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ECM Press Releases for New Items

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Jon Balke - Siwan - Nahnou Houm

Release date November 17, 2017


Mona Boutchebak: vocals, oud; Jon Balke; piano, keyboards, percussion;

Derya Turkan: kamanche;  Pedram Khavar Zamini: tombak;

Helga Norbakken: percussion; Bjarte Eike: baroque violin;

Alison Luthmers,  Øivind Nussle: violins;

Milos Valent, Per Buhre, Torbjørn Köhl: violas;

Judith Maria Blomsterberg, Mime Brinkmann: cellos;

Johannes Lundberg: bass


Siwan, the international collective led by Norwegian keyboardist-composer-arranger Jon Balke, released its ECM debut in 2009 and is now back, rallying its powerful instrumental forces behind a new lead singer, Mona Boutchebak from Algeria. Perceived correspondences between Arabic music, Andalusian classical music and European baroque music fired Jon Balke's imagination when he started this project a decade ago.  To bring these sound worlds closer together he set poetry of Al Andalus, reflecting upon a period of coexistence between adherents of the three great religions.  But Siwan does not set out to be an "historical" project:  it's a contemporary creation, delivered by an alliance of strongly individual players, fronted by a vocalist deeply rooted in Arab music traditions. 

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Study of Touch

Django Bates piano | Petter Eldh double bass | Peter Bruun drums_ 
British pianist Django Bates returns to ECM with one of his very finest constellations – three highly individual players subtly challenge the conventions of the jazz piano trio. Bates’ composing and arranging skills are much in evidence, along with his freewheeling, free-flowing virtuosic melodic sense. The terse, percussive edge of Eldh’s bass provides momentum and drummer Bruun details the music with an almost painterly touch. In the crowded world of the piano trio, Belovèd has developed a sound all its own.


Stefano Battaglia piano, prepared piano

Stefano Battaglia plays both piano and prepared piano (sometimes simultaneously) in a highly attractive double-album program that includes his own compositions and spontaneous improvisations as well as two versions of the Arabic traditional song “Lamma Bada Yatathanna”. The melodic and texturally-inventive pieces, some of almost hypnotic allure, were recorded both in concert and in “closed doors” sessions at the Fazioli Concert Hall in Sacile, Italy, in May 2016, and subsequently arranged into what Battaglia describes as “a wonderful new shape with a completely new dramaturgy” by producer Manfred Eicher.


Maciej Obara alto saxophone | Dominik Wania piano 
Ole Morten Vågan double bass | Gard Nilssen drums

Maciej Obara makes a striking ECM debut with Unloved, an album whose expressive range embraces tender lyricism and impassioned, fiery, 
powerful playing. Bar one track, the themes are by the highly inventive alto saxophonist Obara who emphasizes however that they “serve as outlines, 
from which our sound is set free. My friends are amazing improvisers. I love 
their ability to move around freely in open spaces, and the way they shape 
and give color to what I have in mind…”


Björn Meyer bass guitar

There is a distinguished tradition of solo bass albums on ECM, but Provenance is the first to be devoted to the electric bass guitar. Björn Meyer, Swedish-born, Swiss-based, and known to ECM followers through his work with Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin and Anouar Brahem, has shaped a unique voice for his instrument inside the most diverse contexts. Although his instrument is technically non-acoustic, Meyer’s solo work is concerned with the experience of sound in acoustic spaces with the richness of the the highly responsive Auditorio Stello Molo RSI in Lugano helping to bring out all the fine detail in his subtle playing.

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© 2017 ECM | ECM Records USA | 1755 Broadway, 3rd floor | New York NY 10011

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Maciej Obara Quartet



Maciej Obara: alto saxophone

Dominik Wania: piano

Ole Morten Vågan double bass

Gard Nilssen drums


ECM 2573                            


UPC: 6025 576 4562 0


“My friends are amazing improvisers. I love their ability to move around freely in open spaces, and the way they shape and give colour to what I have in mind…”

  • Maciej Obara


Polish alto saxophonist Maciej Obara makes a very striking ECM debut with Unloved, an album whose expressive range embraces tender lyricism and impassioned, fiery, powerful playing. With the exception of the title track, a yearning ballad written by Krzysztof Komeda (spiritus rector of modern jazz in Poland) for Janusz Nasfeter’s film of the same name, the featured pieces originate from Obara’s pen, in a program that he describes as “a very personal statement, about people very dear to me, and places that inspire me.” He also emphasizes, however, that his themes merely “serve as outlines, from which our sound is set free. …It’s more like composing in real time”, with highly engaged input from all gifted members of his group. Each of the four players is a bandleader in his own right; for five years they’ve have been pooling their talents in the half-Polish, half-Norwegian Obara Quartet, and taking their music around the world.


Maciej Obara and pianist Dominik Wania first established their musical rapport inside a Tomasz Stanko ensemble a decade ago, discovering a shared feeling for form and for freedom which is extended in the international quartet with Ole Morten Vågan and Gard Nilssen. Lines of influence radiate in many directions in this band, and all of the players are adept at functioning and thriving in the interstices of the idioms and the zones between the notated and the completely free.


Tomasz Stanko has described Maciej Obara as “a great musician, whose music is powerful, mature, deep, full of charm and beauty. It’s his own.” The distinctiveness of Obara’s sound and approach has been a constant through his work from the outset, and - rather like Stanko before him - he has tested his improvisational capacity on both sides of the Atlantic, collaborating in New York in 2010 with Nasheet Waits, Mark Helias and Ralph Alessi (who praised his “great sensitivity for improvisation of the moment”).  Reviewing the quartet with Wania, Vågan and Nilssen at the Molde Festival, All About Jazz’s John Kelman wrote that “Obara was nothing short of a revelation, an altoist unafraid to try anything, but constantly listening to the music around him in order to find that shared understanding.”


Pianist Dominik Wania graduated from the Krakow Music Academy with an Honors Degree in classical music performance, and won a scholarship to study at the New England Conservatory in Boston. He harnesses a formidable technique in his improvisations – see for instance his thrilling playing on the piece “Echoes” here.  His discography as a leader includes the album Ravel, with his setting of the French composer’s Miroirs for jazz trio.


Bassist Ole Morten Vågan is the artistic director of the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, and was the prime mover and main composer of the band Motif, which gave early exposure to trumpeter Mathias Eick. He can be heard on ECM with Thomas Strønen’s Time Is A Blind Guide. Other affiliations include the band Generator X with Audun Kleive and Christian Wallumrød.


Gard Nilssen is leader of the trio Acoustic Unity with saxophonist André Roligheten and bassist Petter Eldh, and also plays in power-rock/jazz trio Bushman’s Revenge. He has recorded with Mathias Eick for ECM on the album Skala. A former student of Jon Christensen, Nilssen has become one of the most in-demand drummers in Europe, and has worked with many of jazz’s leading figures.  This summer he played in trio with Arild Andersen and Pat Metheny at the Molde International Jazz Festival.


Unloved was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in January 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher. The first international release - and the first studio album - from the group, it follows three concert recordings released on Polish label For Tune: Komeda: Absolutely Live, Live at Manggha, and Live In Minsk Mazowiecki


The album Unloved is launched with a release concert at the Jazztopad Festival in Wroclaw on November 17, followed by club and festival dates in Germany, Spain, Norway and Poland.

For more details consult the tour pages at and Maciej Obara’s web site:


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Django Bates’ Belovèd

The Study of Touch


Django Bates: piano

Petter Eldh: double bass

Peter Bruun: drums


U.S. Release date: November 3, 2017

ECM 2534


UPC: 6025 573 2663 5                         


“One of jazz’s great piano trios”

-          The Guardian


Django Bates is a major presence in ECM’s schedule this season. He is featured on Tunisian oud master Anouar Brahem’s new trans-idiomatic international quartet on the album Blue Maqams, alongside Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette. Now comes Django’s own leader date with the trio Belovèd, in which the British keyboardist/composer/arranger addresses his first love, the piano.


Bates, who once vowed never to front a piano trio on grounds that there were enough in the world, found his resolve weakening in 2005 when he began teaching at Copenhagen’s Rhythmic Music Academy. “I was walking along its corridors when I heard a drummer and a bass player playing in an ensemble in one of the practice rooms, and thought ‘If I ever changed my mind about piano trios I’d definitely want to use those two guys’”. Before long, the idea became irresistible, and Bates, bassist Petter Eldh and drummer Peter Bruun met to play together on a weekly basis. “We did that for a whole year, just improvising, and it was fantastic.” In response to a commission from Copenhagen Jazz House, Bates then wrote arrangements of music by or associated with Charlie Parker, one of his earliest heroes, and recorded them with Eldh and Bruun for an album called Belovèd Bird, issued on Django’s own Lost Marble label. “It was incredible to me how quickly we could learn written music together, after all the free playing: I’d never experienced that process in that way.” Imaginative arrangements of Parker began to alternate with Django’s own tunes in the repertoire of Belovèd, as the trio was now known, “to see how the two composers would play with each other.” On The Study of Touch, recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio and produced by Manfred Eicher, the band’s origins are acknowledged with a single Parker miniature, an incisively realized version of Bird’s tune “Passport”. Almost all of the rest of the program is from Django’s pen: “It felt like it was time to let Parker go, and to go back to being the composer in the band myself.”


The new album, Bates explains, is shaped around its title tune. “The Study of Touch had been performed a lot, in many different contexts [including a premiere at The Proms at the Royal Albert Hall] and I really wanted to document it. And it also seemed a good name for an album, so we started to build pieces around it to tell a story. And they could be old pieces or newer pieces, it didn’t really matter to me, because our music is always changing and evolving.”


The first new piece created for this set was “Slippage Street”, written to “counterbalance the beauty of The Study of Touch”: it was composed “picturing the trio in Rainbow Studio with Manfred as our audience. I really wrote it for him to listen to,” says Bates.


The album opens, however, with an older composition, “Sadness All The Way Down” which “starts at the very top of the keyboard and works its way down to the very bottom, but with a lot of subtlety in the journey.” It’s a piece that gives notice of the special qualities of Belovéd. “I play a lot more in Belovèd than I do in my other projects, which often have a huge density of sound. Nothing is lost, nothing is hidden in the trio. Everything I play has a space to have a meaning.” His cohorts help to shape that space in their own, idiosyncratic ways, Eldh with his polyrhythmic approach to the bass, Bruun with his almost painterly sense for coloration. These are highly original players. “What Petter and Peter bring to this music of mine is a refusal to play what I’ve written. It’s difficult for a composer to learn that this can be the best way, and hard to explain why it works. I write very detailed music, there’s no lack of detail, and I have my dream sound in mind. Then these guys, each of them, adds at least one other layer of their own. And they bring their own personalities to the music, and then it really takes off…” As the BBC Music Magazinehas written: “The rhythm section of Bruun and Eldh does a staggering job of matching and anticipating Bates’ synaptic-fast soliloquies.”


The music is in movement throughout, all the way to its concluding piece, “Happiness All The Way Up” which swiftly bubbles out of the piano’s deep regions and leaps beyond the top notes with what Django describes as “a kind of pentatonic harp sound”, ending the album in an optimistic spirit.


Django Bates has credited the variety of musical influences in his work to his childhood, his father being a collector of jazz, African, and Romanian folk music. A founder member of the collective Loose Tubes, his bands have included Human Chain, Delightful Precipice, and stoRMChaser. Bates has also appeared alongside Bill Bruford, Dudu Pukwana, Wynton Marsalis, Michael Brecker, Tim Berne, and Ronnie Scott. He has written for The Dutch Metropole Orchestra, The Brodsky Quartet, Joanna MacGregor, Britten Sinfonia, Royal Shakespeare Company, the Duisburg Philharmonic, the Norrbotten Big Band, and many others. Django made his ECM debut in 1985 with the band First House, and in the early 1990s recorded with Sidsel Endresen’s group, appearing on the albums So I Write and Exile. Bates was appointed Denmark’s first professor of rhythmic music at Rhythmic Music Conservatory in Copenhagen, Denmark, a position he held until 2011 when he left to take up a position as professor of jazz at the Berne University of the Arts in Switzerland.


Peter Bruun began playing drums at age three at Rythmic Childrens School in Vesterbro in Copenhagen, gateway to “a life-long immersion into drums, music and composition”. At 18 he entered Copenhagen’s Rhythmic Music Academy, discontinuing his formal musical education after three years to study on his own while travelling through India and Brazil. In addition to his work with Belovéd, Bruun plays in a number of other bands including All Too Human, with Marc Ducret, Kasper Tranberg and Simon Toldam, and the Samuel Blaser Trio.


Swedish-born bassist Petter Eldh started his musical life as guitarist, switching to double bass in his early teens. As with Django Bates, it was the music of Charlie Parker which sparked his interest in jazz. He currently plays across a broad range of contemporary jazz and free improvising contexts including the group Enemy with Kit Downes and James Maddren, Speak Low with Lucia Cadotsch and Otis Sandsjö, Amok Amor with Peter Evans, Gard Nilssen’s Acoustic Unity and more.

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This international collective led by Norwegian keyboardist-composer-arranger Jon Balke, released its ECM debut in 2009 (“a contemporary masterpiece” – allaboutjazzcom) and is now back, rallying powerful instrumental forces behind a new lead singer deeply rooted in Arab music traditions. Perceived correspondences between Arabic music, Andalusian classical and European baroque music fired Jon Balke’s imagination when he started this project a decade ago. Siwan is a contemporary creation, delivered by an alliance of strongly individual players.

2572 X

Mona Boutchebak vocals; Jon Balke keyboards; Derya Turkan kemençe; 
Helge Norbakken percussion; Pedram Khavar Zamini: tumbak; 
Bjarte Eike violin, leader; Alison Luthmers violin; Øivind Nussle violin; 
Milos Valent viola; Per Buhre viola: Torbjørn Köhl viola; 
Judith Maria Blomsterberg cello; Mime Brinkmann cello; 
Johannes Lundberg bass

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© 2017 ECM | ECM Records USA | 1755 Broadway, 3rd floor | New York NY 10011

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