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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.

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Pelagos

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.

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Unloved

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…”

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Provenance

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

Unloved

 

Maciej Obara: alto saxophone

Dominik Wania: piano

Ole Morten Vågan double bass

Gard Nilssen drums

 

ECM 2573                            

B0027525-02

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 www.ecmrecords.com and Maciej Obara’s web site: www.maciejobara.com

 

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ECM

 

 

 

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

B0027523-02                                  

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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balke NEWS-BANNR2
 

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; 
Barokksolistene: 
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

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

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Jon Balke

Siwan

Nahnou Houm

 

Mona Boutchebak: vocals

Derya Turkan: kemençe

Helge Norbakken: percussion

Pedram Khavar Zamini: tumbak

Jon Balke: keyboards

 

Barokksolistene:

Bjarte Eike, Alison Luthmers, Øivind Nussle: violin

Milos Valent, Per Buhre, Torbjørn Köhl: viola

Judith Maria Blomsterberg, Mime Brinkmann: violoncello

Johannes Lundberg: double bass

 

U.S. Release date: November 17, 2017

ECM 2572

B0027528-02

UPC: 6025 578 9560 5

 

 

Siwan’s self-titled ECM debut, released in 2009, was widely praised by the world’s press, and won awards including the album-of-the-year prize of the German record critics (“Jahrespreis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik”). Now the international collective led by Norwegian keyboardist-composer-arranger Jon Balke is back, rallying its powerful instrumental forces around a new singer and oud player, Mona Boutchebak, in a revised line-up.  The ensemble’s new album Nahnou Houm was recorded in Copenhagen in January 2017.

 

Nahnou Houm translates as “We are them”, a message of topical pertinence, in this case trailing deep historical roots. When he started this project a decade ago – in response to a commission from the multicultural Oslo venue Cosmopolite  Jon Balke’s imagination was fired by perceived correspondences between Arabic music, Andalusian classical music and European baroque music. To bring these sound-worlds closer together, he set poetry of Al Andalus, reflecting upon a period of cooperation in Medieval Spain between adherents of the three monotheistic Abrahamic religions: Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

 

In his liner notes for Nahnou Houm, Balke writes that Siwan began with “just a musical fascination with the promising aspects of the Andalusian culture, with its huge libraries, enormous progress in science, agriculture, architecture and art.” But the project went on to consider “the devastating effect of the Inquisition, with its burning of all the literature and documentation it could find. Everything on paper was destroyed, but oral communication could not be controlled. Musicians travel and play, and faint threads leading from Spain to Napoli with the survival of forms like chaconne, folia, passacaglia etc. were central in the development of the new baroque music.”

 

These thoughts led to “speculation about an imaginary musical history, as well as a political imagination: How would Europe and the rest of the world have developed if the three religions had managed to co-exist in the aftermath of Al Andalus? By pointing at periods where coexistence actually happened and pushed humanity forward and by being in itself a multi-cultural functioning microcosmos, Siwan wants to investigate the idea of ‘convivencia’, as it was called, in all aspects of human life.”

 

On the first album and on early tours, Siwan featured the vocals of Amina Alaoui, the Moroccan-born singer steeped in the Garnathi tradition of Andalusian classical music. Later Balke invited distinguished guests including Tunisian singer Lamia Bedioui and Palestinian singer Kamilya Jubran.  The challenge was to find a singer with a deep sense of Arab music history but also open to improvisation and trans-idiomatic possibilities; the search was on for a vocalist both experimentally-inclined and tradition-conscious.

 

“Siwan was actually put in waiting mode for a while”, Balke explains, “precisely because we could not find a new vocalist with Andalusian background who could assimilate my material and work in a more contemporary setting. It was [original Siwan violin soloist] Kheir Eddine M´Kachiche who proposed Mona, who actually is from his neighbourhood in Bab el Oued in Algiers. I invited Mona in and she immediately clicked with the group, both professionally and personally. She is a very versatile musician with a great voice that fits the group really well. And she speaks Arabic, French, Spanish and English…”

 

On Nahnou Houm Mona has a wonderful range of poetry to sing, with words from Persian Sufi mystic Attar, from St John of the Cross, from the great Spanish poet-playwright Lope de Vega and more. The interplay of texts, like the interplay of musical ideas, reinforces Balke’s utopian artistic vision, as if these authors from strikingly different backgrounds are shaping lyrical variations of the same yearning ballad.

 

Jon Balke sums up the group’s musical evolution: “Siwan has been an important project for me, both because of the statement that the group in itself makes, by manifesting the spirit of coexistence across boundaries of any kind, but also because the soundscape is a palette of rich colours spanning from deep electronics to gut strings and bright vocals and cembalo, that is very stimulating to work with as a composer. Where the first Siwan was composed in deep respect of the traditions and the soloists, treading lightly and carefully in a landscape of strong leads, the current version is a real band, a group that really communicates freely and unhindered. Even though all the musicians are masters in their traditions, in Siwan they join a unified sound and concept that has departed from references and is becoming a tradition in itself. The introduction of [Turkish kemençe player] Derya Türkan and the line towards the Far East is also a great new opening.”

 

Siwan launches Nahnou Houm with a performance at the World Music Festival in Oslo on November 4, followed by concerts in Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. 

For more information about Siwan and related projects visit Jon Balke’s Magnetic Music web site: www.magnetic.no

 

 

CD booklet includes liner notes by Jon Balke, and all song texts

in English translation.

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Brahem MIMI.PRESSround2
 

Anouar Brahem oud | Dave Holland double bass 
Jack DeJohnette drums, percussion | Django Bates piano

“Blue Maqams ..will not only go down as one of the year's best ECM releases; it's a classic-in-the-making that should ultimately be considered one of the label's very best recordings in its nearly fifty-year history.” –John Kelman, allaboutjazzcom

“… a program that features traditional music from Arab culture as well as more modern jazz elements. Each musician shines here. Holland uncorks a sturdy solo on “Bom Dia Rio,” a composition dating back to 1990. DeJohnette masterfully uses his cymbals as the main percussive voice on much of “Unexpected Outcome” and on parts of “La Nuit.” Bates’ beautiful playing on “The Recovered Road To Al-Sham” will certainly win him new fans and send them searching for his leader albums.” –Bobby Reed, DownBeat (Editor’s Choice)

“Blue Maqams is lovely. It's a nearly perfect illustration of balance between cultural and musical inquiry, underscored by the confidence and near symbiotic communication of this gifted ensemble. This is an exceptional outing, even for an artist as accomplished and creative as Brahem. “ –Thom Jurek, All Music

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4Kh985eJGU

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Blue Maqams is a very special recording indeed.

Thanks for continuing to post these even if US/UK release dates differ it's still useful to see what's in the offing

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15 hours ago, mjazzg said:

Blue Maqams is a very special recording indeed.

Thanks for continuing to post these even if US/UK release dates differ it's still useful to see what's in the offing

It is indeed very good!

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ECM is now on Spotify.

Not sure if old news but i just found out recently so for others that might not know. I haven't done any exploration to see if it's the full catalogue or whatever but Vijay Iyer's new one for example is there. 

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1 hour ago, xybert said:

ECM is now on Spotify.

Not sure if old news but i just found out recently so for others that might not know. I haven't done any exploration to see if it's the full catalogue or whatever but Vijay Iyer's new one for example is there. 

Rather: ECM is back on Spotify and others after a 10 year commercial break. In the early days of streaming, they were available there just like the rest of the Universal catalogue....

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new-on-ECM-bnnr

 

BALKE

 

Jon Balke 
Siwan 
Nahnou Houm

Mona Boutchebak vocals; Jon Balke keyboards; Derya Turkan kemençe; Helge Norbakkenpercussion; Pedram Khavar Zamini tumbak; Ensemble Barokksolistene

Siwan is a contemporary creation, delivered by an alliance of strongly individual players, fronted by a vocalist deeply rooted in Arab music traditions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balke-PLAY

 

***

 

BATES

 

Django Bates’ Belovèd 
The 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, the trio Belovèd, comprising highly individual players who subtly challenge the conventions of the jazz piano trio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bates-PLAY

 

***

 

OBARA

 

Maciej Obara Quartet 
Unloved

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obara-PLAY

 

email instagram twitter facebook_custom youtube_custom

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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14.11.2017
PRESS RELEASE: ECM AND STREAMING
Over the past week we have begun the process of entering the world of streaming, and from November 17th, the full ECM catalogue will be available to subscribers to services including Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, Deezer, Tidal and Qobuz. This simultaneous launch across the platforms – facilitated by a new digital distribution agreement with Universal Music – invites listeners to explore the wide range of music recorded by our artists in the course of nearly five decades of independent production.
 
Although ECM’s preferred mediums remain the CD and LP, the first priority is that the music should be heard. The physical catalogue and the original authorship are the crucial references for us: the complete ECM album with its artistic signature, best possible sound quality, sequence and dramaturgy intact, telling its story from beginning to end.
 
In recent years, ECM and the musicians have had to face unauthorized streaming of recordings via video sharing websites, plus piracy, bootlegs, and a proliferation of illegal download sites. It was important to make the catalogue accessible within a framework where copyrights are respected.
 
 
 
ECM Press Office
Munich, November 14, 2017   

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ECMNEWSERIESbannr
 
maderna

Bruno Maderna/Luciano Berio 
Five Transcriptions for Orchestra / Chemins V 
Now, And Then

Orchestra della Svizzera italiana / Dennis Russell Davies, conductor / Pablo Marquez, guitar

Unlike many of his radical new music colleagues, Bruno Maderna (1920-1973) had a great affection for older music, especially that of the Italian Renaissance and Early Baroque eras. But his transcriptions had little to do with the orthodoxy of so-called ‘historically informed’ interpretation. In the belief that works of art can be removed from their original contexts, he used contemporary instrumental resources to discover new meaning and a new validity in the works of old masters. His transcriptions of Gabrieli, Frescobaldi, Legrenzi and Viadana are vividly conveyed by the RSI Orchestra under Dennis Russell Davies in a program which includes Chemins V by Maderna’s good friend Luciano Berio (1925-2003). Chemins V is itself a transcription of sorts, a chamber orchestra version of Berio’s Sequenza XI. Soloist Pablo Marquez references flamenco and the guitar’s classical heritage, while the orchestra engages with the guitar on levels of expanded harmony. Dialogue develops, as Berio said, “through multiple forms of interaction, from the most unanimous to the most conflictual and estranged.”

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schiff

Yuuko Shiokawa/András Schiff 
Bach, Busoni, Beethoven

Yuuko Shiokawa, violin; András Schiff, piano

Yuuko Shiokawa and András Schiff are heard here in an insightful – and delightful - program of sonatas for violin and piano which begins with Bach’s Sonata No.3 in E major, ends with Beethoven’s Sonata No.10 in G major, and has at its center Busoni’s Sonata No. 2 in E minor. No other 20th century composer was as deeply steeped in the music of Bach as Ferruccio Busoni, and his second sonata, published in 1901, is indebted to both Bach and Beethoven. Its form makes references to Beethoven’s late sonatas, and the final movement incorporates as its variation theme Bach’s chorale “Wie wohl ist mir”. As on their earlier and widely-admired duo recording for ECM (featuring Schubert Fantasies), Shiokawa and Schiff play the music with absolute authority and deep understanding. Their Bach-Busoni-Beethoven program was recorded in Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in December 2016, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

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demenga

Thomas Demenga 
Johann Sebastian Bach - Suiten für Violoncello

Thomas Demenga, violoncello

Swiss cellist Thomas Demenga returns to Bach’s suites. “To me, Bach is the greatest musical genius who has ever lived. His music is pure, sublime. It possesses something divine and each musician has a lifetime in which to discover new ways of interpreting it.” Demenga previously recorded the cello suites for ECM between 1986 and 2002, juxtaposing them with contemporary composition in albums that count as milestones in the early history of the New Series. This new double album however is devoted entirely to Bach and the six suites. Many years of playing and studying every aspect of them, from source manuscripts to different tempos, embellishments, fingerings and bowings, have brought Demenga to the heart of the music – which Bach himself described as the only goal.

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komitas

Komitas 
Seven Songs

Lusine Grigoryan, piano

Complete in itself, this solo piano album by Lusine Grigoryan can also be considered a companion volume to the Gurdjieff Ensemble’s critically-acclaimed album of Komitas’s music. It was recorded at the same 2015 session in Lugano, directed by Manfred Eicher, and has some overlapping of repertoire. Where Levon Eskenian’s versions with the Gurdjieff Ensemble explored the composer’s sonic inspirations with folk instruments, Lusine Grigoryan conveys some of the same colors with her wide palette of piano articulation and her exploration of timbral possibilities: in her playing one can catch the flavor of the duduk, the tar, the zurna et cetera, as Komitas intended. As Levon Eskenian has noted, Grigoryan “conveys the mysterious presence typical of rustic and ritual music.” Pieces heard on this recording, the ECM debut of Lusine Grigoryan, include Komitas’s Seven Songs, Seven Dances, Pieces for Children, and Msho Shoror.

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

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The ECM catalog, now available to subscribers across major streaming services, is causing a great stir of excitement as evidenced by these three articles you can click to here:

timesBLUE
NYkerBLUE
pitchBLUE

Re-explore the catalog yourself and/or send young, curious listeners to their favorite platform to discover the label’s gems for themselves or to check out curated playlists!

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

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maderna

Bruno Maderna/Luciano Berio 
Five Transcriptions for Orchestra / Chemins V 
Now, And Then

Orchestra della Svizzera italiana / Dennis Russell Davies, conductor / Pablo Marquez, guitar

Unlike many of his radical new music colleagues, Bruno Maderna (1920-1973) had a great affection for older music, especially that of the Italian Renaissance and Early Baroque eras. But his transcriptions had little to do with the orthodoxy of so-called ‘historically informed’ interpretation. In the belief that works of art can be removed from their original contexts, he used contemporary instrumental resources to discover new meaning and a new validity in the works of old masters. His transcriptions of Gabrieli, Frescobaldi, Legrenzi and Viadana are vividly conveyed by the RSI Orchestra under Dennis Russell Davies in a program which includes Chemins V by Maderna’s good friend Luciano Berio (1925-2003). Chemins V is itself a transcription of sorts, a chamber orchestra version of Berio’s Sequenza XI. Soloist Pablo Marquez references flamenco and the guitar’s classical heritage, while the orchestra engages with the guitar on levels of expanded harmony. Dialogue develops, as Berio said, “through multiple forms of interaction, from the most unanimous to the most conflictual and estranged.”

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schiff

Yuuko Shiokawa/András Schiff 
Bach, Busoni, Beethoven

Yuuko Shiokawa, violin; András Schiff, piano

Yuuko Shiokawa and András Schiff are heard here in an insightful – and delightful - program of sonatas for violin and piano which begins with Bach’s Sonata No.3 in E major, ends with Beethoven’s Sonata No.10 in G major, and has at its center Busoni’s Sonata No. 2 in E minor. No other 20th century composer was as deeply steeped in the music of Bach as Ferruccio Busoni, and his second sonata, published in 1901, is indebted to both Bach and Beethoven. Its form makes references to Beethoven’s late sonatas, and the final movement incorporates as its variation theme Bach’s chorale “Wie wohl ist mir”. As on their earlier and widely-admired duo recording for ECM (featuring Schubert Fantasies), Shiokawa and Schiff play the music with absolute authority and deep understanding. Their Bach-Busoni-Beethoven program was recorded in Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in December 2016, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

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demenga

Thomas Demenga 
Johann Sebastian Bach - Suiten für Violoncello

Thomas Demenga, violoncello

Swiss cellist Thomas Demenga returns to Bach’s suites. “To me, Bach is the greatest musical genius who has ever lived. His music is pure, sublime. It possesses something divine and each musician has a lifetime in which to discover new ways of interpreting it.” Demenga previously recorded the cello suites for ECM between 1986 and 2002, juxtaposing them with contemporary composition in albums that count as milestones in the early history of the New Series. This new double album however is devoted entirely to Bach and the six suites. Many years of playing and studying every aspect of them, from source manuscripts to different tempos, embellishments, fingerings and bowings, have brought Demenga to the heart of the music – which Bach himself described as the only goal.

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

Edited by GA Russell

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BATES TOPanimGREEN
 

British pianist/composer Django Bates has returned to ECM in force with two notable recordings. He made his leader label debut on an aptly named album, The Study of Touch (featuring the trio Belovèd with Swedish bassist Petter Eldh and Danish drummer Peter Bruun) and he rose superbly to the challenge of Anouar Brahem’s compositions on the Tunisian oud-master’s Blue Maqams (with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette). These two albums evidence Bates as a skilful composer and arranger and masterful player, for which he has garnered superlative reviews on both sides of the Atlantic!

BELOV
MAQ

“The Study of Touch journeys eloquently from impressionist balladry and bucolic reverie to florid harmonic development and counterpoint swing. Bates leads gently, merging with the delicate chemistry between Eldh’s lines and Bruun’s swishes and taps while displaying a compositional grasp of form.” 
- Mike Hobart, Financial Times

“Bates has his own individual voice and this has undoubtedly been greatly aided by his participation in so many disparate musical projects. Bates’ own compositional talents are wonderfully showcased here.” 
– Tim Stenhouse, UK Vibe

“…Not only did Brahem find the perfect collaborator in Bates, he assembled a program of all original compositions that showcases the pianist’s gorgeous touch, with some passages featuring solo piano, as well as duo sections that highlight subtle, intelligent conversations between oud and piano." 
- Bobby Reed, Downbeat Editor’s Choice

“Bates is the real wild card of the session, his beautiful, imaginative playing illuminating Brahem's compositions at every turn.” 
- Mark Sullivan, allaboutjazz

“Bates defies his reputation as a playful maverick to conjure thoughtful, spare lines that elegantly complement the virtuosity of Brahem.” 
- John Bunger, The Times

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

ECM RECEIVES SEVEN GRAMMY NOMINATIONS!

  

ECM and its artists are nominated for seven Grammy Awards as announce this morning by The Recording Academy. The nominations span the label’s unique work in recording both contemporary composition and jazz.

 

Nominations go to Armenian composer Tigran Mansurian, Hungarian composer György Kurtág, British composer Gavin Bryars, and producer Manfred Eicher in the classical categories, and to US jazz reedman/composer Chris Potter in jazz.

 

Chris Potter’s The Dreamer Is The Dream, introducing his fiery new quartet with David Virelles, Joe Martin and Marcus Gilmore, is nominated as Jazz Album of the Year. Potter also has a nomination for Best Improvised Jazz Solo for his tenor sax playing on “Ilimba” on the same album.

 

ECM has long-championed the work of Tigran Mansurian whose moving Requiem, dedicated to the memory of victims of the Armenian Genocide, and performed by the Munich Chamber Orchestra and the RIAS Choir Berlin, receives two nominations as Best Contemporary Classical Composition and Best Choral Performance.

 

The Academy acknowledges Gavin Bryars for the first time with a nomination for The Fifth Century, with his settings of Thomas Traherne for the choir The Crossing, in the category Best Choral Performance.

 

György Kurtág’s 3 CD set Complete Works for Ensemble and Choir, definitively performed by the Asko/Schoenberg Ensemble and the Netherlands Radio Choir under the direction of Reinbert de Leeuw, is nominated as Best Classical Compendium.

 

And Manfred Eicher receives his 12th nomination as Classical Producer of the Year, winning the award in 2002.  This year’s citation references his productions of Tigran Mansurian’s Requiem, Valentin Silvestrov’s Hieroglyphen der Nacht (with Anja Lechner and Agnès Vesterman), Momo Kodama’s  Point and Line – Debussy and Hosokawa,  Meredith Monk’s  On Behalf of Nature, and Rímur by the Trio Mediaeval with Arve Henriksen.

 

Winners will be announced at the 60th Grammy Awards ceremony in New York City on January 28, 2018.

 
 
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tigran

RIAS Chamber Choir / Munich Chamber Orchestra 
Alexander Liebreich, conductor

ECM has long-championed the work of Tigran Mansurian whose moving Requiem, dedicated to the memory of victims of the Armenian Genocide, and performed by the Munich Chamber Orchestra and the RIAS Chamber Choir, receives two Grammy nominations as Best Contemporary Classical Composition and Best Choral Performance. Requiem - a milestone for Mansurian, widely acknowledged as Armenia’s greatest composer - reconciles the sound and sensibility of his country’s traditions with the Latin Requiem text in a profoundly moving contemporary composition. The Los Angeles Times has described Mansurian’s music as that “in which deep cultural pain is quieted through an eerily calm, heart-wrenching beauty.”

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komitas

Lusine Grigoryan: piano

Complete in itself, this solo piano album by Lusine Grigoryan can also be considered a companion volume to the Gurdjieff Ensemble’s critically-acclaimed album of Komitas’s music. It was recorded at the same 2015 session in Lugano, directed by Manfred Eicher, and has some overlapping of repertoire. Where Levon Eskenian’s versions with the Gurdjieff Ensemble explored the composer’s sonic inspirations with folk instruments, Lusine Grigoryan conveys some of the same colors with her wide palette of piano articulation and her exploration of timbral possibilities: in her playing one can catch the flavor of the duduk, the tar, the zurna et cetera, as Komitas intended. As Levon Eskenian has noted, Grigoryan “conveys the mysterious presence typical of rustic and ritual music.” Pieces heard on this recording, the ECM debut of Lusine Grigoryan, include Komitas’s Seven Songs, Seven Dances, Pieces for Children, and Msho Shoror.

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

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VINYL-BANNER NO-CVRS3
 

ECM VINYL: THE PERFECT HOLIDAY GIFT!

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

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bobo

Bobo Stenson Trio Contra la indecisión

Bobo Stenson piano | Anders Jormin double bass | Jon Fält drums

A decisively beautiful new album on which the great Swedish trio of Bobo Stenson draws upon a wide range of source materials So strong is the group’s character and the musical identity of each of its members that the integration of this material always feels organic and logical. Stenson’s lyrical touch, Jormin’s folk-flavored arco bass and Jon Fält’s flickering, textural drumming are all well-displayed on Contra la indecisión, the trio’s first new recording in six years.

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surman

John Surman Invisible Threads

John Surman saxophones, bass clarinet 
Nelson Ayres piano | Rob Waring vibraphone, marimba

Saxophonist and clarinettist John Surman is often characterized as a quintessentially English improviser and composer, and hints of folk music and a pastoral ambience are well-loved attributes of his music. Yet he also has a long history of working with musicians from other countries and cultures, players united by such invisible threads as a shared feeling for melody that transcends the idioms.

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stronen

Thomas Strønen / Time Is A Blind Guide Lucus

Ayumi Tanaka piano | Håkon Aase violin | Lucy Railton violoncello 
Ole Morten Vågan double bass | Thomas Strønen drums, percussion

Norwegian drummer/composer Thomas Strønen presents a revised edition of his acoustic collective Time Is A Blind Guide, now trimmed to quintet size, and with a new pianis. in Wakayama-born Ayumi Tanaka. Tanaka has spoken of seeking associative connections between Japan and Norway in her improvising, a tendency Strønen seems to be encouraging with his space-conscious writing for the ensemble, letting in more light. As on the group’s eponymously-titled and critically-lauded debut album there are excellent contributions from the string players – the quintet effectively contains both a string trio and a piano trio – and Manfred Eicher’s production brings out all the fine detail in the grain of the collective sound and the halo of its overtones, captured in the famously-responsive acoustic of Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in March 2017.

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downes

Kit Downes Obsidian

Kit Downes church organs 
with Tom Challenger tenor saxophone

Kit Downes’s previous ECM appearance was as pianist on the debut recording of Time Is A Blind Guide in 2015 and he’s critically-regarded as one of the UK’s outstanding young jazz talents. In reviewing a recent concert of this material, critic John Marley of Jazz Views conjured the following: “Imagine that you are stranded in an alien and hostile environment. The sound you hear is constant, yet ever changing. It evolves, creeps, terrifies and fascinates. A slow rumble resonates through the air like the mechanical revolutions of a distant engine. Organic sounds emanate from the church organ. Kit Downes patiently manipulates the instrument to draw out a succession of pules accelerating frequencies and violent distortions. Brisk forays across the keyboard come and go. The notes run across your path like a creature, so quick they are almost unidentifiable….Hypnotic…”

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

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ECM

 

 

 

John Surman

Invisible Threads

 

John Surman: baritone and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet

Nelson Ayres: piano

Rob Waring: vibraphone, marimba

 

U.S. Release date: January 19, 2018

ECM 2588                               

B0027869-02

UPC: 6025 671 1317 1                      

 

The great British saxophonist and clarinettist John Surman introduces a fascinating new trio with Brazilian pianist Nelson Ayres and US vibraphonist Rob Waring, and a program of engaging compositions whose evocative themes invite subtle instrumental interaction. The story of the project really begins a decade ago, when Surman was playing with Jack DeJohnette’s Ripple Effect group. The rapport between Surman and singer Marlui Miranda in that ensemble led to an invitation to visit her Brazilian homeland, and to participate in a recording inspired by the songs of the Juruna people of the Amazon Basin. Out of this collaboration came the first meetings with pianist Nelson Ayres.

 

Ayres is highly regarded in Brazil as an arranger, composer and soloist, and he has worked with Airto Moreira, Milton Nascimento, Chico Buarque, César Camargo Mariano, Astrud Gilberto amongst many others, as well as visitors from Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Carter to Anat Cohen. Ayres led his own big band through the 1970s and into the 1980s, and in the early 1990s became conductor and artistic director of the Orquestra Jazz Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, bringing a Brazilian orchestral aesthetic to bear on contemporary music, often with jazz soloists. He is perhaps best known for his work with the group Pau Brasil.

 

The experience of playing together, both live and on Marlui Miranda’s album Fala de Bicho, Fala de Gente, left both Surman and Ayres with a wish to do more, and John began drafting material, initially for a duo album. “But almost as soon as I began writing I was hearing a third musical voice in my mind.” That third voice was to be Rob Waring, the New York born mallet percussionist who, like Surman himself, is now a resident of Norway.

 

Last heard on ECM with Mats Eilertsen on the album Rubicon, Rob Waring has been based in Oslo since 1981. His work spans a broad spectrum of musical approaches and styles. He studied classical percussion at the Juilliard School, and has played jazz improvised music in many forms. In 2002 he studied music in Bali, an experience which has been source of inspiration for his own music. Waring was a member of the experimental jazz band Søyr from 1986 to 2006 and has performed and recorded with David Friedman, Jon Eberson, Misha Alperin and many others, and composed commissioned works for soloists, chamber ensembles, jazz

groups and choirs, as well as electroacoustic music.

With his contributing musicians living 10,000 kilometres apart, Surman had little opportunity to road-test his new material: “Nelson and I managed to meet up in São Paulo for a couple of days to try out a few ideas and I later played through some of these ideas with Rob in Oslo. Eventually, a few days before the recording session, Nelson arrived in Oslo and we played together as a trio for the first time. Happily we all felt comfortable playing as a trio immediately - perhaps because we share a wide range of musical interests. Although we all have a background in jazz improvisation, Nelson brings with him a wealth of experience performing Brazilian instrumental music, whilst Rob's work as a classical percussionist and his interest in a broad scope of contemporary music adds yet another colour."

 

Almost all the pieces were created for this album, although “Stoke Damerel”, named for the Plymouth parish where Surman once lived, was in the concert repertoire of John’s duo with organist Howard Moody (the duo can be heard on the album Rain On The Window.) Two pieces emerged in the course of the session: “After we’d finished playing the tune called ‘Byndweed’, there was a feeling that there was something more to be explored in its harmonic content. We were looking at that, and Manfred suggested we make some sort of chorale out its harmonies. So the piece which is called ‘At First Sight’ grew out of that idea, and so did ‘Another Reflection’…”

 

***

 

Already by the mid-1960s John Surman (born in Devon in 1944) was one of the most widely celebrated of European jazz musicians. His agile baritone playing with the Mike Westbrook Orchestra, John McLaughlin, and Chris McGregor stunned musicians, critics and listeners alike, and he swept the jazz polls, touring Japan with a Down Beat poll-winners group in 1970. With his own groups he continued to make waves – particularly with The Trio, with Barre Phillips and Stu Martin, a band that set new standards for intense small group interaction. It was with these musicians that Surman would make his debut ECM appearance, on Phillips’s innovative Mountainscapes in 1976.This was soon followed by the Surman solo album Upon Reflectionand thereafter by a sequence of remarkable recordings in many instrumental configurations and formats. These have included duos with Jack DeJohnette, the Brass Project co-led with John Warren, a Nordic Quartet with Karin Krog and Terje Rypdal, collaborations with Paul Bley, large scale works such as Proverbs and Songs (with the Salisbury Festival Chorus) and Free and Equal (with London Brass), and music with the Trans4mation String Quartet and Chris Laurence (Coruscating and The Spaces In Between).

 

John Surman has won numerous awards for his work, including most recently the Ivor Novello Jazz Award 2017, in recognition of his outstanding jazz compositions.

 

***

 

Invisible Threads was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in July 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher. Plans for a 2018 European tour by John Surman, Nelson Ayres and Rob Waring are currently being finalised.

ECM

  

Kit Downes

Obsidian

 

Kit Downes: church organ

with Tom Challenger: tenor saxophone

 

Release date: January 19, 2018

ECM 2559                           

B0027871-02

UPC:  6025 578 2651 7                     

 

 

Obsidian is the first ECM solo album from Kit Downes. Previously heard as pianist on the debut recording of Thomas Strønen’s group Time Is A Blind Guide in 2015, Downes (born 1986 in Norwich, UK) is widely-regarded as one of the outstanding British jazz players of his generation, through his work with his trio and with groups such as Troyka, the Golden Age of Steam and Enemy, as well as long running collaborations with Stan Sulzmann and Clark Tracey. The present recording, however, has little overt connection to “jazz” – although it could only have been made by an improviser of subtle sensibilities, and wide-ranging musical knowledge. It features Downes on church organ, exploring the idiosyncrasies of three different instruments.

 

First, we hear the grand three-manual organ of London’s Union Chapel, built by Henry Willis in 1877, the size and the scale of the instrument immediately apparent on opening track “Kings”. Later, the scene shifts to the Suffolk countryside with a two-manual organ at the ancient church of St John’s in Snape, and finally a single manual instrument with no pedalboard, basically a converted harmonium, at St Edmund’s Church in Bromeswell. Small or large, the instruments have their distinct characteristics, imaginatively emphasized in the music Downes has created for each of them, “giving a push and pull to the recording, in terms of dynamic and size.”

 

Some of Downes’s earliest musical experiences were with the pipe organ and in recent years he has been revisiting it, encouraged by saxophonist Tom Challenger who appears as guest on one track here (“Modern Gods”). Downes’s and Challenger’s earlier improvisational project Vyamanikal found them making an exploratory journey around England’s churches, which helped establish a familiarity with some of the instruments heard here.

 

I started writing with the idea of getting these organs from different parts of the UK speaking to each other. All built at different times, with different stops and different sounds. It feels like time-travelling, somehow trying to find a common thread.”

 

With the exception of the well-travelled traditional tune “Black Is The Colour” (of Scottish origin, it found a new home in the Appalachians, and in the early 1960s was famously adapted by Berio for his Folk Songs collection), and the final track “The Gift” – based on a composition by Kit’s father – all music here is by Downes. It has been created in diverse ways. Some pieces, including “Seeing Things”, are purely improvised. “Rings of Saturn” is a composite of several improvisations recorded at the Snape church. For other pieces improvisation suggested a direction to be followed further. “I would jot down elements that I found particularly interesting, then start to fill in the cracks between the abstract ideas to make fuller pieces.”

 

Obsidian is also a reflection upon other traditions of improvising associated with the organ, and Kit speaks with admiration of Messiaen’s work in this context. “The organ is the ultimate orchestrator. What really appeals to me about Messiaen’s improvisations is how he blends the sounds of the instrument to give real form and colour to the performance. You can be both an improviser and an orchestrator in the moment.”

 

Obsidian was recorded in November 2016. A year later, Downes toured with some of its repertoire, performing the music in contexts ranging from the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival to Jazzfest Berlin, and netting many positive reviews:

 

"Of all the concerts I have heard in this space, Downes’s command of the intricacies and expressive potential of that grand and ancient instrument, the pipe organ, were the most impressive", wrote Josef Woodward in Downbeat, reviewing Kit’s concert at the Keiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin.

 

“Some of the greatest moments” of the Huddersfield Festival “were the gentlest,” wrote Guy Dammann in The Spectator, citing the “luminous glow” of Downes’s rendition of “Black Is The Colour”.

 

Kit Downes is currently preparing a new round of solo concerts, and also developing new trio music for church organ, saxophone and guitar.

ECM

 

 

Thomas Strønen

Time Is A Blind Guide

Lucus

 

Ayumi Tanaka: piano

Håkon Aase: violin

Lucy Railton: violoncello

Ole Morten Vågan: double bass

Thomas Strønen: drums, percussion

 

Release date: January 19, 2018

ECM 2576                  

B0027870-02

UPC: 6025 577 9058 0                    

 

Lucus, the second recording from Norwegian drummer/composer Thomas Strønen’s Time Is A Blind Guide, marks a bold step forward from the critically acclaimed debut (described by John Kelman on AllAboutJazz as “a stunning record that stands out as one of Strønen’s most expansive, cinematic and flat-out lyrical albums”). With the group currently trimmed to quintet size, and a new pianist in Wakayama-born Ayumi Tanaka, there is a heightened emphasis on improvisation.

 

“We’ve played much more,” says Strønen, “and built up a trust in the ensemble. All the players have more confidence in the shared expression of the group and, in a positive sense, less dependency on the compositions, which are offered, really, as guidelines. To me it’s important that the players should feel connected to the music and play what’s right for them. When I wrote the music for the first album the sound of the group existed only in my imagination at that point, and there were a lot more notes on paper. But with the repertoire of Lucus, things are opened up. And there is more than one way to interpret these pieces: in concert, something played as a ballad one night might be a piece that simply explodes on the next night.”

 

The music Strønen has written for the ensemble is more space-conscious than last time around, letting in more light, in line with the connotations of the album title, “Lucus” signifying a sacred grove, or a clearing in the forest. The radiant strings seem particularly to bring out this idea. (As it happens, the music was composed in view of the forest, too – Thomas lives out in the Norwegian woodlands).

 

Strønen first heard Ayumi Tanaka a few years ago while teaching at Oslo’s Royal Academy, where he also organised a concert series. “I liked to set challenges for the students and I asked Ayumi to give a solo concert, something she’d never done before. Her performance was just amazing, and I thought immediately that I have to play with her in some setting.” Tanaka substituted for Kit Downes at a few concerts with the first edition of Time Is a Blind Guide. “When she arrived for the first rehearsal she already knew all the material, having learned a dozen complex pieces with tricky time changes and so on by ear, and didn’t need any scores at all.” She was clearly a logical choice to take over the piano chair in the ensemble. Strønen: “I feel a connection between European contemporary music and jazz and Japanese music in the way that she manoeuvres inside the group sound… She can be very abstract in her playing, with a sparse quality I like a lot, and then the next moment full of temperament.” One can perhaps also sense a connection to early Paul Bley in some of Ayumi’s phrases, paraphrases and ellipses. And a further connection to the dawn of new jazz might also be felt in Ole Morten Vågan’s Haden-like bass intro to the piece called “Tension”.

 

But Time Is A Blind Guided is a flexible, mutating ensemble and the quintet effectively contains both a string trio and a piano trio. With Lucus a further dynamic adjustment has taken place, in which cellist Lucy Railton, bassist Ole Morten Vågan and the drummer-leader have drawn closer in the engine room of the ensemble while Tanaka and violinist Håkon Aase, says Strønen, “are fulfilling more of a soloist’s function, on top of what we are doing – at least some of the time.”

 

As on the group’s debut album there are excellent contributions from the string players. The group name Time Is A Blind Guide is taken from Anne Michael’s novel Fugitive Pieces, a connection Strønen underlines with the track of the same title here. The strings here seem to reference both folk music and baroque playing before the piano enters to gently lead the music elsewhere. Manfred Eicher’s production brings out all the fine detail in the grain of the collective sound and the halo of its overtones, captured in the famously-responsive acoustic of Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo in March 2017.

 

Ole Morten Vågan and Håkon Aase have appeared on other ECM recordings recently. Bassist Vågan has been a member of Maciej Obara’s quartet for five years and can be heard on the Polish saxophonist’s ECM debut Unloved. Violinist Håkon Aase plays regularly with trumpeter Mathias Eick’s touring band and is featured on Eick’s new album Ravensburg (release date: March 2018).

 

Thomas Strønen has been an ECM recording artist since 2005 when the label released his album Parish, with Bobo Stenson, Fredrik Ljungkvist and Mats Eilertsen. It was followed by recordings with Food, Strønen’s duo-plus-guests project with Iain Ballamy. Food’s discs include Quiet Inlet, Mercurial Balm and This Is Not A Miracle.

ECM

 

 

 

Bobo Stenson Trio

Contra la indecisión

 

 

Bobo Stenson: piano

Anders Jormin: double bass

Jon Fält: drums

 

Release date: January 19, 2018

ECM 2582                            

B0027868-02

UPC: 6025 578 6976 7              

 

 

“A strong case can be made that Bobo Stenson is the greatest living jazz pianist born outside the United States. He is a poet of the first order. Stenson’s spontaneous melodic and harmonic discoveries, his trajectories and distant departures, arrive at a breakthrough to lyricism that, once found, sounds like it has always been there.”

      – Thomas Conrad, Jazz Times

 

 

Bobo Stenson’s trio takes a stand against indecision on this decisively beautiful new album. Characteristic elements including Stenson’s lyrical touch, Jormin’s folk-flavored arco bass and Jon Fält’s flickering, textural drumming are all well-displayed on Contra la indecisión, the trio’s first new recording in six years. As ever, the group draws upon a wide range of source materials. A yearning title song by Cuban singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez, Bartók’s adaptation of a Slovak folk song, a piece from Mompou’s Cançons I Danses collection, and Erik Satie’s Elégie all fit into the program, alongside original compositions and group improvising. So strong is the group’s character and the musical identity of each of its members that the assimilation of this material always seems organic and logical. As Ben Ratliff wrote in the New York Times, “In Stenson’s records you don’t hear strategies or contentions, but a natural working flow.”

 

With Stenson, the respectful transformation of the source material is the essential thing. Unlike colleague Anders Jormin, who has five new pieces here, he’s not an especially prolific composer – although his rare tunes, like “Alice” here are worth waiting for – but he brings his own sensibilities to everything played. “We pick things from different areas,” Stenson once explained to All About Jazz. “It doesn’t matter so much where it comes from. For us, it’s more about what we do with it. You try to be true to the original, and you try to take it a little further.”

 

Pieces this time around have come from various contexts. “The Bartók piece was one we’d played together with a choir a few years ago,” says Bobo. “The Satie I’ve known for a long time and always liked. Anders brought in the Rodríguez tune. His pieces seem to work well for us. [The Stenson Trio’s 2007 recording Cantando also opened with a Rodríguez composition] ‘Cancion contra la indecisíon’ is an older Rodríguez song, from the ’70s. And then the Mompou: I’d played some Mompou together with [English saxophonist] Martin Speake a few years ago, also music from the Cançons I Danses, but not this particular piece. When we play the Mompou tune with the trio in concert we often use it as an intro to ‘Don’s Kora Song’ [a Don Cherry composition heard on Cantando]. And then Anders, of course, is always writing and writing music. He brings his tunes to us and we see which ones will work for the trio. What else? The ‘Kalimba Impressions’ is an improvised piece. Jon Fält had two kalimbas with him of different sizes, keys, tonalities. We set up a sort of melody and based the piece around that…”

 

Bobo Stenson and Anders Jormin have been musical partners for more than thirty years now. Early shared projects included work in the co-operative band Rena Rama with saxophonist Lenart Åberg; Stenson also played on Jormin’s 1984 album Nordic Light. Anders subsequently joined Bobo Stenson’s trio, working with its succession of drummers – first Rune Carlsson, then Jon Christensen (see the ECM albums Reflections, War Orphans and Serenity), and Paul Motian (Goodbye).

 

In 2007 the drum chair was taken by a player then little known outside the Swedish free scene, Jon Fält. “We’d been playing with Paul Motian, but Paul had decided he wasn’t going to leave New York anymore, which was difficult for a working band. And Jon Fält I’d known since he was a teenager … I saw him again at the Fasching Club in Stockholm where they had some special event, some celebration. I was supposed to play in duo with the bassist Christian Spering, but I asked Jon to join us for a few pieces. It was such fun that I called Anders afterwards and said ‘I think we have the new drummer for the trio.’” A decade and three albums later, it’s difficult to imagine another player fitting this group so well. Fält’s playful, lightning-quick responses, challenging and detailing the musical action, are fully integrated into the trio’s musical concept and character.

 

Like Cantando and Indicum, Contra la indecisíon was recorded at Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI studio, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

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Each "listen" button will provide one track.

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TOP-BANNER-

 

bobo

 

Bobo Stenson Trio Contra la indecisión

Bobo Stenson piano | Anders Jormin double bass | Jon Fält drums

A decisively beautiful new album on which the great Swedish trio of Bobo Stenson draws upon a wide range of source materials So strong is the group’s character and the musical identity of each of its members that the integration of this material always feels organic and logical. Stenson’s lyrical touch, Jormin’s folk-flavored arco bass and Jon Fält’s flickering, textural drumming are all well-displayed on Contra la indecisión, the trio’s first new recording in six years.

 

***

 

surman

 

John Surman Invisible Threads

John Surman saxophones, bass clarinet 
Nelson Ayres piano | Rob Waring vibraphone, marimba

Saxophonist and clarinettist John Surman is often characterized as a quintessentially English improviser and composer, and hints of folk music and a pastoral ambience are well-loved attributes of his music. Yet he also has a long history of working with musicians from other countries and cultures, players united by such invisible threads as a shared feeling for melody that transcends the idioms.

 

***

 

stronen

 

Thomas Strønen / Time Is A Blind Guide Lucus

Ayumi Tanaka piano | Håkon Aase violin | Lucy Railton violoncello 
Ole Morten Vågan double bass | Thomas Strønen drums, percussion

Norwegian drummer/composer Thomas Strønen presents a revised edition of his acoustic collective Time Is A Blind Guide, now trimmed to quintet size, and with a new pianis. in Wakayama-born Ayumi Tanaka. Tanaka has spoken of seeking associative connections between Japan and Norway in her improvising, a tendency Strønen seems to be encouraging with his space-conscious writing for the ensemble, letting in more light. As on the group’s eponymously-titled and critically-lauded debut album there are excellent contributions from the string players – the quintet effectively contains both a string trio and a piano trio – and Manfred Eicher’s production brings out all the fine detail in the grain of the collective sound and the halo of its overtones, captured in the famously-responsive acoustic of Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in March 2017.

 

***

 

downes

 

Kit Downes Obsidian

Kit Downes church organs 
with Tom Challenger tenor saxophone

Kit Downes’s previous ECM appearance was as pianist on the debut recording ofTime Is A Blind Guide in 2015 and he’s critically-regarded as one of the UK’s outstanding young jazz talents. In reviewing a recent concert of this material, critic John Marley of Jazz Views conjured the following: “Imagine that you are stranded in an alien and hostile environment. The sound you hear is constant, yet ever changing. It evolves, creeps, terrifies and fascinates. A slow rumble resonates through the air like the mechanical revolutions of a distant engine. Organic sounds emanate from the church organ. Kit Downes patiently manipulates the instrument to draw out a succession of pules accelerating frequencies and violent distortions. Brisk forays across the keyboard come and go. The notes run across your path like a creature, so quick they are almost unidentifiable….Hypnotic…”

 

***

 

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

 

 

 

 

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that's a great batch to start 2018. Great to see Downes get a solo release

 

 

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Norma Winstone - Descansado - Songs for Films

release date: February 16, 2018

 

Norma Winstone: voice;  Klaus Gesing: bass clarinet, soprano saxophone;

Glauco Venier: piano;   Helge Andreas Norbakken: percussion:

Mario Brunnello: violoncello, violoncello piccolo

 

A creative journey into the world of cinema with new arrangements -  by Klaus Gesing and Glauco Venier - of music by Nino Rota, Michel Legrand, William Walton, Bernard Herrmann, and Ennio Morricone for the movies of Scorsese, Godard, Wenders, Jewison, Zeffirelli, Olivier and more. Several of the arrangements incorporate new words by Norma Winstone who, in addition to being one of the great jazz singers, has long been a sensitive lyricist.  For this project, her acclaimed trio with Gesing and Venier is augmented by two special guests: Norwegian improvising percussionist Helge Andreas Norbakken and Italian classical cellist Mario Brunello.  Norbakken is well-known to ECM listeners for his recordings with Jon Balke, Mathias Eick and Jon Hassell, while Brunello is highly regarded in classical and contemporary music circles for his interpretive versatility.  "Descansado - Songs for Films" was recorded at ArteSuono Studio in Udine, Italy, in March 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

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Andy Sheppard Quartet

Romaria

 

Andy Sheppard: tenor and soprano saxophones

Eivind Aarset: guitar

Michel Benita: double bass

Sebastian Rochford: drums

 

Release: February 16, 2017

ECM 2577                

B0027932-02

UPC CD:  6025 578 6980 4                   

UPC LP 180g: 6025 673 0185 1

 

 

Romaria is the latest chapter in a musical story that began with saxophonist Andy Sheppard’s free-flowing Trio Libero recording with bassist Michel Benita and drummer Sebastian Rochford back in 2011. The creative understanding between the three highly-individual protagonists was unmissable. For the subsequent album Surrounded by Sea, recorded in 2014, Eivind Aarset was added on guitar and electronics, bringing the group to quartet size and broadening its work method. As Sheppard explained to UK website Jazz Views, “I wanted to take what I was doing with Trio Libero and add the harmonies that I can hear in my head when playing with just bass and drums. Eivind is an amazing ‘orchestral’ voice with exquisite taste – the perfect choice for this role.” In an interview with Jazzwise magazine, Sheppard went further: “The sound-world that I have with this quartet is my dream band.” US magazine Jazz Times called the quartet’s music “impressionistic yet suffused with piercing emotional clarity,” a description also applicable for Romaria.

 

In this new program of compositions by Andy Sheppard (plus the title track by Brazilian singer-songwriter Renato Teixeira) the drones and washes of Eivind Aarset’s guitar and electronics once again help to establish a climate in which improvisation can take place. There’s a highly atmospheric, ambient drift to the music which Sheppard clearly finds liberating, as do Michel Benita and Seb Rochford, free to move in and out of conventional rhythm section roles and to make impassioned statements of their own. And there is also drive: rubato and propulsive elements can co-exist and overlap in Sheppard’s musical universe, see for instance “Thirteen,” “They Came From The North” and “All Becomes Again”, all distinguished by dynamic interaction.

 

“I wanted to continue the atmosphere of Surrounded by Sea,” says Andy Sheppard, “and write music which would bring out the wonderful musicality of Eivind, Seb and Michel and also make the core a little more robust, with more of an emphasis on groove and energy than the last album.”

 

The opening and closing tracks were originally two versions of a slowly-unfolding ballad entitled “Forever and a Day”, both featuring gentle saxophone by the leader and melodic bass from Michel Benita against minimalistic drums and Aarset’s halo of sounds: “Manfred’s inspired idea of using both takes to open and close the session made me retitle the music accordingly.”

 

“With Every Flower That Falls” belongs to a suite of music that Sheppard was commissioned to write as a “live score” to accompany a screening of Fritz Lang’s prophetic science-fiction classicMetropolis at the Bristol International Jazz Festival (where it was performed with a ten piece ensemble with Sheppard, Aarset and Michele Rabbia among the soloists).

 

Title track “Romaria” was recommended to Andy Sheppard by his wife Sara: “She suggested I explore it, and played me the wonderful version by Ellis Regina, which of course I fell in love with immediately. For me, it also ties in with our recent relocation to Portugal, land of sunshine and saudades, two things that I hope the listener will find on this recording…”

 

*

 

Andy Sheppard’s first leader date for ECM was the 2008 recording Movements In Colour(where Eivind Aarset was one of the featured guitarists). In addition to the aforementioned Trio Libero album Sheppard can also be heard with Carla Bley and Steve Swallow on Trios(recorded 2012) and Andando el Tiempo (2015) and on ten of Carla Bley’s albums on the ECM distributed WATT label, beginning with Fleur Carnivore in 1988. Sheppard has written music for ensembles of every size including his Saxophone Massive project with up to 200 players, and been featured as soloist with great jazz composers and arrangers including George Russell and Gil Evans.

 

Andy Sheppard and Michel Benita have been crossing paths since the 1980s. In 2008 Sheppard, Benita and Sebastian Rochford came together in a project at the Coutances Jazz Festival in northern France. It was here that Sheppard first glimpsed the potential of this particular musical combination.

 

Seb Rochford, whose interest in jazz was first sparked by witnessing an Andy Sheppard concert in Aberdeen, has meanwhile made his own distinctive contributions to the genre with his bands including Polar Bear. Rochford’s resumé has embraced work with everyone from Brian Eno to Herbie Hancock, from Patti Smith to Matana Roberts.

 

Each quartet member is also a bandleader in his own right, and Michel Benita, French bassist born in Algiers, recorded the album River Silver with his Ethics band (featuring Eivind Aarset, Matthieu Michel, and koto player Mieko Miyazaki) for ECM in 2015. Benita has played with numerous jazz musicians including Dewey Redman, Archie Shepp, Lee Konitz, Kenny Wheeler, Joe Lovano, Steve Kuhn, Michel Portal and many more.

 

Eivind Aarset’s ECM album Dream Logic was released in 2012. It was followed by Atmosphèreswith an improvising quartet with Tigran Hamasyan, Arve Henriksen and Jan Bang. Other ECM appearances include Nils Petter Molvӕr’s influential Khmer and Solid Ether, Small Labyrinthswith Marilyn Mazur’s Future Song, Arild Andersen’s Electra, John Hassell’s Last Night The Moon Came…, Ketil Bjørnstad’s La Notte, and Food’s Mercurial Balm.

 

Romaria was recorded at Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo in April 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher. 

ECM

 

 

 

Shinya Fukumori Trio

For 2 Akis

 

Matthieu Bordenave: tenor saxophone

Walter Lang: piano

Shinya Fukumori: drums

 

Release date: February 16, 2018

ECM 2574                

B0027936-02

UPC: 6025 578 8817 1                  

 

For 2 Akis is the ECM debut for a Japanese-French-German trio with a lyrical sound of its own. Drummer-leader Shinya Fukumori, also the principal composer for the band, is an imaginative melodist at several levels, and the attention to timbre and detail and space which distinguishes his drumming is also reflected in the color-fields of his free-floating ballads, and his adaptations and arrangements of Japanese songs. The spaciousness of the music leaves room for expression to tenorist Matthieu Bordenave and pianist Walter Lang. Bordenave has a deceptively fragile tenor tone, of considerable emotional impact, and Lang is a very subtle player, patiently shoring up the whole context. Together the three players have created something special and new.

 

Shinya Fukumori, born in Osaka in 1984, played violin, piano and guitar before taking up drums at 15. Two years later he moved to the US, studying at Brookhaven College and the University of Texas at Arlington, completing his formal musical education at Boston’s Berklee College. After playing a great deal of in-the-tradition jazz and powering a number of big bands, he says that he found himself yearning for “something more floating. I wanted more dialogues.” Exposure to Keith Jarrett’s My Song album led to an interest in ECM’s recordings and in diverse European approaches to improvisational music-making. He cites Ketil Bjørnstad’s The Sea and Eberhard Weber’s Silent Feet as particular inspirations. Determining that he would one day record for ECM and work with Manfred Eicher, he decided to move to Munich “without knowing anyone at all in Europe” at that time.

 

To prepare for the move he went back to Osaka for a while, where he was encouraged by the “two Akis” of the title track, both of them at Interplay 8, a jazz club with a long history, which once provided support for the young Yosuke Yamashita when few others were listening. Shinya Fukumori: “They believed in me and my music, and took care of me until I left for Europe. ‘For 2 Akis’ was one of the first rubato-type compositions I wrote, and among the first pieces that the trio played together. We feel it really represents the group.”

 

It was also in Osaka that Shinya first heard Walter Lang, when the Swabian pianist was there with his own trio. “Walter is somewhat known in Japan, and so I went to his concert, and fell in love with the simple but strong and unique melodies in his playing.”

 

At a jam session in Munich, Shinya got to play with French saxophonist Matthieu Bordenave: “I loved his tone, and we’ve developed a really close connection in the music. His approach and playing are like floating on a river. Both Walter and Matthieu really appreciate Japanese culture, and with their support I feel very confident in the music.”

 

Each of the musicians contributes fine-spun pieces to the trio repertoire, and on For 2 AkisShinya has also brought in Japanese pieces of the Shōwa era (1926-89) which have a special resonance for him: “One of the most important music forms of this period is Shōwa Kayō, the folk/pop music of the Shōwa era. After World War II, when the country was very poor, people would sing folk songs - sometimes to forget about their situation, or to cry over it. Music was a way to escape from the reality, but at the same time to be aware of it. Although the sound is completely different, the way the music has influenced the people is equivalent, in my mind, to American blues. The folk songs of the period are usually very sad and nostalgic, and the music still touches our hearts. My parents and grandparents sang these songs. So I basically grew up listening to Shōwa Kayō.

 

“I always wanted to create music using Shōwa elements, so I started arranging Shōwa folk songs for the trio in the style of European improvisational music with my own voice. It’s worked out well, and leaves so much space in the music…”

 

The album begins and ends with Kenji Miyazawa’s “Hoshi Meguri No Uta” (“The Star-Circling Song”). Poet, author, farmer, and cellist Miyazawa (1896-1933), perhaps best-known for his surreal children’s books, wrote few songs. This one says Shinya “has an atmosphere of mystical space. I feel close to his works and the world he creates in his writings and music.”

 

One of the much-loved songs of the Shōwa period is “Ai San San” written by Kei Ogura (born 1944) and made famous by legendary diva Hibari Misora (1937-89). Matthieu Bordenave wrings a lot of feeling from its melody in the trio’s interpretation.

 

For Western jazz listeners the most familiar song here may be “Kojo No Tsuki” by Rentaro Taki: Thelonious Monk performed this piece (as “Japanese Folk Song”) on his Straight, No Chaseralbum. Shinya: “Every Japanese child learns this song at school. The melody of the song is very Japanese, so it stands out and still sounds very authentic even though I have re-harmonized it and arranged it.” Shinya Fukumori incorporates the piece into his “Light Suite” here, and it segues into his own compositions.

 

The other “cover version” here, “Mangetsu No Yube” (“Full Moon Night”), written by Tagashi Nakagawa and Hiroshi Yamaguchi after the Great Hanshin earthquake of 1995, is a song of hope for dark times. “It’s important for me to play the song to remember,” says Shinya. “Plus, I just want to play the music because it’s a beautiful song.”

 

The Shinya Fukumori Trio is a Munich-based band - actually the first Munich-based jazz group on ECM since the Mal Waldron Trio of the early 1970s – and all three of its members are leaders in their own right, active on the local scene as well as internationally. Walter Lang has extensive experience of playing duos with Lee Konitz (which led last autumn to Konitz guesting with Matthieu Bordenave’s quartet, with Shinya on drums). Bordenave, furthermore, leads the group Grand Angle with Peter Omara, Henning Sieverts and Shinya Fukumori, and plays duos with guitarist Geoff Goodman.

 

 For 2 Akis was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in March 2017, and produced by Manfred Eicher. The trio is playing in both Europe and Japan in the coming months.

ECM

 

 

 

Nicolas Masson

Travelers

 

Nicolas Masson: tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet

Colin Vallon: piano

Patrice Moret: double bass

Lionel Friedli: drums

 Release date: February 16, 2018

ECM 2578                

B0027934-02

UPC: 6025 670 5808 3                     

 

After two well-received ECM albums in the cooperative trio Third Reel, leading Swiss reedman Nicolas Masson now presents his own quartet, with Colin Vallon, Patrice Moret and Lionel Friedli. The group has existed for twelve years already, touring as Nicolas Masson’s Parallels, with unchanged personnel and metamorphosing musical influences and priorities. It’s a group of friends, firstly, Masson emphasises. All compositions are by the leader but, as he says, “what’s special about the band, I believe, is the alchemy between the four of us, what happens when we play together.”

 

Masson’s thoughtful writing for the group does not seek to draw attention to itself, but it continues to encourage fresh responses from the players: “For the quartet I like to have the possibility of writing the simplest melody as a unique starting point for improvisations or more complex rhythmic, harmonic and contrapuntal structures to play on.” Characteristically, at least two of the quartet members adhere to the compositional structure at any given time while the others are free to roam around it or to go exploring. Pianist Colin Vallon and bassist Patrice Moret, play differently here. ECM listeners will know these musicians from Vallon’s own trio and from Elina Duni’s group. Masson’s concept prompts more soloistic activity, and there is a special pleasure in the interplay between piano and saxophone here, as on the title track. In the mutating landscapes which these travellers negotiate you will also find some of Vallon’s prettiest ballad playing (see “Almost Forty”, for instance), richly melodic bass from Moret, and always alert and detailed drumming from Lionel Friedli, whose tom-toms, gongs and metals get a powerful feature on “The Deep.” Constant factors through the album – and throughout the history of the band – are Masson’s lean-toned saxophone and elegant clarinet.

 

Nonetheless, twelve years is a long time in the life of an improvising group and much has changed along the way. When Nicolas Masson started the band he was inspired, he says, by Tim Berne’s writing, and juxtaposing that influence with ideas from rock, while also looking to Miles Davis’s sixties quintet as an optimum model for a balance of improvisation and composition. In the early days, when the group’s music was more groove and ostinato-driven, Vallon played just Fender Rhodes in the line-up, and textures were thicker and heavier (the 2009 album Thirty Six Ghosts documents the period). Masson subsequently fine-tuned his writing in concurrent projects, including a quartet with Ben Monder, Patrice Moret and Ted Poor, and the aforementioned Third Reel: “Recording the two ECM albums with Third Reel inspired me to think a lot about musical expression and aesthetics. I was trying to find a way to simplify or clarify the written material to communicate on a deeper level.”

 

Contemporary composition had long been an interest; now, Masson also listened to earlier music of the classical tradition, including baroque music, for lyrical inspiration and formal concepts. “I wanted a more singing, melodic approach and operas and arias by Handel, Telemann and Purcell helped me to renew my approach to saxophone playing and offered new inspirations in writing, too. I was also hearing something more organic and natural.” Hence the drift to acoustic instruments.

 

Masson’s artistic growth has been stimulated by some important encounters. At the age of 20 he met Cecil Taylor, J.R. Mitchell and Fred Hopkins in New York, which led to studies with Frank Lowe and Makanda Ken McIntyre. At the end of the 1990s, he returned to the US to study with Chris Potter and Rich Perry. He has played with Ben Monder, Kenny Wheeler, Josh Roseman, Otomo Yoshihide, Clarence Penn, Kris Davis, Thomas Morgan, Scott DuBois, Gerald Cleaver, Tom Arthurs, Samuel Blaser, Manuel Mengis, Susanne Abbuehl, and many others. Of his tunes on Travelers, Masson says, “I wrote each song in relation to someone I’ve known. These pieces are not musical portraits of these people, but a reaction to their specific energy…”

 

Music is paralleled in significance in Masson’s life by photography and the two arts have had a kind of symbiotic relationship for him. Working at the opera house in Geneva as a stage photographer was once a means to pay for studies at the city’s Conservatoire Populaire de Musique (where master-class teachers included Lee Konitz, Dave Douglas and Misha Mengelberg). Today he feels that his photography and music “feed off each other. Taking pictures helps me to understand what I react to, what inspires me, what energies I’m drawn to…The pieces that I write for the quartet are related to the experiences, impressions and moods I try to channel using music and photography.” A number of ECM covers and booklets have featured Masson’s images in recent years, in styles from landscapes and abstract pictures to musician portraits. Examples include Heinz Holliger’s Aschenmusik, the Colin Vallon Trio’s Le Vent and Danse, Elina Duni’s Dallëndyshe, Third Reel’s Many More Days, and now Travelers.

 

Travelers was recorded at Auditorio Stelio Molo in Lugano in April 2017, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

ECM

 

 

 

Norma Winstone

Descansado

Songs for Films

 

Norma Winstone: voice

Klaus Gesing: bass clarinet, soprano saxophone

Glauco Venier: piano

Helge Andreas Norbakken: percussion

Mario Brunello: violoncello, violoncello piccolo

 

Release date: February 16, 2018

ECM 2567                            

B0027937-02

UPC: 6025 578 6989 7              

 

For its fourth ECM album, a creative journey into the world of film music, Norma Winstone’s trio with Klaus Gesing and Glauco Venier is augmented by guests Helge Andreas Norbakken and Mario Brunello. Together they explore music written by Nino Rota, Michel Legrand, William Walton, Bernard Herrmann, Ennio Morricone, Armando Trovajoli, Rodrigo Leão, Luis Bacalov and Dario Marianelli for the movies of Scorsese, Godard, Wenders, Jewison, Zeffirelli, Olivier and more.

 

Descansado, named after Trovajoli’s regretful-yet-buoyant tune for Vittorio De Sica’s 1963 filmYesterday, Today and Tomorrow, is an album that works on several levels. Thoroughly involving as a set of graceful songs, it also invites the listener to reflect on the creative relationships between directors and composers, and the many ways in which music so often subtly contributes to the emotional tone of a film.

 

Some of the pieces here count as classics of the film song genre, among them Nina Rota’s “What Is A Youth” and Michel Legrand’s “His Eyes, Her Eyes”, transformed in the performances by Winstone and company. For six of the songs Norma has written new words.

 

As well as being one of the great contemporary jazz singers, Winstone has long been a sensitive lyricist, and her song texts often capture a moment or a mood in a way that might well be described as filmic. And so it is here, with her stories of love and loss conveyed through a look, a gesture or a touch. In their fresh arrangements, Venier and Gesing expand upon both the atmosphere of the film in question and the feeling embodied in Norma’s lyrics.

 

William Walton’s “Touch Her Soft Lips And Part”, originally written for Laurence Olivier’s version of Shakespeare’s Henry V, is a piece that John Taylor (with Kenny Wheeler one of the album’s dedicatees) used to play (Taylor’s interpretation of the tune can be heard on As It Is by the Peter Erskine Trio). Norma’s words for it encompass more than a film’s scene: “All of his magic/Still lives in her mind/All the sounds and images/Slowly rewind.” Mario Brunello’s cello underscores the song’s sentiment.

 

Sometimes, following her own instincts, Winstone finds new associations for a well-known melody, and Bernard Herrmann’s theme for Scorsese’s Taxi Driver becomes melancholy rather than ominous as Norma sketches another picture of mean streets: “The siren’s lullaby/Goes on into the night/Relentless and mournful, it never ends.”

 

Italian cellist Mario Brunello, whose own recordings have encompassed music from Bach to Ligeti, works a wide scope of music on this album, too, even conjuring a sense of the English countryside on the folk-flavored theme of “Meryton Townhall” from Joe Wright’s film based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Here, and on themes for Wim Wenders’s Lisbon Story and Jean-Luc Godard’s Vivre sa vie(added spontaneously to the program in the course of the recording session) Norma uses her voice wordlessly, as a pure instrument, as she did back in the 1970s when she made her ECM debut in the Azimuth trio with Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor.

 

In fact, from the beginning of her life in jazz, Norma Winstone has wanted to be part of the ensemble, rather than a frontwoman – interweaving improvised lines with her partners and participating in the blossoming harmony. When singing texts, she draws her fellow musicians ever deeper into the storylines sketched by the lyrics, until the plot is illuminated from multiple perspectives. On Descansado this is true for the guest musicians as well as for Gesing and Venier, who have worked with Norma for more than fifteen years: their first trio album was Chamber Music, recorded for Universal in 2002, followed by the Grammy nominated Distances (2007), Stories Yet To Tell (2009) and Dance Without Answer (2012).

 

Norma’s other ECM albums include Somewhere Called Home (recorded in 1986 with John Taylor and Tony Coe), and five albums with Azimuth, recorded between 1979 and 1994. She can also be heard on Kenny Wheeler’s Music for Large and Small Ensembles (1990) and Eberhard Weber’s Fluid Rustle(1979).

 

Pianist Glauco Venier recorded his solo album Miniatures for ECM in 2013. Saxophonist and clarinettist Klaus Gesing has played with Anouar Brahem’s ensembles since 2008, and appears on the albums The Astounding Eyes of Rita (2008) and Souvenance (2014). And percussionist Helge Andreas Norbakken has contributed to ECM recordings with Jon Balke’s Magnetic North, Batagraf and Siwan ensembles, as well as projects with Jon Hassell, Miki N’Doye and Mathias Eick (including the forthcoming albumRavensburg).

 

Descansado – Songs for Films was recorded at ArteSuono Studio in Udine, Italy, in March 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

 

Norma Winstone, Glauco Venier, Klaus Gesing and Helge Andreas Norbakken play the music ofDescansado at a special release concert in the Stadttheater in Landsberg am Lech, Germany, on February 18.

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Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette - After The Fall

release date : March 2, 2018

 

Keith Jarrett: piano; Gary Peacock: double bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums

 

 

The group colloquially known as "the Standards trio" has made many outstanding recordings, and After The Fall must rank with the very best of them.  "I was amazed to hear how well the music worked," writes Keith Jarrett in his liner note. "For me, it's not only a historical document, but a truly great concert." This performance - in Newark, New Jersey in November 1998 - marked Jarrett's return to the stage after a two-year hiatus. Joined by improvising partners Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, he glides and soars through classics of the Great American Songbook including "The Masquerade Is Over", "Autumn Leaves", "When I Fall In Love" and "I'll See You Again".  There are also breath-taking accounts of hallowed bebop tunes including Charlie Parker's "Scrapple From The Apple", Bud Powell's "Bouncin' With Bud", Sonny Rollins's "Doxy", plus a rare, energetic exploration of Coltrane's "Moment's Notice".

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Shinya Fukumori Trio - For 2 Akis

release date: February 16, 2018

 

Matthieu Bordenave: tenor saxophone; Walter Lang: piano; Shinya Fukumori: drums

 

An ECM debut for a unique Japanese-French-German trio, with a lyrical sound of its own.  Drummer-leader Shinya Fukumori, also the principal composer for the band, is an imaginative melodist at several levels, and the attention to timbre and detail and space which distinguishes his drumming is also reflected in the color-fields of his free-floating ballads. The spaciousness of the music leaves room for expression to tenorist Matthieu Bordenave and pianist Walter Lang. Bordenave has a deceptively fragile tenor tone, of considerable emotional impact, and Lang, one of Lee Konitz's chosen duo partners in recent years, is a subtle player, patiently shoring up the whole context. Together, the members of this Munich-based band have created something new and fresh. For 2 Akis was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in March 2017, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

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Andy Sheppard Quartet - Romaria

release date: February 16, 2018

 

Andy Sheppard: tenor and soprano saxophones; Eivind Aarset: guitar

Michel Benita: double bass; Sebastian Rochford: drums

 

Andy Sheppard's quartet extends the musical explorations begun on the 2015 release Surrounded By Sea, an album praised by Télérama for its "poignant serenity."  In this new program of compositions by Sheppard (plus the title track by Brazilian singer-songwriter Renato Teixeira), the drones and washes of Eivind Aarset's guitar and electronics - aided by the generous acoustics of Lugano's Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI - help to establish a climate in which improvisation can take place. There's a highly atmospheric, ambient drift to the music which Sheppard clearly finds liberating, as do Michel Benita and Seb Rochford, free to move in and out of conventional rhythm section roles and to make impassioned statements of their own. Romaria was recorded in April 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

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Nicolas Masson Quartet- Travelers

release date: February 16, 2018

 

Nicolas Masson: tenor and soprano saxophones, clarinet; Colin Vallon: piano;

Patrice Moret: double bass; Lionel Friedli: drums

  

After two ECM albums with the cooperative trio Third Reel, Swiss reedman Nicolas Masson presents a quartet for which he is the sole composer.  The group has existed for a decade with unchanged personnel, touring as Nicolas Masson's Parallels, and the leader's writing for it always encourages creative responses from the players. Amid the changing musical landscapes in which these travelers move, you will encounter some of Colin Vallon's prettiest ballad playing, richly melodic bass from Patrice Moret, and subtle drum commentary from Lionel Friedli. Plus, of course, plenty of Masson's pure-toned saxophone and elegant clarinet. Travelers was recorded at Auditorio Stelio Molo in Lugano in April 2017, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

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