in 1999, and can also be heard on the 2002 recording Napoli’s Walls. The 2000 recording Dans la nuit, featuring Sclavis’s music for the silent movie by Charles Vanel, marked the first occasion that Louis, Dominique and Vincent had appeared together on disc (in an ensemble completed by Jean-Louis Matinier and François Merville). They toured widely with the project: “In some ways it was the opposite of what we are doing now, because we had to match the music to images and we were trying to play exactly the same every night. But for developing a sound together and for precision and discipline, it was very good for us.”

 

The first trio performances – “fifteen or sixteen years ago” – found Sclavis, Pifarély and Courtois on the road in Africa and South America. After crossing each other’s paths repeatedly in the following years (Pifarély and Courtois, in and out of Sclavis’s projects, have often played duo concerts, and Sclavis has also guested with Courtois’ groups) all three came together again in 2013 for a project with Japanese pianist Aki Takase, which underlined the special musical understanding these players share.

 

The trio was officially re-launched in March 2015 with a new program of compositions premiered at the A Vaulx Jazz Festival, near Lyon. Now, in Spring 2017, they undertake a French regional tour with concerts in Bessé sur Braye (March 17), La Ferté-Bernard (March 22), La Flèche (March 28), Saint Saturnin (March 29), La Roche sur Yon (March 30), Flers (April 1), Voiron (April 2), Parigné- L'Evêque (April 4), Saint Berthevin (April 5 and 6), Strasbourg (April 7), Saint Florent le Vieil (April 9), and Poitiers (May 30). International summer festival dates are currently being finalized.

 

*

 

Louis Sclavis, Dominique Pifarély and Vincent Courtois have between them a rich, multifaceted discography on ECM. In addition to his recordings as leader, Sclavis can be heard on the recently issued Ida Lupino with Giovanni Guidi, Gianluca Petrella and Gerald Cleaver; this quartet is also currently touring. Dominique Pifarély has had two ECM albums released in the last two years, the solo violin recital Time Before And Time After and the quartet album Tracé Provisoire, with pianist Antonin Rayon, bassist Bruno Chevillon and drummer François Merville. He also appears on Poros with François Couturier and recordings with Stefano Battaglia (Raccolto and Re:Pasolini, the latter also featuring Vincent Courtois). Courtois can furthermore be heard on In Touch with trombonist Yves Robert.

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ECM D.MILLR emailVIDEO
MINI D.MILLR email

Miller’s ECM debut has an international feel: the Latin influence of his heritage strong in such pieces as “Baden”, an early 20th-century Parisian air on “Le Pont” and the evocation of Celtic tunes on “Valium”. Miller has long been known as Sting’s right-hand man on guitar and a hushed instrumental take on “Fields of Gold” appears here. Miller has also worked with the likes of The Chieftains, Plácido Domingo and Paul Simon who points out Miller’s “beautiful touch” in the album’s liner note.

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Avishai Cohen trumpet | Yonathan Avishai piano 
Barak Mori double bass Nasheet Waits drums

A year after his impressionistic, critically-lauded ECM debut Into The Silence, trumpeter Avishai Cohen’s Cross My Palm With Silver introduces a program of new pieces which put the focus on the ensemble, on teamwork, with a quartet of the highest caliber. The adroit, almost telepathic interplay among the musicians allows Avishai Cohen to soar, making it clear why he is one of the most talked-about jazz musicians on the contemporary scene. “All of these people together are my dream team”, says the charismatic trumpeter of fellow players Yonathan Avishai, Barak Mori and Nasheet Waits, who share his sense for daring improvisation and his feeling for structure. “I feel we’re in a perfect place with the balance. It’s open and there’s so much room for the improvisation to take the music any place we can. At the same time the composition is very specific and the vibe is very direct and thought about.” As with Into The Silence, Cross My Palm With Silver was produced by Manfred Eicher at Studios La Buissonne in the south of France.

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 Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan

Small Town

release date: May 26, 2017 

Tour dates:

June 23    Ottawa, ON            Ottawa Jazz Festival

June 24    Toronto, ON           Toronto Jazz Festival

June 25    Rochester, NY        Rochester Jazz Festival

June 27    New Haven, CT      Firehouse 12

June 28    Pawling, NY            Darryl’s Place

June 29    Bay Shore, NY        Boulton Center for the Performing Arts

June 30    Brooklyn, NY           Roulette

July 1        Evanston, IL           SPACE

July 2        Montreal, PQ          Montreal Jazz Festival

 

 

Small Town documents guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan in a program of luminous duets, the poetic chemistry of their playing captured live at New York’s hallowed Village Vanguard.

ECM

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Quercus - Nightfall

release date:  May 26, 2017

 

June Tabor: voice

Iain Ballamy: tenor and soprano saxophones

Huw Warren: piano

 

Quercus’s self-titled ECM debut won the album-of-the-year award of the German Record Critics in 2013, was widely praised by the international press, and especially celebrated in Britain where June Tabor has long reigned as “the dark voiced queen of English folk music” (to quote The Times). Folk and jazz and chamber music become one in Quercus’s world, where recontextualizing of material is part of the process, prompting listeners to pay heightened attention even to familiar songs.

ECM

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Aaron Parks - Find the Way

release date: June 2, 2017

 

Aaron Parks: piano, Ben Street: double bass, Billy Hart: drums

 

For the second ECM album by Aaron Parks – following the solo releaseAborescence, which JazzTimes praised as “expansive, impressionistic… like a vision quest” – the prize-winning pianist has convened a cross-generational trio featuring bassist Ben Street and drummer Billy Hart. The rhythm pair, which also teams in Hart’s hit quartet for ECM, blends fluidity and strength – what Parks calls “an oceanic” quality, producing waves of energy for the pianist to alternately ride and dive into. Find the Way has the aura of a piano-trio recording in the classic mold, from melody-rich opener “Adrift” to the closing title track, a cover of a romantic tune Parks grew to love on an LP by Rosemary Clooney and Nelson Riddle. Always concerned with balancing the masculine and feminine impulses in music, Parks also drew inspiration for this album from the likes of Alice Coltrane and Shirley Horn (for whom Hart played); space and subtlety are a priority, with the pianist aiming to allow “the music to breathe and be.”

ECM

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Ferenc Snétberger - Titok

Release date: June 2, 2017

 

Ferenc Snétberger: guitar / Anders Jormin: double bass

Joey Baron: drums

 

Hungarian guitarist Ferenc Snétberger made a lot of new friends with his ECM solo debut In Concert (“a beautiful, assured performance” – All About Jazz) and will make many more with Titok, which features his trio with Swedish bassist Anders Jormin and US drummer Joey Baron. Recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in May 2015 and produced by Manfred Eicher, it’s a warm and involving album, with an emphasis on intensely melodic improvisation and interaction which draws the listener gently into its sound-world. The rapport between Snétberger and Jormin is evident from the outset, as both guitar and bass explore the contours of Ferenc’s compositions. Throughout, Joey Baron’s drums and cymbals provide shading and texture with restraint and subtlety.

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Bill Frisell: guitar | Thomas Morgan: double bass

Small Town presents guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan in a program of duets, the poetic chemistry of their playing captured live at New York’s hallowed Village Vanguard. Frisell made his debut as a leader for ECM in 1983 with the similarly intimate In Line. Small Town sees Frisell and Morgan pay homage to the Paul Motian with a searching, 11-minute interpretation of the late drummer’s composition “It Should’ve Happened a Long Time Ago,” the duo’s counterpoint yielding a hushed power, and to jazz elder Lee Konitz on “Subconscious Lee.” In addition there are several country/blues-accented Frisell originals, including the hauntingly melodic title track, and the set is capped with an inimitable treatment of John Barry’s famous James Bond theme “Goldfinger.”

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ECM

 

 

Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan

Small Town

 

Bill Frisell: electric guitar

Thomas Morgan: double bass

 

U.S. Release date: May 26, 2017

ECM 2525                

B0026546-02

UPC: 6025 574 6341 5

 

 

Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan on tour:

 

June 23         Ottawa, ON               Ottawa Jazz Festival

June 24         Toronto, ON             Toronto Jazz Festival

June 25         Rochester                Rochester Jazz Festival

June 27         New Haven, CT       Firehouse 12

June 28         Pawling, NY             Darryl’s Place

June 29         Bay Shore, NY        Boulton Center for the Performing Arts

June 30         Brooklyn, NY           Roulette

July 1             Evanston, IL            SPACE

July 2             Montreal, PQ            Montreal Jazz Festival

 

 

Small Town presents guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan in a program of duets, the poetic chemistry of their playing captured live at New York’s hallowed Village Vanguard. Frisell made his debut as a leader for ECM in 1983 with the similarly intimate In Line, establishing one of the most distinctive sounds of any modern guitarist. His rich history with the label includes multiple recordings with Paul Motian andSmall Town begins with a tribute to Motian in the form of a searching, 11-minute interpretation of the late drummer’s composition “It Should’ve Happened a Long Time Ago,” the duo’s counterpoint yielding a hushed power. Morgan, who also played with Motian, has appeared on ECM as bassist of choice for Tomasz Stanko, Jakob Bro, David Virelles, Giovanni Guidi and Masabumi Kikuchi.

 

Frisell first met the California-born Morgan through Joey Baron in the 1990s, when the bassist was “very impressive, even though he was still a kid, basically,” recalls the Grammy-winning guitarist. “Later, we played together at a session led by drummer Kenny Wollesen. In the midst of all this action there, a kind of cacophony, I heard this bass note that just felt so present and right – even though Thomas was 40 or 50 feet away from me in a big studio. It struck me. And we played together again at Paul Motian’s last session, so it’s special that we both have this connection to Paul and his music. I asked Thomas to sit in with some of my groups, and we developed this rapport. Thomas has this way of almost time-traveling, as if he sees ahead of the music and sorts it all out before he plays a note. He never plays anything that isn’t a response to what I play, anticipating me in the moment. That sort of support makes me feel weightless, like I can really take off.

 

“Thomas and I are also similar in that we’re both quiet personalities,” Frisell continues. “Whenever I play guitar, that’s my true voice. It’s not so dissimilar with Thomas, I think. Playing the bass is his natural way of expressing himself. And I'm going to steal a phrase from the saxophonist Charles Lloyd, who once said to me before a gig, ‘I’m really looking forward to singing with you.’ I think that way about playing with Thomas, too. He really plays the song, whether it’s a Fats Domino tune or something abstract – the energy comes from the same place.”

 

The Village Vanguard, opened in 1935, has a unique resonance for Frisell. He recorded there with Motian and Lovano, as well as later as a leader on his own. Moreover, the guitarist first started soaking up the club’s vibe as a listener in 1969, “when it already had so much history, including Paul recording famously there with Bill Evans,” Frisell says. “I first went there to see Gary Burton’s band, then it was Mingus, Roland Kirk, Hank Jones, Charlie Rouse, so many amazing artists. With all the notes that have been played there, the room is like a Gibson guitar from the 1940s – the history is in the molecules of the wood. I’ve played the Vanguard myself now many times over the years, and Thomas played there with Paul and others. We know that the club’s sound and atmosphere will make things happen in a certain way. Playing duo has a special intimacy but also a fragility. We’re not pushing the walls back with volume, after all. You need focus and attention from the audience. You can get that at the Vanguard.”

 

“It Should’ve Happened a Long Time Ago,” the opener for Small Town, had its studio debut on the 1985 ECM album of the same name by the trio of Paul Motian, Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell. That iconic trio had a standing two-week residency at the Vanguard in Paul’s last years. When Frisell and Morgan played the piece at the Vanguard, “the spirit of Paul seemed to hover over us,” Frisell says. “There’s a singing quality to Paul’s music. It’s not like math – it comes from an almost vocal place. The song is deceptively simple, just the melody and one chord, basically; but it conjures this atmosphere that you can really move around in. It’s like a structure without walls; it doesn’t box you in. It’s magical to me, and moving.”

 

Frisell and Morgan also paid homage to two living jazz icons at the Vanguard, playing Konitz’s “Subconscious Lee” and Frisell’s melody-rich original “Song for Andrew No.1,” dedicated to drummer Andrew Cyrille. The guitarist has worked with Konitz on multiple occasions (including Kenny Wheeler’s 1997 ECM album Angel Song), and the saxophonist was in the audience at the Vanguard when Frisell and Morgan recorded Small Town. The duo pulled out his bebop “Subconscious Lee” of 1949 as an impromptu tribute. “Song for Andrew” made its debut on the drummer’s ECM album of last year, The Declaration of Musical Independence, which featured Frisell. “Andrew is a real elder of the music, his experience going all the way back to Coleman Hawkins and then onto Cecil Taylor through today. There’s a lot of music running through guys like Andrew and Lee.”

 

Guitaristically, “Small Town” includes Frisell’s characteristic country/blues accents and has its basis in the playing of Maybelle Carter of The Carter Family, an exemplar of American country music in the 1920s and ’30s. “Maybelle Carter has been a big influence on me,” Frisell notes. “Actually, she’s a big influence on most non-classical guitar players, whether they know it or not, with that way of playing melody and rhythm simultaneously.” The guitarist makes another nod to The Carter Family on Small Town by playing the folk tune “Wildwood Flower,” made famous by the group.

 

A different sort of classic American music is symbolized by Fats Domino’s “What a Party,” an off-kilter example of New Orleans rock’n’roll that Frisell and Morgan recast in a pointillistic way at the Vanguard, at the bassist’s suggestion. “I think it’s a tune that belies the composer’s craft, giving the impression it was discovered rather than composed,” Morgan says. “The opening bass line is ingeniously simple, and the melody has a vocal quality. It wouldn’t seem to lend itself to being played instrumentally, but Bill is the perfect person to do it. His sound is as expressive as a voice, and he weaves the rhythmic and vocal parts together so that you somehow hear more than what’s being played.”

 

Small Town also includes “Poet – Pearl,” a Morgan original bolstered with a Frisell intro. “It was one of my very first compositions,” Morgan says. “I came up with the melody on the subway when I was in my first year at school in New York. Talking about how I wrote it and the title, Bill pointed out that a pearl is rare and beautiful and takes an element of chance to find, like that piece in a way. I think those words have nice connotations not only for the song but also for our collaboration.” The duo rounds off their album with a totem from Frisell’s youth, “Goldfinger.” He recalls: “The atmosphere of that song takes me back to the early 1960s, when I was first getting fired up about playing the guitar, but also when I was learning to drive, doing things like going to downtown Denver on a date to see a James Bond movie. The music itself is so cool, with some pretty amazing things going on in the melody and harmony. Because the tune became so popular, you can miss some of the deeper musical things going on – they become almost subliminal.”

 

Reflecting on the Vanguard and the experience of making Small Town, Frisell concludes: “Even though I’ve played ‘It Should’ve Happened a Long Time Ago’ what must be hundreds and hundreds of times, it always feels different somehow. I mean, it’s the same melody, the same song, but it’s not fixed – it lives. The music lives beyond Paul, just as it will live past us. The Vanguard, too – the notes keep resonating off the walls there, night after night. The listeners down through the years are part of that. They were there with us, as they were for Bill Evans or John Coltrane. Now the music we played on that night is on a record for more people to listen to, the notes resonating further. It’s incredible if you think about it.”

 

ECM

 

Quercus

Nightfall

 

June Tabor: voice

Iain Ballamy: tenor and soprano saxophones

Huw Warren: piano

U.S. Release date: May 26, 2017

ECM 2522                            

B0026547-02

UPC:  6025 574 3078 3

 

“An unlikely trio, you might think, but the combination proves quite magical. Together they create a subtle new idiom.”

-          The Observer

 

Quercus, the trio in which pianist Huw Warren and saxophonist Ian Ballamy shape new contexts for the dark and moving voice of June Tabor, made a major impact with its ECM debut album, issued in 2013. The recording won the German Record Critics’ Prize as Album of the Year (Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, Jahrespreis) and the international press recognized what the UK folk world has known for many years: that nobody gets inside the meaning of a song in the way that June Tabor does, illuminating a lyric and exploring a tune’s emotional atmosphere.

 

On Nightfall, recorded in December 2015 at Cooper Hall in the Somerset town of Frome and produced by Warren and Ballamy, Quercus takes its creative process to the next level. There are wonderful songs from folk tradition here, including “The Manchester Angel” and the 19thcentury broadside “Once I Loved you Dear (The Irish Girl)”, pieces collected by Somerset folklorist Ruth Tongue (“On Berrow Sands” and “The Shepherd and his Dog”), a charming version of “The Cuckoo” inspired by the singing of Dorset gypsy Queen Caroline Hughes, and there are subtly phrased instrumental pieces – Warren’s pastoral “Christchurch”, Ballamy’s ballad “Emmeline”.

 

There are also four songs which almost every listener will know. The album opens with that most famous song of farewell, “Auld Lang Syne”, and right away Tabor, Ballamy and Warren alert us to the notion that even the most familiar songs can yield new meaning if looked at from new perspectives. Freshly arranged versions of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice”, the West Side Story Bernstein/Sondheim song of yearning “Somewhere”, and the jazz standard “You Don’t Know What Love Is” similarly prove to be fine vehicles for Tabor’s focused, respectful and austere approach, a matter of honoring the song, even while transforming it. Traditional folk song, contemporary songs, show tunes, jazz – Quercus’s concept can embrace it all.

 

“The folk singer June Tabor has been a marvel of English music since the 1960s, and her long-term pianist Huw Warren and saxophonist Iain Ballamy only enhance her clarity, stillness and deep but fragile sound,” wrote The Guardian’s John Fordham of the trio’s debut album. “Nobody plays a note too many or expresses a false emotion. It’s a unique tribute to the power of song.”

 

As melodic counterpart to Tabor, saxophonist Iain Ballamy is an ideal partner. In a sense, he is a second singer in Quercus. His other primary ECM context, the electro-improv band Food – see the albums Quiet Inlet, Mercurial Balm, This Is Not A Miracle – might seem a long way from Quercus’s pristine sound-world, but there too Ballamy has been refining his sound down to essentials and savoring each tone.

 

Pianist Huw Warren, whose rare combination of originality and understatement has been appreciated by many singers, has been arranger-accompanist for Tabor for nearly three decades. Concurrently, he has been active across a broad span of genres, as composer, jazz improviser and educator, and has worked with musicians from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to Kenny Wheeler. Huw Warren and Iain Ballamy also play duo concerts.

 

Quercus is on the road in the UK in the weeks ahead with concerts including Turner Sims Hall, Southampton on April 8, Oxford Contemporary Music on May 10, and King’s Place, London on May 11.

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