GA Russell

ECM Press Releases for New Items

253 posts in this topic

FOUR NEW ECM TITLES TO RELEASE FEBRUARY 16TH

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Norma Winstone

Descansado 

Songs for Films

 

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“(Descansado) is quite possible Winstone’s best.” – Stuart Nicholson, Jazzwise
A creative journey into the world of cinema with new arrangements  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.

 

 

 

 

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Andy Sheppard Quartet

Romaria

 

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 The drones and washes of guitar and electronics help to establish a climate in which improvisation can take place.  There’s a highly atmospheric, ambient drift to the music which all the musicians clearly find liberating, free to move in and out of conventional rhythm section roles and to make impassioned statements of their own.

 

 

 

 

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Nicolas Masson

Travelers

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

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Shinya Fukumori Trio

For 2 Akis

 

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 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. 

 

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2018 ECM Records. 1755 Broadway, Floor 3. New York, NY 10019. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Mathias Eick

Ravensburg

 

Mathias Eick: trumpet, voice

Håkon Aase: violin

Andreas Ulvo: piano

Audun Erlien: electric bass

Torstein Lofthus: drums

Helge Andreas Norbakken: drums, percussion

 

                                           Release date: March 2, 2018

ECM 2584

B0027964-02

UPC: 6025 671 0242 7

 

On his last album, Midwest – described by Allaboutazz as “his most well-conceived outing” -  trumpeter Mathias Eick imaginatively reflected on the exodus of hundreds of thousands of his compatriots who journeyed in the 19th century from the villages of Norway to the vast plains of Dakota. The geographical ambit of Ravensburg is smaller, but the scope of the compositions no less broad. This time Eick draws inspiration directly from his family circle, and the pieces, with modest titles like “Family”, “Friends”, “Parents”, Girlfriend” and “For My Grandmothers” add up to a kind of collective portrait, touching upon “all the emotional situations we experience on the stage where we mostly hang around. That is: home.” Embodied in the music, with its strongly melodic themes and improvisational exchanges, are ideas of relationships, dialogues, longings, games – and journeys.  The Norwegian trumpeter Eick also has German ancestry, with one grandmother hailing from Ravensburg, the historic Swabian town. (Ravensburger jigsaws - “3,000 pieces, 5,000 pieces… a bit overwhelming” - were accordingly a mixed blessing of Eick family Christmases.)

 

“The working title for the album was just ‘Family’ says Mathias Eick, “but once I realized how many albums there are with that title, it had to change. Anyway, the starting point was a wish to create energetic rhythmic compositions where I could use both Helge Andreas Norbakken and Torstein Lofthus as two strong personalities in the family. Helge is ‘a drummer’ on paper, but he’s really a one-of-a kind musician, with a very personal approach. His drum kit doesn’t look much like a regular kit, and the sounds he draws from it are completely his own.  I didn’t offer any instructions at all to him or Torstein about how they should interact or play together, because I thought they’d work it out wonderfully between themselves, even though they’re coming together for the first time here. Torstein has immaculate time and a beat that can really drive a band.  So, my idea was to give him – within this idea of family and friends – a playmate, so to speak.  I wasn’t trying to make the drumming bigger or louder but rather more three-dimensional. With lots of interaction and shadowing. In fact, what’s going on in the area of rhythm is very much like what’s happening between Håkon and myself, where a similar idea of shadowing and conversation and call-and-response is taking place.”

 

One of the pleasures of the Midwest album was hearing Mathias Eick’s radiant, vaulting trumpet supported by Gjermund Larsen’s violin; the trumpet/violin combination, a particularly evocative instrumental blend, is further developed on Ravensburg. Håkon Aase, the new violinist in Eick’s ensemble, is one of the up-and-coming players of the Norwegian scene, whom attentive ECM listeners will already know from his work with Thomas Strønen’s group Time Is A Blind Guide; latterly he has also been working with Mette Henriette.  Aase has been playing with Eick in live contexts for three years already. “Gjermund did a great job on Midwest, but that was more ‘folk’ orientated. Well, I wanted some folk for this one, too, but also the jazz direction and a feeling for contemporary improvising. Håkon, who was only 22 when he started with us, has all of that in his playing – and he has really turned out to be the best possible guy for the band. He has huge ears, and I’m very happy with the level of interaction we’ve arrived at on this album.”

 

Bassist Audun Erlien is, with pianist Andreas Ulvo, and drummer Torstein Lofthus, a long-serving member of the Eick road band. All three of them appear on Skala, Mathias’s recording of 2009/2010, and Erlien is also on Eick’s ECM leader debut The Door (and, still earlier, he can also be heard on Nils Pettter Molvær’s Solid Ether). “Audun has a very warm sound for an electric bass player and with his background in soul and R’n’B and his true understanding of the jazz and improvised universe he brings a lot of good things to the band.”  Andreas Ulvo, meanwhile, is “deepening and refining his musical expression all the time, with strong capabilities in both rhythmic playing and improvisational soloing.  Obviously live and studio are two different things: when we play this material in concert, Andreas’s extended introductions often stimulate new creative ideas.”

 

Alongside the album’s central thematic concerns, another of Eick’s larger designs continues to unfold. On his ECM albums to date the trumpeter has been spelling out a kind of sonic calendar, with compositions named for the months of the year. With Ravensburg, “August” is added to a list that already includes “March” and “November” (on Midwest), “June” (on Skala) and “October” and “December” (on “The Door”).

 

“August” is one of several tracks on Ravensburg where Eick’s singing voice has a role to play. It’s a new development. “I’d been singing at home every night with the kids. Then I started singing some more while I was making music. Since I’ve always thought of the trumpet as an extension of my voice, it seemed like it might be time to also use my voice directly…”

 

*

 

Mathias Eick has won numerous awards, including the International Jazz Festival Organization’s “International Jazz Talent” prize, the Statoil Scholarship and the DNB Prize. After finishing his formal musical education at NTNU Trondheim’s jazz studies, he soon gained acclaim working with artists including Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and Chick Corea, Jaga Jazzist, Iro Haarla, Manu Katché, and Jacob Young. As trumpeter, vibraphonist, double bass player, guitarist and piano player he has performed on over 100 albums.  

 

Ravensburg was recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in June 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher, and is issued on the eve of European tour.  More dates will follow in the summer, with the band reaching Ravensburg in August.

ECM

 

 

 

Keith Jarrett / Gary Peacock / Jack DeJohnette

After The Fall

 

Keith Jarrett: piano

Gary Peacock: double bass

Jack DeJohnette: drums

 

Release date: March 2, 2018

ECM 2590/91                                     

B0027966-02

2-CD UPC: 6025 671 6506 4                              

 

In the course of its 30-year lifespan the trio of Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette – the group colloquially known as “the Standards trio” – made many outstanding recordings. And After The Fall, overflowing with sparkling playing and dynamic interaction, must rank with the very best of them.

“I was amazed to hear how well the music worked,” says Keith Jarrett. “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. In fact, this concert was the first Jarrett had played since the 1996 Italian solo performances issued as A Multitude of Angels. In terms of the trio’s discography, it slots into the history before Whisper Not, recorded the following summer, and is thus the precursor of this group’s distinguished second period, where they seemed to find new freedoms both inside and beyond the world of jazz standards.

“We don’t bother with concepts, or theory, or maintaining some image,” Gary Peacock told Jazz Times a few years ago. “That’s of no concern whatsoever. So what that leaves is: everything. It leaves the music. Once you get to that point where you don’t feel like you have to make a statement anymore, you enter a space of enormous freedom.”

Together with improvising partners Peacock and DeJohnette, Jarrett 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”; they create their own music inside these familiar forms. Pete La Roca’s “One for Majid”, which would become a staple of the trio’s concerts in the 21st century, gets a sprightly treatment and sets the scene for a surprisingly boisterous, grooving version of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town”, a chestnut which once attracted the attention of Paul Bley and Bill Evans. This in turn is followed by a rare Jarrett exploration of a Coltrane theme, as “Moment’s Notice” lifts the trio into a new energetic space.

There are also breath-taking accounts of hallowed bebop tunes including Charlie Parker’s “Scrapple From The Apple”, Bud Powell’s “Bouncin’ With Bud” and Sonny Rollins’s “Doxy”. “Scrapple” is especially exhilarating, with dizzying right-hand sprays of notes from Jarrett, magically detailed by DeJohnette’s speeding cymbals, leading to rapid-fire exchanges between piano and drums. In his liner note, Jarrett reflects on the choice of material for this ‘experimental’ comeback concert. “I told the guys in the trio that for me bebop might be the best idea, although it required great technique, I didn’t think I needed to play as hard as I sometimes did…”

Ballads are also played with great tenderness. Paul Desmond’s “Late Lament” becomes a deep meditation, with Gary Peacock playing beautifully beneath Jarrett’s austere extension of the melody. “When I Fall In Love”, a favorite encore choice, is a as touching here as it has ever been.

“These songs have a soul that can be found,” Keith Jarrett once said. Few will disagree that the trio locate it, repeatedly, on After The Fall.

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Jakob Bro

Returnings

 

Jakob Bro: guitar

Palle Mikkelborg: trumpet, flugelhorn

Thomas Morgan: double bass

Jon Christensen: drums

 

ECM 2546

B0028101-02

UPC: 6025 670 5850 2

 

 

“Danish guitarist Jakob Bro creates magical music, impossible to categorize”, wrote Downbeat, reviewing his album Streams. On Returnings, the magic is intensified as Bro and musical soul-mate Thomas Morgan join forces with two distinguished elders of European jazz, trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg and drummer Jon Christensen.   It’s an inspired combination: Bro’s watercolor guitar sounds, Mikkelborg’s soft, sometimes Milesian flugelhorn, Morgan’s impeccable choice of notes, and Christensen’s free-floating drumming. These components add up to one of the prettiest and subtlest jazz albums of recent times.

 

The theme of “returnings” is central. The album opens with a new version of “Oktober”, picking up the story from Bro’s album Gefion. In recent years, Jakob’s trio with Thomas Morgan and Joey Baron has, happily, gained a strong following. Meanwhile, the guitarist had also been looking for a context in which to continue his association with Jon Christensen. Returnings provides this. It also reunites Christensen with Palle Mikkelborg for the first time on ECM since Terje Rypal’s Vossabrygg (recorded in 2003), and marks the drummer’s return to playing after a break of more than a year.  

 

“I never considered the first trio to be a one off”, says Bro, agreeing that bassist Morgan plays differently with Christensen than in the group with Joey Baron. “In some ways Thomas is a very socially-skilled bass player!  He’s picking up on Jon’s ideas, he’s making the melody sound better and he’s also accompanying each of us in the improvised sections. It’s incredible what he does simultaneously.” 

 

Bro has admired Palle Mikkelborg’s playing for as long as he can remember. “I’ve known Palle since I was a kid,” he says. “I was playing trumpet myself, then, and listening to him a lot.” Both musicians live in Copenhagen, “and the scene is quite small, so we’ve crossed paths quite often.  A few years ago, we were talking about collaborating on a large-scale music for choir.  Then we decided to concentrate first on more improvised music.  So I called Jon and Thomas and invited them to play with us. We did two concerts together with this formation in 2014 which really made me think about the potential.  And Palle and I would meet, talk, drink wine and play a bit every few weeks, and gradually ideas for the album came together.”

 

Working towards the music for this session, Bro and Mikkelborg began with the title track. “The main part of that is Palle’s. He had come up with a composition based on the letters ECM and Manfred Eicher’s name – similar in a way to his composition ‘Aura’ that he’d done for Miles Davis - almost a mathematical construction. We started improvising on that and developing it and it became, I think, an essential part of the program.” It seems to contain flashes of ECM history in its source code, and the way that Christensen and Palle Mikkelborg interact and overlap here is likely to make older listeners and scholars recall the tonalities and textures of 1970s albums like Waves and Descendre. Nonetheless, following Christensen’s free drumming, and the independence of the four voices moving in the transparent mix, leaves a deeper impression of music both modern and timeless.  

 

“I think it’s both fragile and strong at the same time,” says Bro of the music’s contrasting attributes, “and I love the way Jon very often won’t give you the obvious stressed rhythm you might expect. When Palle is playing strong lines, Jon is heading somewhere else in his own way. To my ears that’s really interesting.”

 

For playing the unexpected in a jazz context, Jon Christensen has few rivals, though one of them would have been the late Paul Motian, erstwhile employer of both Bro and Morgan.  The piece “Hamsun” here, dedicated to the Norwegian author of such classics as Hunger and Mysteries, was also partly inspired by Motian. “Paul Motian had talked a lot about Knut Hamsun when we toured together, and that got me reading the books…This is an older piece which I’d written originally for Kenny Wheeler to play.”  The version of the tune on Returnings is played as a duet by Bro and Morgan.

 

Mikkelborg’s piece “View” begins with Christensen and Morgan in duo, with Palle and Jakob introducing the theme only after the  halfway mark.  Bro: “This is really a collaborative album, the outcome of a creative session with good input from everybody. Musically, any one of us could be considered the ‘leader’.”

 

One of the most touching pieces is “Song for Nicolai”, for Danish bassist Nicolai Munch-Hansen, who passed away last year, with soulful playing from both Mikkelborg and Bro. 

 

“Oktober” was included at the suggestion of Manfred Eicher. “It’s also a piece that Palle likes to play, and at the mixing stage it was becoming clear that this version had a special character.” The tune “Lyskaster”, also heard on Gefion, is dedicated to the memory of Jakob Bro’s father. “On Gefion, we had just touched the melody [in a version more spacious and textural].  Here, Palle and I play it together, and that felt good. Also, my father was a trumpet player, too, and liked Palle’s sound. So, I was thinking about that as well.”

 

Returnings was recorded in July 2016 at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio and produced by Manfred Eicher. Further ECM projects with Jakob Bro are in preparation. Next up: a live album with Thomas Morgan and Joey Baron, recorded in New York.

 

The Bro/Mikklelborg/Morgan/Christensen quartet will be playing some of the festivals this summer, including the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. More details soon.

ECM

 

 

Arild Andersen/Paolo Vinaccia/Tommy Smith

In-House Science

 

Arild Andersen: double-bass

Paolo Vinaccia: drums

Tommy Smith: tenor saxophone

                       

Release date : March 23rd 2018

ECM 2594                        

B0028100-02

UPC: 6025 671 6897 3                                  

 

Norwegian master bassist Arild Andersen’s trio with big-toned Scottish tenorist Tommy Smith and Italian-born powerhouse drummer Paolo Vinaccia is one of the most viscerally exciting jazz small groups of the present moment. Some of its energies are arguably best captured in a live context, and here the three musicians deliver a characteristically smoking performance, recorded at the PKS Villa Rothstein in Bad Ischl, Austria, September 2016.

 

The trio’s earlier concert recording, Live At Belleville, was issued a decade ago to rave reviews and a shower of awards. “Absolutely and unreservedly marvellous” said the BBC Music Magazine. “How often do just three musicians produce music as vast and panoramic in its scale and vision?” asked Jazzwise rhetorically.

 

In recent interviews, Andersen has reflected on the group’s work method. “In the trio everyone is equal. Tommy might play the melody instrument, but he can also be an accompanist, and Paolo and I are the rhythm section but either of us can also be the lead voice… We are all soloists or rhythm section, the three of us simultaneously. It’s all to do with interplay, and as a trio we have developed quite a chemistry. Tommy is very good at listening to the bass and drums when he plays solo, and he leaves spaces for us to come up front again.” This is evident throughout this program of Andersen compositions, and not least on the album’s longest track “Science” which flies forth at breakneck tempo and keeps changing its angle of attack. Smith’s iron grip on its swerving rhythms is as profound as that of his partners and Andersen, equally, is as eloquent a soloist as the outstanding saxophonist.

 

“Mira” was the title track of the trio’s studio album of 2014, originally conceived by Arild as a “Sunday morning album”. It opens In-House Science, transformed by the momentum of the night-time live performance. The same goes for “Blussy”, already powerful in the studio version, it is elevated to a new level of intensity in the rivetingly dynamic performance here, capped by overblown saxophone.

 

Andersen’s commitment to burning energy music is of course not a new development but a continuation: in the early 1970s he played urgent streams-of-sound music in sax/bass/drum trios with Sam Rivers and Barry Altschul, with Juhani Aaltonen and Edward Vesala, and with Jan Garbarek and Vesala (see Triptkyon). The trio with Smith and Vinaccia extends this distinguished tradition on its own terms.

 

“North of the North Wind”, thematically connected to an earlier Andersen cycle – refer to the 1997 release Hyperborean – begins with Arild playing his bass together with a sampler to create rich quasi-orchestral sonorities before Smith enters and the piece drifts into free ballad territory, with moving statements from tenor sax and double bass.

 

“In-House”, in its full-throated exultation a sort of partner piece to “Outhouse” on the Live AtBelleville set, brings the album to a triumphant close, incorporating along the way solos by each of the trio members.

 

As well as bracketing two song-titles together, album title In-House Science alludes to the venue where this fiery music was documented, the PKS Villa Rothstein, whose history has a connection to scientific inquiry, the “PKS” standing for Pythagorus Kepler System. The PKS Organization is devoted to furthering the study of natural energy as outlined by Viktor Schauburger and other unconventional researchers.

 

The launch of In-House Science is celebrated with concerts in Japan, where the trio is joined by guest pianist Makoto Ozone for performances in Tokyo, Nagoya and Yokohama.

 

*

 

Arild Andersen was born in Oslo in 1945. He has been an ECM artist for almost 50 years, first recording for the label in 1970 on Afric Pepperbird with Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal and Jon Christensen. In the same period, he worked with Scandinavian residents Don Cherry and George Russell and backed a long line of visiting Americans – from Sonny Rollins to Chick Corea. After a New York sojourn in the early 1970s that found him working with Sam Rivers, Paul Bley, Steve Kuhn and Sheila Jordan, he returned to Norway and began leading his own bands. His first ECM leader dates were revisited in the 2010 box set Green In Blue: Early Quartets. Arild Andersen has issued more than 20 albums as a leader or co-leader for ECM, along the way making listeners aware of talents including Jon Balke, Tore Brunborg, Nils Petter Molvaer and Vassilis Tsabropoulos, all of whom first came to international attention as young musicians with Andersen bands. In 2008 he received the Jazz Musician of the Year award from France’s Académie du Jazz.

 

Paolo Vinaccia was born in Italy in 1954, and has been based in Norway since 1979. He has toured and recorded with musicians including Terje Rypdal, Jon Christensen, Bendik Hofseth, Ketil Bjørnstad, Palle Mikkelborg, David Darling, Dhafer Youssef, Mike Mainieri and many others. On ECM he appears on Terje Rypdal’s Crime Scene, Vossabrygg, and Skywardsalbums, as well as Arild Andersen’s Hyperborean, Electra and Live at Belleville. Releases under his own name include the live box set Very Much Alive (Jazzland, 2010) with Rypdal, Mikkelborg, Wesseltoft and Ståle Storløkken.

 

Saxophonist Tommy Smith, born in Edinburgh in 1967, made his mark on the Scottish jazz scene with his first album Giant Strides, recorded when he was sixteen, in 1983. That same year he won a scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. There, he formed the group Forward Motion, and also joined Gary Burton’s band, with which he appeared on the ECM album Whiz Kids in 1986. He has since released more than twenty albums under his own name for numerous labels, including his own Spartacus imprint. Smith has worked in small groups and big bands, recording and touring with Joe Lovano, David Liebman, Benny Golson, Gary Burton, Chick Corea, Tommy Flanagan, John Scofield, Miroslav Vitous, Jack DeJohnette and many more. He has composed for and performed with classical orchestras and ensembles including the Orchestra of St. John's Square, the Scottish Ensemble, the Edinburgh Youth Orchestra and the Paragon Ensemble. Smith founded the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in 1995, and remains its director. The orchestra is heard on the ECM album Celebration, with Arild Andersen as principal soloist.

ECM

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Jakob Bro - Returnings

release date March 23, 2018

 

Palle Mikkelborg: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jakob Bro: guitar;

Thomas Morgan: double bass; Jon Christensen: drums

 

 

"Danish guitarist Jakob Bro creates magical music, impossible to categorize", wrote Downbeat recently.  On Returnings the magic is intensified as Bro and musical soul-mate Thomas Morgan reconnect with two living legends of European jazz, trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg and drummer Jon Christensen.  It's a wonderful combination:  Bro's watercolor guitar sounds, Mikkelborg's soft Milesian flugelhorn, Morgan's impeccable choice of notes, and Christensen's free-floating drumming. These components add up to one of the prettiest and subtlest jazz albums of recent times.  Returnings was recorded in July 2016 at Oslo's Rainbow Studio and produced by Manfred Eicher.

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57dc6f2d-3e46-441d-bb94-595e2df97e3d.jpg
40a0fd51-5997-441b-bf0c-d7a800ad999c.jpg
Palle Mikkelborg trumpet, flugelhorn
Jakob Bro guitar
Thomas Morgan double bass
Jon Christensen drums


Bro and musical soul-mate Morgan reconnect with two living legends of European jazz, Mikkelborg and Christensen, for one of the prettiest and subtlest jazz albums of recent times.  
 
LISTEN / (PRE)ORDER HERE
 
1b57be9e-4ef9-4fc8-9799-415182217a9c.jpg
Tommy Smith  tenor saxophone
Arild Andersen double bass
Paolo Vinaccia drums


One of the most viscerally exciting jazz small groups of the present moment. Its energies are arguably best captured in a live context, and here the three musicians deliver a characteristically smoking performance.
LISTEN / (PRE)ORDER HERE
 
98ef6a80-845a-4a8a-864a-0a38d7f8932d.jpg
Mathias Eick trumpet, voice
Håkon Aase violin
Andreas Ulvo piano
Audun Erlien electric bass
Torstein Lofthus drums
Helge Andreas Norbakken drums, percussion


Eick is in great form as a writer on this showing, deploying driving rhythm at the bottom end of his music and soaring melody at the top.
LISTEN / (PRE)ORDER HERE
 
 
fd259d0b-d206-42a7-8d86-d8d9d752e2e4.jpg
Bobo Stenson piano
Anders Jormin double bass
Jon Fält drums


So strong is the group’s character and the musical identity of each of its members that the integration of this wide range of material always feels organic and logical.  The trio’s first new recording in six years, and arguably their best.
LISTEN / (PRE)ORDER HERE
 
6962e3f1-1646-4adc-b134-370f7ee02fb7.jpg
Ayumi Tanaka piano
Håkon Aase violin
Lucy Railton violoncello
Ole Morten Vågan double bass
Thomas Strønen drums, percussion

 
“A highly improvised program that is challenging,
accessible and hypnotic.”

–Bobby Reed, Downbeat (Editor’s Choice 2/2018)
LISTEN / (PRE)ORDER HERE
 
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Kristjan Randalu - Absence

release date April 6, 2018

 

Kristjan  Randalu: piano; Ben Monder: guitar;  Markku Ounaskari: drums

 

Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu makes his ECM debut with a striking album of his own rigorous-yet-lyrical music, sensitively played by a trio formed especially for this recording, with American guitarist Ben Monder and Finnish drummer Markku Ounaskari.   As an improviser of prodigious technique, once described by Herbie Hancock as "a dazzling piano player", Randalu's affinities are with the jazz musicians, but the forms and dynamics of his pieces also reflect a discerning sense of structure, and he has cited composers Erkki-Sven Tüür and Tõnu Kõrvitz amongst his mentors.  Absence was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the south of France in July 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

ECM

 

 

 

Kristjan Randalu

Absence

 

Kristjan Randalu: piano

Ben Monder: guitar

Markku Ounaskari: drums

                                           Released date: April 6, 2018

ECM  2586

B0028128-02

UPC:  6025 672 2679 6     

 

Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu makes his ECM debut with a striking album of his own rigorous-yet-lyrical music, sensitively played by a group formed especially for this recording, with American guitarist Ben Monder and Finnish drummer Markku Ounaskari.  The trio line-up was suggested by producer Manfred Eicher after hearing Randalu’s 2012 duo recording with Monder, Equilibrium. The featured compositions on Absence are robust, and in the past Randalu has played them also as solo piano pieces.  In this session recorded in Pernes-les-Fontaines in the south of France, their structures are prised open. Guitar and drums subtly illuminate the pieces from inside, casting light on their originality. Among other attributes, Monder and Ounaskari are outstanding colorists and textural players, and they bring out much of the fine detail implied in Randalu’s writing with inspired improvising.

 

Like much good music, Randalu’s resists capsule summary.  Markku Ounaskari has observed that “Kristjan’s music is really a world of its own.” As an improviser of prodigious technique, once described by Herbie Hancock as “a dazzling piano player”, Randalu’s affinities are with the jazz musicians, but the forms and dynamics of his pieces also reflect a discerning structural sense, and he has cited composers Erkki-Sven Tüür and Tõnu Kõrvits among his mentors. Kristjan Randalu’s capacity to move between genres and disciplines is rare: his itinerary in recent months, for instance, has found him premiering new music of his own with the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, performing Arvo Pärt’s Credo with Kristjan Järvi and the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, and also playing duets with Dave Liebman. There are not many contemporary players with this kind of range.

 

Born into a musical family in Estonia in 1978, Randalu grew up in Germany. Both his parents are professional classical pianists, and all of his early music training was purely classical. Hearing Chick Corea’s Inside Out at the age of 13 changed some of his priorities: “It seemed to me so perfect that I thought at first that it must be all notated. And it had all this rhythmic energy, and sound-wise, harmonically and colour-wise was very interesting to me. At that point I had almost no historical jazz references at all -  no early Miles, even, no Coltrane – I would learn about all of that later. But I felt motivated to create my own music with piano and synthesizer and sequencer and soon had my first band. By this point I had already been performing classical music for years and was playing at a serious level, but there was a gap between practicing my Liszt and Chopin and beginning to deal actively with jazz…” The gap was bridged in the following years by studies with a number of notable pianists, including John Taylor and Django Bates. A scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music allowed plenty of opportunities to hear New York’s improvisers at first hand, Ben Monder amongst them.

 

“Later it happened on a couple of occasions that our groups – Ben’s group and my group -- played one after the other at festivals in Germany and we talked several times about doing something together.  But it didn’t happen until a festival organizer in Estonia proposed a duo concert….”

 

Markku Ounaskari and Kristjan Randalu first played opposite each other in a concert series organized by German radio station NDR. Ounaskari was then playing with the second edition of his Kuára group with Trygve Seim on saxes.  When Seim formed his Helsinki Songs project a couple of years later, he invited both Ounaskari and Randalu to be part of it (an ECM album with Seim, Randalu, Ounaskari and Mats Eilertsen is in preparation).

 

Ounaskari has played with all the major Finnish jazz players and with many international jazz musicians including Lee Konitz, Kenny Wheeler, Tomasz Stanko and Marc Ducret.  In addition to his Kuára recording with Samuli Mikkonen and Per Jørgensen, exploring Russian psalms and Finno-Ugrian folk songs in an improvisational context, Markku Ounaskari appears on several ECM recordings with folk singer and kantele player Sinikka Langeland, including Starflowers, The Land That Is Not, The Half-Finished Heaven and The Magical Forest.

 

A musician in the New York City area for over 30 years, Ben Monder has performed with a wide variety of artists, including Jack McDuff, Marc Johnson, Lee Konitz, Billy Childs, Andrew Cyrille, George Garzone, Paul Motian, Maria Schneider, and Marshall Crenshaw. He also contributed guitar parts to the final David Bowie album, Blackstar.  In addition to his own ECM album Amorphae, with Paul Motian, Andrew Cyrille and Pete Rende, Monder appears on Theo Bleckmann’s Elegy and Paul Motian’s Garden of Eden.

 

The Absence trio is touring in April and May.  For details consult Kristjan’s web site www.randalu.com

 

Absence was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in July 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

 

 

 

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LISTEN | BUY NOW
"a reminder of why—and how—the now-defunct group redefined the piano trio. An excellent and highly recommended album.”
– Karl Ackermann, allaboutjazzcom
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, the trio glides and soars through classics of the Great American Songbook, plays breathtaking accounts of hallowed bebop tunes, and tackles a rare, energetic exploration of Coltrane’s “ Moment’s Notice”.
 
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Copyright © 2018 ECM Records. 1755 Broadway, Floor 3. New York, NY 10019. All rights reserved.
 
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Arvo Pärt
The Symphonies

NFM Wrocław Philharmonic
Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor

 

Forty-five years separate Arvo Pärt’s four symphonies, and each one, as the great Estonian composer has noted, is a world unto itself.  Newly recorded and heard in chronological order, they also tell us much about Pärt’s musical and spiritual journey, and the very different ways in which he has exercised his craft - from his early days as a student in 1963 to 2008, by which time he was the world’s most widely-performed contemporary composer.

Pre-order the CD
 
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Ravel / Franck / Ligeti / Messiaen
Duo Gazzana

György Ligeti Duo (1946) / César Franck A major Sonata (1886)
Maurice Ravel Sonate posthume (1897) Olivier Messiaen Thème et variations (1932) 

Natascia Gazzana violin | Raffaella Gazzana piano
 
A sense of discovery is a key theme in the third ECM recital of sisters Natascia and Raffaella Gazzana.  Alongside a landscape of French music for violin and piano, drawing on a multiplicity of inspirations, is a premiere recording of György Ligeti’s Duo.

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Alexander Knaifel
Lukomoriye 

Oleg Malov piano Tatiana Melentieva soprano | Piotr Migunov bass
Lege Artis Choir conducted by Boris Abalian


The fourth New Series album from the St Petersburg-based composer Alexander Knaifel may be his most wide-ranging to date, voyaging from the sacred to the secular and back again via several inspired detours. Luminously quiet, and quietly magical.

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© 2018 ECM Records, a Division of Verve Group. | 1755 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, All rights reserved.

ECM

 

 

 

Elina Duni

Partir

 

Elina Duni: voice, piano, guitar, percussion

 

Release date: April 27, 2018

 

ECM 2587

B0028133-02

UPC: 6025 670 8641 3

 

After two highly ECM acclaimed albums - Matanë Malit and Dallëndyshe - with her quartet, Elina Duni issues her most intimate recording to date. On this entirely solo album, the Tirana-born vocalist accompanies herself on piano, guitar and frame drum, interpreting songs from very diverse sources - from folk songs and chansons to singer-songwriter ballads. Here we find traditional music from Albania, Kosovo, Armenia, Macedonia, Switzerland and Arab-Andalusia as well as Jacques Brel’s “Je ne sais pas”, Alain Oulman’s “Meu Amor”, Domenico Modugno’s “Amara Terra Mia”, Elina’s own “Let Us Dive In” and more. Twelve songs altogether, sung in nine languages: Albanian, German, French, English, Italian, Portuguese, Armenian, Yiddish and Arabic. Elina Duni’s uniquely-expressive voice and her pared-down arrangements locate a common thread of longing that runs through the material, as Partir brings together songs of love, loss and leaving, songs of the pain of separation and the courage to seek new beginnings.

 

Several factors converged to shape and influence the project. On a personal level, the break-up of a long-established relationship had left a cloud of uncertainty over the future of Duni’s quartet. “Would we continue, or wouldn’t we? We decided to take a longer pause. At the time it felt like the end of a big musical project, and I had to find another way to go on.”

 

One possibility was implied in contributions Duni had been making over the last decade to readings by her mother, the novelist, poet and essayist Bessa Myftiu. “We started doing this together in 2008. She would read from her books, and in between I would play songs, usually with guitar and percussion. And through this I gradually started to develop a solo repertoire”. When Duni began to play full solo concerts, she linked the songs with her own texts; these were written originally in French, and affected by the burgeoning refugee crisis which had made the singer reflect upon the meaning of exile in her own biography.

 

In performance, the songs have been presented “in the context of a ‘confession’, inspired by the texts of the songs and by stories I’d made up to emphasize that any of us can, through circumstances we can’t control, find ourselves in a situation where we’re torn away from places and people we care about. And this should, in my opinion, make us feel more solidarity with those who are forced to leave, more solidarity with each other generally. Putting that message across, the solo concerts started to feel like they were about more than just music.”

 

Elina Duni likens the experience of working on solo music, after many years of collaboration, to “withdrawing in a monastery. It’s a metaphysical experience, really, and you start to find out more about your inner resources.” Her almost minimalistic accompaniments on piano and guitar serve the essence of the songs, and her voice, an extremely flexible and subtle instrument, has never sounded better – as is immediately apparent from the beautiful album opener “Amara Terra Mia”. “Lamma Bada Yatathanna” - where the only accompaniment is the diffuse throb of the daf, the frame drum of the Middle East - is another very touching piece, giving full rein to the sinuousness of the Duni voice. The range of expression here is striking. Hear Elina singing “Je ne sais pas”, for instance, and you might well wish for a whole album of Brel interpretations from her. Each song seems to open up another avenue of possibility. In any case, radio programmers will have, with Partir, a broad palette to draw from.

 

How did she select the songs? “I wanted to move away a little from the Albanian-only focus of the last few records, because I’ve always also enjoyed communicating in many languages. The songs came from many places. Some I’ve known for years, some were from other projects - the Armenian song ‘Lusnak Gisher’ came via a theatre production I was involved with. The Arab song ‘Lamma Bada Yatathanna’ was one I knew and liked, and I wanted to sing it, not for political reasons, exactly, but to make a statement. The Yiddish song ‘Ofyn Weg’ was another one I knew and loved. And so on. And then the question was: how can I use the songs to tell a larger story? The idea to sing in nine languages was a decisive one - also, again, to stress the universality of the theme, about leaving, about facing the unknown, and the will to continue.”

 

Partir was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in July 2017, and produced by Manfred Eicher. The album is launched with an international solo tour.  For more information visit www.elinaduni.com

 

ECM

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Elina Duni - Partir

release date April 27, 2018

 

Elina Duni:  voice, piano, guitar, percussion

 

Songs of love, loss and leaving. After two highly acclaimed albums with her jazz quartet, Elina Duni issues her most intimate recording to date.  The entirely soloPartir features the Tirana-born vocalist, accompanied by her own piano, guitar and frame drum, interpreting songs from very diverse sources, from folk songs and chansons to songs of singer-songwriters.  Here we find traditional music from Albania, Kosovo, Armenia, Macedonia, Switzerland and Arab-Andalusia as well as Jacques Brel's "Je ne sais pas", Alain Oulman's "Meu Amor", Domenico Modugno's "Amara Terra Mia", Elina's own "Let Us Dive In" and more.  Duni's uniquely-expressive voice and pared-down arrangements locate a common thread of longing that runs through the material. 

Partir was recorded at Studios La Buissone in the South of France in July 2017, and produced by Manfred Eicher.      

ECM

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Nik Bärtsch's Ronin - Awase

release date: May 4, 2018

 

Nik Bärtsch: piano; Sha: bass clarinet, alto saxophone;

Thomy Jordi: bass; Kaspar Rast: drums

 

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin on tour:

 

May 4 - Montreal, Que @ L'Astral

May 6 - New York, NY @ le poisson rouge

May 8 - Philadelphia, PA @ World Café Live

May 9 - Washington DC @ Blues Alley

May 10 - Chicago, IL @ Constellation

further dates in preparation...

 

"Awase", a term from martial arts, means "moving together" in the sense of matching energies, a fitting metaphor for the dynamic precision, tessellated grooves and balletic minimalism of Nik Bärtsch's Ronin.  Six years have passed since the last release from the Swiss group. In the interim, trimmed from quintet to quartet size and with new bassist Thomy Jordi fully integrated, Ronin has become a subtly different band. Bärtsch speaks of a new-found freedom and flexibility in the approach to the material, with "greater transparency, more interaction, more joy in every performance".   The freedom here extends to revisiting early Bärtsch modules alongside new compositions including, for the first time on a Ronin record, a piece by reedman Sha. Awase was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the south of France in October 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher.  

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ECM

 

 

 

Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin

Awase

 

 

Nik Bärtsch: piano

Sha: bass clarinet, alto saxophone

Thomy Jordi: bass

Kaspar Rast: drums

 

Release date: May 4, 2018

ECM 2603                                  

B0028299-02 (CD)

B0028300-01(Vinyl)

CD UPC: 6025 673 5867 1                                                           

2-LP 180g UPC: 6025 673 5869 5

 

Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin on tour

 

May 4             Montreal, Que         L’Astral

May 6             New York, NY          le poisson rouge

May 8             Philadelphia, PA     World Café Live

May 9             Washington DC      Blues Alley

May 10           Chicago, IL               Constellation

 

*** further dates in preparation

 

Six years have passed since Live, the last release from Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin, the long gap bridged in 2015 with Continuum, an album from Mobile, Bärtsch’s all-acoustic project. “I wanted to give Ronin the peace and space it needed to develop,” says the Swiss composer-pianist. “Not to put it under pressure, and to take all the steps necessary before the next recording.”

 

Awase, recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in October 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher, updates us on the progress of one of the most original bands around, as well as the present-day status of ritual groove music, Bärtsch’s all-purpose term for his self-invented idiom equidistant from jazz and funk and contemporary composition. Almost by definition, rituals can’t be rushed, and Ronin has had some changes to absorb. With bassist Thomy Jordi replacing Björn Meyer in 2011, and percussionist Andi Pupato departing the following year, trimming the line-up from quintet to quartet, Ronin has gradually become a subtly different band. A leaner, more agile animal.

 

Bärtsch speaks of a new-found freedom and flexibility in the approach to the material, with “greater transparency, more interaction, more joy in every performance”. The freedom here extends to revisiting earlier Bärtsch modules alongside new compositions including, for the first time on a Ronin record, a piece by reedman Sha. “We’ve spent a long time working on the new repertoire, really checking out and fine tuning all the details.”

 

Awase, a term from Aikido, means “moving together” in the sense of matching energies, a fitting metaphor for the dynamic precision, tessellated grooves and balletic minimalism of Ronin today. In the old band, Bärtsch often chose to present Björn Meyer’s flamboyant 6-string bass as a lead instrument. Thomy Jordi’s 4-string bass guitar tends to be deployed within the fabric of the pieces, creatively fulfilling a more traditional bass function and locking in with Kaspar Rast’s powerful drums. With Bärtsch also scaling back his own solo playing, listeners are encouraged to hear the whole music and its layered, shifting approach to interaction in new ways.

 

The album opens with an abbreviated version of “Modul 60”, quite unlike the interpretation heard on the Mobile recording. “We’ve always taken the position that the compositions can be played by both groups – Mobile or Ronin – to bring out different aspects of the music. When we did ‘60’ with Mobile, I was hearing it in a very chamber music way and it radiated a sort of bittersweet atmosphere. With Ronin it has a sparseness, an emptiness and a roughness that I really like. In the studio Manfred and I had the idea that it would be nice to play it as a sort of ‘quote’, bringing the story forward from Continuum. So, this new version starts around the middle of the composition…”

 

“Modul 58” is built upon – in Ronin terms – “a simple pattern cycle, just 5 against 7, and the same motif even, but it created such an interesting form. We usually think that metre, rhythm and the start of a piece all begin on the ‘one’, but in a lot of the tribal music styles we admire there is often not such a clear downbeat. ‘58’ becomes a kind of metric mantra which keeps loading itself up until we get to the more open part. You can hear, almost ironically, the simplicity of the two rhythms but you cannot catch them at the same time. In its direction and its energy this piece still feels new to me, although there is something about it that seems archaic.”

 

The role of bass clarinettist and alto saxophonist Sha (born Stefan Haslebacher) has been steadily growing inside Ronin, and this is acknowledged by the inclusion of his composition “A”, which forms a contrasting transition on the album between “Modul 58” and “Modul 36”, while also being an effective piece in its own right. Nik Bärtsch: “When Ronin plays it as an organism it attains an enormous power and it shows, I think, that Sha is developing a personal and unique language as a composer.”

 

“Modul 36” is an old Ronin favorite which introduced the group to ECM listeners back in 2006: “Yes, it was a conscious decision to choose that piece to mark this quartet album also as a kind of new beginning, and to show how things have developed. In terms of structure and clear, fine detail, the compositional aspects – those things remain. But the group feeling is very different and the energy more voodoo-ish, perhaps. And I’m really enjoying playing as part of the band again on ‘36’, rather than soloing.”

 

Written “back in 2002 or 2003”, “Modul 34” receives its premiere recording here. “Sometimes pieces just have to wait until they are ready, or we are ready. Part of the challenge with ‘34’ was not to allow it to become too busy on the one hand, or too formal on the other.”

 

The members of Ronin meet every week, as they have done for many years now, to puzzle out the implications of Bärtsch’s pieces in workshops and performances at the Zürich club, Exil. The group is, says Nik, still coming to terms with the demanding final piece here, “Modul 59”. It is one which, he says, points the way to the future. “It begins from basic ideas, in this case to do with triplets, and builds until it becomes a sort of polyrhythmic, polyphonic carpet of sound. We’ve rehearsed and developed it extensively, and it still keeps surprising us.”

 

Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin are touring widely with the music of Awase in 2018. For details visit www.nikbaertsch.com and www.ecmrecords.com

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ECM

 

 

 

Steve Tibbetts

Life Of

 

Steve Tibbetts: guitar, piano

Marc Anderson: percussion, handpan

Michelle Kinney: cello, drones

Release date: May 18, 2018

 

 

ECM 2599                                                    

B0028330-02

UPC: 6025 672 3545 3

 

 

One-of-a-kind guitarist and record-maker Steve Tibbetts has an association with ECM dating back to 1981, with his body of work reflecting that of an artist who follows his own winding, questing path. The BBC has described his music as “an atmospheric brew… brilliant, individual.” Life Of, his ninth album for the label, serves as something of a sequel to his previous ECM release, Natural Causes, which JazzTimes called “music to get lost in.” Like the earlier album, Life Of showcases the richness of his Martin 12-string acoustic guitar, along with his gamelan-like piano and artfully deployed field samples of Balinese gongs; the sonic picture also incorporates the sensitive percussion of long-time musical partner Marc Anderson and the almost subliminal cello drones of Michelle Kinney. Tibbetts, though rooted in the American Midwest, has made multiple expeditions to Southeast Asia, including Bali and Nepal; not only the sounds but the spirits of those places are woven into his musical DNA as much as the expressive inspiration of artists from guitarist Bill Connors to sarangi master Sultan Khan. Life Of has a contemplative shimmer like a reflecting pool, with most of the album’s pieces titled after friends and family, living and past.

 

After the long break following Tibbetts’ 1994 ECM release The Fall of Us All – a period that saw him collaborate with the likes of Norwegian Hardanger fiddle player Knut Hamre and Tibetan Buddhist nun Choying Drolma – the guitarist has returned to a consistent production schedule for the label in the 21st century. He has released an album via ECM every eight years, with Life Of preceded by the similarly acoustic-oriented Natural Causes (2010) and the fiery, electric A Man About a Horse (2002). These impressionistic, densely layered creations led Jazzizmagazine to note about the guitarist-producer’s style of evocative abstraction: “He seems more interested in radiant sound paintings than… linear structures. The forest is more intriguing to him than the trees.”

 

Tibbetts says the difference between making Natural Causes and Life Of is that he’s “a better piano player now,” adding: “I labor over these records to perhaps an insane degree, but that’s not about achieving any kind of instrumental perfection. So many things in our culture are over-produced now, sanded down to a kind of flawless metallic gleam. I’ve gone more organic as the years have gone on. There’s no compression on this record and just a little EQ, with some mistakes left in. I want the records to have a human, handcrafted quality.”

 

As with Natural Causes, Tibbetts mixed the record in the concert hall of Macalester College,near where he lives in Minnesota. “I take all my gear down to the hall and play the tracks back in the room’s acoustic, capturing the room tone and mixing it that way,” he explains. “I set up two pairs of mics: one pair in the center of the hall, one pair in the back. It allows the hall’s ambience to settle around the piano and percussion, and the room’s natural acoustics help the guitar settle into the piano. It’s a more labor-intensive process, and the effect is perhaps subtle to most ears. But it feels more organic to me, adding some reality to the sound. I suppose it’s like a bay leaf in a soup – it has an intangible effect that adds to the experience.”

 

The album’s key tone generator is Tibbetts’ 12-string guitar, the Martin D-12-20 he got from his father in the late 70s. He has long incorporated into his playing string bends and vibrato inspired by jazz guitarist Bill Connors and blues-rocker Harvey Mandel, as well as the vocalideal that Sultan Khan achieved with his bowed sarangi. “That Martin guitar is now, almost a half-century old, with the frets almost worn flat – and I keep the strings old and kind of dead, something I got from Leo Kottke,” he says. “So, the instrument has a mellow, aged sound, with its own peculiar internal resonance – like it has a small concert hall inside it. I try to bring out that quality by stringing the guitar in double courses, the four lower strings paired in unisons rather than octaves. You really have to physically engage with the strings of this guitar, while also being careful that your touch doesn’t de-tune the strings. But setting it up that way makes it so I can play with the resonant qualities of the wood, drawing out overtones and getting the single string lines to sing’ – which is what I loved about the sound of Sultan Khan, the way he could fill the room like a voice.”

 

Tibbetts plays the piano as kind of virtual gamelan, using the keyboard like a row of gongs and letting it cycle through the structure of a piece. The layers of his guitar and piano interact with the actual gongs and other metallophones Tibbetts sampled in Bali and that he triggers via another 12-string guitar equipped with a MIDI interface. Such tracks as “Life of Mir” also include the subtly placed cello lines of Kinney (who also appeared on Tibbetts’ 1989 ECM disc, Big Map Idea). Then there is the ever-sympathetic percussion of Anderson, who has played on all of Tibbetts’ ECM albums. “Working with Marc is like working with my own hands,” the guitarist says. “I don’t have to tell my hands to find the fretboard – they just do. It’s the same with Marc, after 40 years. I don’t have to ask him to do anything in particular. On his own, he always finds the right drum, the right approach.”

 

About the sound and sensibility of his two most recent albums, Tibbetts says: “I suppose nostalgia inevitably creeps into life at middle age, so it’s fitting that these two records are more about quiet, acoustic reflection and less about shredding on electric guitar, as with A Man About a Horse and The Fall of Us All.” The titles for 10 of the songs on Life Of refer to loved ones or even a person Tibbetts might have observed closely over time while at work in a local coffee shop – “Life of Emily,” “Life of Joel,” “Life of Someone” and so on. This lends abstract music a personal element, even if the titles came independently of the musical inspiration. This is especially so in the scene-setting opener “Bloodwork,” the title of which relates to Tibbetts going through an intense medical procedure to help his sick sister. He says: “It’s simultaneously a very personal word and a very clinical word, which I suppose echoes the experience.”

 

As for the long, if consistent, gaps between albums, Tibbetts concludes: “I’m not churning out a tremendous amount of music, it’s true. But I think my listeners trust me. When I take the time to put something together over a long period and am finally satisfied with it, I think they will be, too.”

 
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Elina Duni:  voice, piano, guitar, percussion
 
Songs of love, loss and leaving. After two highly acclaimed albums with her jazz quartet, Elina Duni issues her most intimate recording to date.  The entirely solo Partir features the Tirana-born vocalist, accompanied by her own piano, guitar and frame drum, interpreting songs from very diverse sources, from folk songs and chansons to songs of singer-songwriters.  Here we find traditional music from Albania, Kosovo, Armenia, Macedonia, Switzerland and Arab-Andalusia as well as Jacques Brel’s “Je ne sais pas”, Alain Oulman’s “Meu Amor”, Domenico Modugno’s “Amara Terra Mia”, Elina’s own “Let Us Dive In” and more.  Duni’s uniquely-expressive voice and pared-down arrangements locate a common thread of longing that runs through the material. Partir was recorded at Studios La Buissone in the South of France in July 2017, and produced by Manfred Eicher.     
 
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Kristjan  Randalu: piano | Ben Monder: guitar | Markku Ounaskari: drums
 
Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu makes his ECM debut with a striking album of his own rigorous-yet-lyrical music, sensitively played by a trio formed especially for this recording, with American guitarist Ben Monder and Finnish drummer Markku Ounaskari.  As an improviser of prodigious technique, once described by Herbie Hancock as “a dazzling piano player”, Randalu’s affinities are with the jazz musicians, but the forms and dynamics of his pieces also reflect a discerning sense of structure, and he has cited composers Erkki-Sven Tüür and Tõnu Kõrvitz amongst his mentors.  Absence was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the south of France in July 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher.
 
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 © *2018 ECM Records US, A Division of Verve Music Group. All rights reserved.

ECM

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Steve Tibbetts - Life Of

release date: May 18,2018

 

Steve Tibbetts:  guitar, piano;

Marc Anderson: percussion, handpan; Michelle Kinney: cello, drones

 

One-of-a-kind guitarist and record-maker Steve Tibbetts has an association with ECM dating back to 1981, with his body of work reflecting that of an artist who follows his own winding, questing path. The BBC has described his music as "an atmospheric brew... brilliant, individual." Life Of, his ninth album for the label, serves as something of a sequel to his 2010 ECM release, Natural Causes, which JazzTimes called "music to get lost in." Like the earlier album, Life Of showcases the richness of his Martin 12-string acoustic guitar, along with his gamelan-like piano and artfully deployed field samples of Balinese gongs; the sonic picture also incorporates the sensitive percussion of long-time musical partner Marc Anderson and the almost subliminal cello drones of Michelle Kinney. Tibbetts, though rooted in the American Midwest, has made multiple expeditions to Southeast Asia, including Bali and Nepal; not only the sounds but the spirits of those places are woven into his musical DNA as much as the expressive inspiration of artists from guitarist Bill Connors to sarangi master Sultan Khan. Life Of has a contemplative shimmer like a reflecting pool, with most of the album's pieces titled after friends and family, living and past. 

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The Steve Tibbetts is, really, really good.  I'll be reviewing it.

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ECM

 

 

 

Marc Sinan and Oğuz Büyükberber

White

 

Marc Sinan: guitar

Oğuz Büyükberber: clarinet, bass clarinet

 

Release date: May 18, 2018

ECM 2558                

UPC: 6025 671 7054 9                              

 

Marc Sinan’s third ECM release is an evocative duo album with Oğuz Büyükberber which subtly covers a lot of ground. The German-Turkish-Armenian guitarist and the Turkish clarinetist have worked together in many contexts since meeting in Istanbul in 2009 and Büyükberber previously appeared on Hasretim: Journey to Anatolia, released in 2013. The individual musical directions of the two players have effectively converged from opposite poles: Marc was trained as a classical guitarist in the western European tradition, but has increasingly been drawn to improvisation and Turkish material, while Oğuz grew up surrounded by Turkish music, and was originally self-taught before heading for the Amsterdam Conservatory, subsequently making his way as both improviser and composer.

 

For White, recorded in Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in October 2016 and produced by Manfred Eicher, both musicians provide new music. Sinan’s five-part “Upon Nothingness” includes his musical response to recordings of songs of Armenian prisoners deported to Germany during the First World War. These historic field recordings are woven into the fabric of Sinan’s pieces, which also make liberal use of electronics, blurring the distinction, as he puts it, “between the real and the surreal”. Oğuz Büyükberber also contributes a series of linked pieces, “There, I-V”, which incorporate completely written areas, guided improvisation and free playing.

 

Sinan and Büyükberber met shortly after the release of Marc’s Fasil album with Julia Hülsmann in 2009, introduced to each other’s music via ECM’s Turkish distributor, Tansu Özyurt. Marc: “Tansu suggested I might like Oğuz’s work, and I did, a lot. His musical approach is both very abstract and very tasteful. So, when I was living in Istanbul for three months in 2012 and had a chance to invite a few musicians for a concert for the Goethe Institute, I contacted him.” That first concert, with Marc, Oğuz and ney player Burcu Karadağ, was based around Sinan’s fragmentation of material by Dimitrie Cantemir, the poet and pioneer in the notating of Ottoman music. Büyükberber continued working with Sinan in contexts including the radio play/audio piece Oksus which Marc describes as “a musical road trip through Uzbekistan”, and the “docufictional” music theater piece Komitas, about the Armenian genocide, which premiered at Berlin’s Gorki theater in April 2015. The field recordings heard now on White were deployed also in the Komitas project.

 

Marc Sinan: “The songs all have a revolutionary background or atmosphere as well as a brokenness that you can sense when you listen to the original recordings. I’m responding to the musical content and the emotional expression in the songs, making audible what they make me feel and sharing my own perception of them by putting them at the core of my compositions.”

 

Authorship of “Upon Nothingness, White” is co-credited to both musicians. Sinan: “It’s basically a solo composition for guitar written by Oğuz and which I changed so much that we now consider it our linking mutual composition. So, it’s also a gesture, recognising that we are very symbiotic as a duo. As the collaboration has developed we’ve become close friends and have an enormous amount of trust in each other’s musical decisions which is, I think, reflected in the way we play together.” Marc Sinan also acknowledges Büyükberber’s influence in the area of electronics: “The guitar is manipulated most of the time on this recording, and that’s not always audible. What interests me mostly is dissolving the clarity of what is real and what is virtual. This is something I’ve been developing since working with Oğuz, though he has gone much further than me in this regard. He also has a second life as a performer of modular synthesizer, which has become part of our recent concerts.”

 

Oğuz Büyükberber was playing electronics – inspired by Ligeti, Varese, Messiaen and Stockhausen (“all the old masters”) - before he became a clarinet player and never really stopped, as he says. “I’ve been using live electronics in performance for close to 20 years, and often use it also to expand my palette as a clarinettist – although in my own compositions on White I’m playing acoustically.” Jazz has also been a major inspirational force in his life. In the early 1990s he worked as “simultaneous translator and tour manager” for artists including Cecil Taylor, Sonny Rollins, Max Roach and Steve Lacy. “These masterful musicians shaped the foundation of my perception of music performance in general, whether we call it jazz or not. I’m totally in love with that tradition.” While acknowledging the formative influence of Eric Dolphy as “inevitable” for a bass clarinet player, he also says he has not felt called to be a “flag carrier for jazz or any other genre.” Nonetheless his most recent recording under his own name features deconstructions of Thelonious Monk (Off Monk on the Kabak & Lin label), and some frequent musical partners have included Simon Nabatov, Jim Black and Gerry Hemingway. For a few years Oğuz worked as an assistant to conductor-composer-trumpeter Butch Morris and recalls with pleasure mediating between Morris’s ensemble and a Turkish Sufi group, an experience that could be seen to prefigure some of Marc Sinan’s experiments between the idioms. “I’ve also worked a lot with Greek musicians and players from all over the Balkans. And I’ve been fascinated and influenced by the overlapping musical traditions across the huge geographical area that stretches from Hungary to Iran.”

 

Concerts with Marc Sinan and Oğuz Büyükberber are currently in preparation. For further information visit their web sites: www.marcsinan.com and www.oguzbuyukberber.com

ECM

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 Marc Sinan / Oğuz Büyükberber - White

 

 

Marc Sinan: guitar, electronics; Oğuz Büyükberber: clarinet, bass clarinet

 

Marc Sinan's third ECM release is an evocative duo album with Oğuz Büyükberber which subtly covers a lot of ground.  The guitarist and the clarinetist have worked together in many contexts since first meeting in Istanbul in 2009, and Büyükberber previously appeared on Hasretim: Journey to Anatolia, released in 2013, as well as in Sinan's music-theatre piece Komitas. The individual musical directions of the two players have effectively converged from opposite poles: Marc was trained as a classical guitarist in the western European tradition, but has increasingly been drawn to improvisation and Turkish material, while Oğuz grew up surrounded by Turkish music, and was originally self-taught before heading for the Amsterdam Conservatory, subsequently making his way as both improviser and composer.  For White, both musicians provide new music. Sinan's five-part "Upon Nothingness" includes his musical response to recordings of songs of Armenian prisoners deported to Germany during the First World War.  These historic field recordings are woven into the fabric of Sinan's pieces, which also make liberal use of electronics, blurring the distinction between the real and the surreal. Oğuz Büyükberber also contributes a series of linked pieces, "There, I-V", which incorporate completely written areas, guided improvisation and free playing.  White was recorded in Oslo's Rainbow Studio in October 2016 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

ECM

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Ketil Bjørnstad - A Suite of Poems

release date: May 18, 2018

 

Anneli Drecker: voice; Ketil Bjørnstad: piano

 

Norwegian-Danish author Lars Saabye Christensen is one of Scandinavia's most widely-praised and prolific contemporary writers.  For many years now, in the course of his travels around the globe, he has been sending "hotel poems" to his friend Ketil Bjørnstad, inviting him to make music out of them. These literary postcards explore a range of moods. Bjørnstad says: "I feel very connected to the lonely, existential perspective of these poems, made in different hotel rooms." For this recording, Ketil worked closely with singer and actress Anneli Drecker, former lead vocalist of pop group Bel Canto. Settings of poetry and other texts form a special category in Norwegian pianist-composer Bjørnstad's discography and A Suite of Poems is a song cycle to put alongside such projects as A Passion for John Donne, Sunrise, and The Light. 

ECM

 

 

 

Ketil Bjørnstad

A Suite of Poems

 

Anneli Drecker: voice

Ketil Bjørnstad: piano

Poems by Lars Saabye Christensen

 

Release date: May 18, 2018

 

ECM 2440                       

UPC: 6025 672 8356 0                                                

 

 

The sky rolls in from the sea

Like blue timber

I am almost awake, lost

Between dreams and departures

Time is not on my side

-          Lars Saabye Christensen

 

Settings of poetry and other literary texts form a special category in the discography of Norwegian pianist-composer Ketil Bjørnstad and A Suite of Poems, recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in June 2016, is a song cycle to put alongside such projects as A Passion for John Donne, Sunrise, and The Light.

 

Norwegian-Danish author Lars Saabye Christensen is one of Scandinavia’s most widely-praised contemporary writers. A prolific author, he published his first book, the poetry collection Historien om Gly in 1976, and won Norway’s Tarjei Vesaas' debutantpris for best newcomer, to be followed in due course by many more literary awards. He has since written more than 40 books, novels and poetry primarily, as well as film scripts.

 

Lars Saabye Christensen and Ketil Bjørnstad – both born in Oslo (Christensen in 1953, Bjørnstad a year earlier) have known each other since they were teenagers. For many years now, in the course of his travels around the globe, Christensen has been sending “hotel poems” to his friend Ketil Bjørnstad, inviting him to make music out of them. “I started writing music to his poems more than 20 years ago,” writes Ketil in his liner note for A Suite of Poems. “His ability to expose the inner conflicts we all bring with us in our suitcases is striking.”

 

Christensen’s literary postcards explore a range of moods. Bjørnstad: “I feel very connected to the lonely, existential perspective of these poems, made in different hotel rooms.” For this recording, Ketil worked closely with singer and actress Anneli Drecker, vocalist of pop group Bel Canto. Ketil and Anneli are also friends of long-standing. Drecker had sung on Bjørnstad’s Grace album, with settings of John Donne, back in 2000, and toured with him. She too had taken to sending Ketil “poetic, sad, or funny” messages from far flung hotels when she was out touring the world with A-ha or Royskopp.

 

“So what is the hidden secret of travelling, and living such a big part of our lives in hotel rooms?”, asks Ketil Bjørnstad. “In a certain sense, we are three of a kind, making this album together.”

 

***

 

Ketil Bjørnstad, described by The Guardian as “a cultural prodigy”, trained initially as a classical pianist, transferring his allegiances to jazz after hearing Miles Davis and Terje Rypdal. Bjørnstad made his first recording, with a quartet that included Jon Christensen and Arild Andersen, in 1973. Another 20 years would pass before he came to ECM, with Water Stories, a collaboration with Rypdal and Christensen. Bjørnstad is also a bestselling and widely translated novelist, and although the composer long kept his two creative currents apart, in recent years there has been much more overt cross-fertilisation. A Passion for John Donne, released in 2014, is inspired by the great English Metaphysical poet who has fascinated the composer for decades. A previous song cycle of Donne settings featured on the album, The Light. The double CD Vinding’s Musictakes the listener into the heart of Bjørnstad’s literary world, and is a sort of “literary soundtrack” to his trilogy of novels about a young Norwegian pianist, Aksel Vinding.

 

Anneli Drecker, born in 1969 in Tromsø first came to international attention in the 1980s as vocalist with Bel Canto, whose synthesizer driven pop music and ‘Arctic electronica’ dreamscapes proved highly influential in the period, and led to collaborations with musicians including Jah Wobble and Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit, as well as many experimentally-inclined Norwegian players. In parallel, Drecker has had a successful career as an actor in Norway, appearing in numerous theater productions, as well as films and TV and also made several solo albums. Anneli Drecker has also set poetry to music, including verse of Arvid Handsen.

 

CD booklet includes texts of all poems and an introductory note by Ketil Bjørnstad

 
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New album: 
J.S. Bach 
Suiten Für Violoncello
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 “A deeply thought-out, very human, sometimes quirky set of performances that speak directly to the listener. Nothing feels as if it is played on autopilot, and the music never loses sight of its dance origins…” - Janet Banks,The Strad
 
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Steve Tibbetts:  guitar, piano
Marc Anderson: percussion, handpan
Michelle Kinney: cello, drones

One-of-a-kind guitarist and record-maker Steve Tibbetts has an association with ECM dating back to 1981, with his body of work reflecting that of an artist who follows his own winding, questing path. The BBC has described his music as “an atmospheric brew… brilliant, individual.” Life Of, his ninth album for the label, serves as something of a sequel to his 2010 ECM release, Natural Causes, which JazzTimes called “music to get lost in.” Like the earlier album, Life Of showcases the richness of his Martin 12-string acoustic guitar, along with his gamelan-like piano and artfully deployed field samples of Balinese gongs; the sonic picture also incorporates the sensitive percussion of long-time musical partner Marc Anderson and the almost subliminal cello drones of Michelle Kinney. Tibbetts, though rooted in the American Midwest, has made multiple expeditions to Southeast Asia, including Bali and Nepal; not only the sounds but the spirits of those places are woven into his musical DNA as much as the expressive inspiration of artists from guitarist Bill Connors to sarangi master Sultan Khan. Life Of has a contemplative shimmer like a reflecting pool, with most of the album’s pieces titled after friends and family, living and past.
 
 
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 © *2018 ECM Records US, A Division of Verve Music Group. All rights reserved.
 
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Elina Duni:  voice, piano, guitar, percussion
 
Songs of love, loss and leaving. After two highly acclaimed albums with her jazz quartet, Elina Duni issues her most intimate recording to date.  The entirely solo Partir features the Tirana-born vocalist, accompanied by her own piano, guitar and frame drum, interpreting songs from very diverse sources, from folk songs and chansons to songs of singer-songwriters.  Here we find traditional music from Albania, Kosovo, Armenia, Macedonia, Switzerland and Arab-Andalusia as well as Jacques Brel’s “Je ne sais pas”, Alain Oulman’s “Meu Amor”, Domenico Modugno’s “Amara Terra Mia”, Elina’s own “Let Us Dive In” and more.  Duni’s uniquely-expressive voice and pared-down arrangements locate a common thread of longing that runs through the material. Partir was recorded at Studios La Buissone in the South of France in July 2017, and produced by Manfred Eicher.     
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“Together since 2001, Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin trim their sails and sharpen their already laser-like focus on Awase, the combo’s first studio release in eight years. Slimming down to a quartet seems to have only intensified Ronin’s near-telepathic discipline and unique triangulation of chamber minimalism, jazz improvisation, and crown-chakra funk. “Locked-in” only begins to describe the superimposed rhythmic cycles and uncanny interplay that defines (the group) as it navigates Bärtsch’s ever-expanding repertoire of “modules.” - Richard Gehr, Village Voice
 
 
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Ketil Bjørnstad - A Suite of Poems

Anneli Drecker: voice; Ketil Bjørnstad: piano
bae81a89-9c0c-4be4-a483-ada234f5c125.jpg
Norwegian-Danish author Lars Saabye Christensen is one of Scandinavia’s most widely-praised and prolific contemporary writers.  For many years now, in the course of his travels around the globe, he has been sending “hotel poems” to his friend Ketil Bjørnstad, inviting him to make music out of them.  These literary postcards explore a range of moods.  Bjørnstad says: “I feel very connected to the lonely, existential perspective of these poems, made in different hotel rooms.” For this recording, Ketil worked closely with singer and actress Anneli Drecker, former lead vocalist of pop group Bel Canto. Settings of poetry and other texts form a special category in Norwegian pianist-composer Bjørnstad’s discography and A Suite of Poems is a song cycle to put alongside such projects as A Passion for John DonneSunrise, and The Light. 
 
 

Marc Sinan / Oğuz Büyükberber - White

Marc Sinan: guitar, electronics | Oğuz Büyükberber: clarinet, bass clarinet
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The guitarist and the clarinetist have worked together in many contexts since first meeting in Istanbul in 2009. The individual musical directions of the two players have effectively converged from opposite poles: Marc was trained as a classical guitarist in the western European tradition, but has increasingly been drawn to improvisation and Turkish material, while Oğuz grew up surrounded by Turkish music, and was originally self-taught before heading for the Amsterdam Conservatory, subsequently making his way as both improviser and composer.  For White, both musicians provide new music.  Sinan’s five-part “Upon Nothingness” includes his musical response to recordings of songs of Armenian prisoners deported to Germany during the First World War.  These historic field recordings are woven into the fabric of Sinan’s pieces, which also make liberal use of electronics, blurring the distinction between the real and the surreal.
 
 
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Edited by GA Russell

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I'd love to have a poster of the cover photo of the Steve Tibbetts album.  Great photo!

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ECM Street- Where the cats all meet.

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Steve Tibbetts guitar, piano | Marc Anderson percussion, handpan
Michelle Kinney cello, drones
 
“Instead of conjuring other worlds, Tibbetts has spent the past 40 years trying to figure out what this one sounds like in its entirety — a quiet, noble quest for one of the most underappreciated musicians of our time. Tibbetts’ exquisite new album, Life Of, is his strongest since 1989’s superb Big Map Idea, and is easily the most elegant of his career. 
Forget about jazz, forget about guitars. Life Of should make beautiful sense to anyone on this vast and unknowable Earth who’s ever spent time listening to the rain.” 
– Chris Richards, Washington Post
 
LISTEN / BUY
 
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“The mechanics of listening to an LP—removing the vinyl platter from the sleeve, placing it on the turntable, perhaps locking it down, moving the arm over, and lowering the cartridge and stylus—impose an unhurried experience….releases from ECM call for such deep listening.”
– Derk Richardson, The Absolute Sound

 
CLICK TO BUY
 
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ECM

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Trygve Seim - Helsinki Songs

release date: August 31st 

 

Trygve Seim:  tenor and soprano saxophones; Kristjan Randalu: piano;

Mat Eilertsen: double bass; Markku Ounaskari: drums

 

With its overt lyricism, strong themes and a sense of perpetual melodic invention, Norwegian saxophonist Trygve Seim's new album quickly identifies itself as a classic-in-the-making.  Themes of dedication run through Seim's Helsinki Songs, a set of tunes composed - for the most part - in the Finnish capital, and radiating tributes in many directions.  Here are songs referencing Igor Stravinsky and Jimmy Webb, pieces dedicated to each of Seim's gifted bandmates, and tunes that tip the hat, obliquely, to Ornette Coleman and Bill Evans.   The quartet plays superbly throughout, with outstanding solos from leader Seim and pianist Kristjan Randalu.  Helsinki Songs was recorded in Oslo's Rainbow Studio in January 2018 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

ECM

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Tord Gustavsen Trio - The Other Side

releasing August 31, 2018 on CD and Vinyl

 

Tord Gustavsen: piano; Sigurd Hole: double bass; Jarle Vespestad: drums

 

Tord Gustavsen Trio on tour

Sep 25 New York, NY (Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola)

Sep 27 Santa Cruz, CA (Kuumbwa)

Sep 28 Stanford, CA (Bing Concert Hall Studio)

Sep 29 Vancouver (BlueShore Financial Centre)

Sep 30 Portland, OR (Classic Pianos)

Oct 2 Minneapolis, MN (Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church)

 

"This is the chill-out as a state of grace, and it can go as deep as you like. Sublime," wrote the Independent on Sunday of the Gustavsen's Trio's Being There, released in 2007.  Over the last decade Tord has experimented with other ensemble forms and formats, but on The Other Side - recorded at Oslo's Rainbow Studio in January 2018 - he returns decisively to the piano trio, with faithful drummer Jarle Vespestad, and excellent new bassist Sigurd Hole. Hole's approach to his instrument, drawing on folk influences as well as modern jazz, is ideally suited to Gustavsen's slowly-developing, deeply melodic pieces. The album, produced by Manfred Eicher, is issued on the eve of a major tour.

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ECM

 

 

 

Tord Gustavsen Trio

The Other Side

 

Tord Gustavsen: piano, electronics

Sigurd Hole: double-bass

Jarle Vespestad: drums

 

Release date: August 31, 2018

ECM 2608                         

CD UPC: 6025 675 1618 7

LP UPC:  6025 675 8251 9

 

 

Tord Gustavsen Trio on tour:

 

September 25        New York, NY         Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola

September 27        Santa Cruz, CA      Kuumbwa

September 28        Stanford, CA          Bing Concert Hall Studio (Stanford Univ)

September 29        Vancouver             BlueShore Financial Centre

September 30        Portland, OR          Classic Pianos

October 2               Minneapolis, MN    Mindekirken Norwegian Lutheran Church

 

 

Pianist Tord Gustavsen began his ECM tenure with three trio albums, released from 2003 to 2007, that enjoyed a remarkable confluence of popular and critical success. JazzTimes described this trilogy as having the potency of “distilled magic,” while the Guardian stated “Gustavsen’s tunes are hypnotically strong, and the integration of bass and drums in his regular trio is total”. In four further recordings for ECM over the past decade, Gustavsen explored the quartet format, as well as worked with an expanded ensemble and vocals. Now, for his return to trio with the album The Other Side, the Norwegian pianist has convened a new working group, which includes ever-faithful drummer Jarle Vespestad – a kindred spirit who has drummed on all of Gustavsen’s albums. There is a new bassist, Sigurd Hole, whose eclectic approach to his instrument – drawing on influences from folk music as well as modern jazz – makes him ideally suited to the pianist’s gradually developing, melodic pieces. The Other Side incorporates Gustavsen’s love for the church music of his village youth and the ancient folk melodies of Norway that have become a passion in more recent years. This mix of compositions and arrangements of chorales ranges from grave beauty to flowing dynamism, marked throughout by the trio’s seemingly telepathic chemistry.

 

Along with being 11 years since Gustavsen’s previous trio album, it has been seven years since the tragic early passing of the group’s original bassist, Harald Johnsen. “I didn’t want to just continue the trio with another bassist,” Gustavsen explains. “Then the quartet I had with Jarle, saxophonist Tore Brunborg and bassist Mats Eilertsen felt so strong that it demanded its own cycles of recording and touring. After that, we did like to explore new songs with electronics and vocals. But following all this, it seemed like the time to bring the piano back as the lead voice. This new version of the trio feels in line with the initial group, even as it exists on another wavelength – it would have to, as it somehow includes all that came in between those first records and now. And, the trio represents Tord’s passion for paradoxically uniting clarity and freedom.

 

The title of The Other Side reflects multiple ideas, it also refers to the trio as being another side of Gustavsen’s music-making from the quartet and vocal explorations of recent years, not to mention his frequent side ventures with choirs, fiddle players and even Iranian musicians. “Then there is also this idea in the title of the way the trio plays as being the other side of virtuosity, a kind of paradoxical virtuosity where you don’t play all the notes you can but merely the notes that are really needed,” he says. “It’s about subordinating your ego to the flow of the music – and that takes a kind of ‘radical listening’ – listen more than you play. That’s a passion the three of us share.”

 

Gustavsen arranged several chorales by Bach for the album, as well as one by 19th-century Danish composer, organist and folklorist Ludvig Mathias Lindeman. Bach’s “Schlafes Bruder” has deep groove led by Vespestad, while Lindeman’s “Kirken, den er et gammelt hus” has a feel that’s alternatively ruminative and rhapsodic, with an electronically shaded intro. “We’re interpreting the church music that I grew up with in an abstract way,” the pianist explains.

 

Gustavsen composed the grooving “Re-Melt” and haunting “Leftover Lullaby No. 4” as divergent responses to the chorale arrangements. He originally wrote the gospel-tinged “Tunnel” and melodic highlight “Taste and See” for a literary festival in the mountains of northwest Norway, where the pieces were played in conjunction with readings; they evolved further as vehicles for the trio. The stately, blue-hued title track and ravishing “Curves” are original pieces that Gustavsen composed at soundchecks on quartet tours, inspired by how the other group members were responding musically to his ideas; the seeds of the quietly atmospheric “Duality” were also sown in that way, but the track ended up as a mostly free improvisation in the studio.

 

Always subtle and lyrical, Gustavsen’s pianism has evolved in recent years to incorporate more modal playing, moving beyond chord changes; through his quartet work and his early experiences as a solo performer, his blending of composition and improvisation has also become freer, more seamless. Both of his trio mates have sensual sounds that complement his own. Sigurd Hole has a lyrical bent on bass, although his arco playing can be expressively percussive. “Sigurd also has a natural way of injecting modal Norwegian folk melodies into the music that makes the group’s connection to these roots stronger,” Gustavsen points out. “The old Norwegian lullabies and dance forms find their way in now almost without us thinking about it.”

 

Gustavsen and Vespestad, musical soul mates, have played hundreds of concerts together. “Early on, in our playing of ballads, we discovered this sense of micro-timing, and loaded minimalism – the feeling that the less we play, the stronger it gets – and this sense has  evolved ever since. Now, we are also stretching out and using more dynamics, but this fundamental experience of ‘essence’ and reduction is always our point of departure. Jarle can groove in such an understated way and play so quietly that all the timbres of the piano can be heard. That said, he has such technical ability. It’s fascinating that beyond his groups with me, he often plays complex music with fierce tempos and a lot of volume and noise. A funny thing is that he’s so attuned to the lyricism in the trio’s music that I can often hear him humming the melody as he plays. That’s rare for a drummer and something that, as a composer, I find touching.”

 

“I like to analyse and break things down in music, of course, but first and foremost, it’s about touching people in the way that I like to be touched in music,” Gustavsen concludes. “That’s the most meaningful part of all this for me, being moved and moving others.”

ECM

 

 

 

Trygve Seim

Helsinki Songs

 

Trygve Seim: tenor and soprano saxophones

Kristjan Randalu: piano

Mats Eilertsen: double-bass

Markku Ounaskari: drums

 

Release date: August 31, 2018

 

 

Norwegian saxophonist Trygve Seim’s eighth ECM album as a leader or co-leader, Helsinki Songs, reaches out to the listener, tugging the ear with its overt lyricism, ethereal atmosphere and air of sustained melodic invention, often with hints of the East. Seim wrote most of Helsinki Songs on sojourns in the Finnish capital, in an apartment with “a composer’s aura.” Back in Oslo, he brought the compositions to life at Rainbow Studio with his simpatico quartet featuring Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu, Norwegian bassist Mats Eilertsen and Finnish drummer Markku Ounaskari. Themes of dedication and tribute run throughout the new album, including pieces referencing Ornette Coleman and Jimmy Webb, as well as tunes dedicated to Seim’s children and bandmates.

It was with his ECM leader debut, Different Rivers, that Seim made an immediate impact on the jazz scene, with the disc winning the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik as Album of the Year in 2001. Since then, the saxophonist has been heard on more than 20 ECM releases, including Sangam with his large ensemble, on multiple albums with the collective The Source, in duos with accordionist Frode Halti and with pianist Andreas Utnem, and on recordings led by Manu Katché and Jacob Young. Recently, Seim has been heard as part of Eilertsen’s septet (Rubicon), with Iro Haarla and symphony orchestra (Ante Lucem) and with singer Sinikka Langeland and Trio Mediaeval (The Magical Forest). As a leader, Seim’s previous ECM release was Rumi Songs, the 2016 album featuring his settings of words by the titular Persian poet, the group including Haltli, cellist Svante Henryson and mezzo-soprano Tora Augestad. The Guardian praised that record as “playful, guileless, accessible,” singling out Seim’s playing for being full of “tonal and melodic surprises.”

A natural improviser, Seim ventured beyond early jazz playing to expand his palette via studies of Arabic music in Cairo; between 2005 and 2010, he collaborated often with Egyptian musician Fathy Salama. Seim has also explored Indian classical traditions, along with being inspired by Armenian duduk virtuoso Djivan Gasparyan – whose influence can be heard unmistakably in the emotive keening of “New Beginning” and “Sorrow March” on Helsinki Songs. In recent years, the saxophonist recognized certain kinships that these traditions – with their scales, modes and melodic arabesques – have with the folk music of his native Norway, even as he has returned to the format of the classic jazz quartet. “After the early ’90s, I was drawn to larger ensembles and small situations, like duos – perhaps unconsciously to avoid the jazz quartet, which has such a weight of history from Lester Young to John Coltrane and on and on,” Seim explains. “But now I’m surrounded in this quartet by players who enable me to really be myself.”

“Kristjan Randalu has technical skills that are beyond belief for me – he can do anything you need to be done at the piano,” the composer says. “But most important is that he can really make the piano sing, which is a rare thing. His touch is so beautiful that when you hear him play a chord, there are more than just those four or five notes in it. There’s soul.” About Eilertsen and Ounaskari, Seim adds: “Mats is such a creative bass player, with a wonderful sound. And Markku was inspired by Edward Vesala and his free, dramatic playing, though he can also play very simply. Mats and Markku also have this great connection with each other, something you can feel.”

The other dedications on Helsinki Songs include “Birthday Song,” which Seim wrote for Eilertsen. “For his 40th birthday, I got Mats a nice bottle of champagne and a Moleskine notebook for composing,” the saxophonist explains. “In that notebook, I wrote four melody notes and a chord – ‘here’s something to get you started,’ I said. Very early the next morning, after our celebrations, I came home a bit drunk and sat down at the piano, playing those four notes and the chord. I ended up ‘stealing’ them to write the rest of ‘Birthday Song’ before I went to sleep. The piece has some longing in it, like your 40th birthday can have.” Seim wrote the sweet-toned album opener “Sol’s Song” for his 7-year-old daughter and the Baroque-referencing “Ciaccona per Embrik” for his 9-year-old son, “although I actually wrote that tune when I first found out that I was going to be a father – when I felt emotions that were both fantastic and frightening, those feelings of a first-time parent.”

The melancholy “Katya’s Dream” was inspired by Seim’s viewing of Coco and Igor, a film about Stravinsky’s early years in Paris and his supposed relationship with Coco Chanel. Katya is the famed composer’s long-suffering first wife, who sacrificed her artistic dreams for those of her husband. When Seim first wrote “Morning Song,” the pianist Andreas Utnem noted hints in its opening to Jimmy Webb’s ballad “The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.” Seim didn’t know that song as a Webb composition, having assumed it was an original by singer Radka Toneff, whose cover was iconic in Norway. Subsequently delving into Webb’s music, Seim became a fan of the American hitmaker – and gave a new coda to “Morning Song” directly inspired by Webb. The album’s closing piece, “Yes, Please Both” manages to reference both a Winnie the Pooh phrase in the title and Ornette Coleman in the sound of the music (with the piano laying out in the introduction, à la Coleman’s classic recordings). Seim explains: “I’ve always been drawn to both free playing as inspired by people like Ornette and this other desire to play simpler, more melodic music.”

Reflecting on his influences, Seim says: “When I was a young boy, my father got me a saxophone, but I was more interested in soccer. Then we went on a long car drive, and he played Jan Garbarek’s ECMalbum Eventyr. I was so touched by it, just by the sound of Garbarek’s saxophone, that I really became interested in the instrument. Even now, that impression never leaves me. It’s something about the special way he produces his tone, but also the fact that while most players are concerned with how many notes they can play, Garbarek is always telling a story on the saxophone. Ever since, I’ve always been drawn to musicians who tell a story through their instruments. And that’s what I hope to do.”

ECM

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Sungjae Son - Near East Quartet

release date: August 31, 2018

 

Sungjae Son: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Suwuk Chung: guitar;

Yulhee Kim: vocal, percussion;  Soojin Suh: drums

with Sori Choi: traditional Korean percussion on "Baram"

 

The Near East Quartet has been a force in Korean music since 2010, juxtaposing elements of contemporary jazz and traditional Korean music with pure sound exploration to create new forms. Saxophonist/clarinetist Sungjae Son and guitarist Suwuk Chung have been members from the outset and the group has been strengthened with the integration of pansori singer Yulhee Kim and highly creative drummer Soojin Suh. On their ECM debut the NEQ plays five compositions by Sungjae Son and three Korean traditionals. Near East Quartet was recorded in Seoul, and mixed at Studios La Buissonne by Nicolas Baillard, Manfred Eicher and album producer Sun Chung.

 
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“This is the chill-out as a state of grace, and it can go as deep as you like. Sublime,” wrote the Independent on Sunday of the Gustavsen’s Trio’s Being There, released in 2007.  Over the last decade Tord has experimented with other ensemble forms and formats, but on The Other Side - recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studio in January 2018 – he returns decisively to the piano trio, with faithful drummer Jarle Vespestad, and excellent new bassist Sigurd Hole. Hole’s approach to his instrument, drawing on folk influences as well as modern jazz, is ideally suited to Gustavsen’s slowly-developing, deeply melodic pieces.
PRE-ORDER CD
 
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With its overt lyricism, strong themes and a sense of perpetual melodic invention, Norwegian saxophonist Trygve Seim’s new album quickly identifies itself as a classic-in-the-making.  Themes of dedication run through Seim’s Helsinki Songs, a set of tunes composed – for the most part – in the Finnish capital, and radiating tributes in many directions.  Here are songs referencing Igor Stravinsky and Jimmy Webb, pieces dedicated to each of Seim’s gifted bandmates, and tunes that tip the hat, obliquely, to Ornette Coleman and Bill Evans.   The quartet plays superbly throughout, with outstanding solos from leader Seim and pianist Kristjan Randalu. 
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The Near East Quartet has been a force in Korean music since 2010, juxtaposing elements of contemporary jazz and traditional Korean music with pure sound exploration to create new forms. Saxophonist/clarinetist Sungjae Son and guitarist Suwuk Chung have been members from the outset and the group has been strengthened with the integration of pansori singer Yulhee Kim and highly creative drummer Soojin Suh. On their ECM debut the NEQ plays five compositions by Sungjae Son and three Korean traditionals.
PRE-ORDER CD
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 © *2018 ECM Records US, A Division of Verve Music Group. All rights reserved.
 
 
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NPR Music's Top 10 Classical Albums Of 2017
“You don't have to be a Scandinavian musicologist to fall in love with Last Leaf, the Danish String Quartet's new album of Nordic folk songs and dances. The fact that the atmospheric "Drømte mig en drøm" (I Dreamed a Dream) is over 700 years old and the rollicking "Stædelil" is based on a Faroese medieval ballad later reworked by Beethoven is not as important as the fluency and grace that infuses these blithesome performances. In the quartet's eloquent, but not overworked, arrangements, you can hear the shuffling feet of dancers and wheezy bagpipes. "Æ Rømeser," from the Danish island of Fanø, mesmerizes, as the whirl of a polka meets a wistful melody. The band stays busy playing Brahms and Haydn — and even contemporary composers like Thomas Adès and Hans Abrahamsen, featured on a superb album released last year. But when it comes to the simple idea of a classical string quartet performing folk tunes, the Danish musicians have exceeded all expectations.”
– Tom Huizenga
New York Times 25 Best Classical recordings of 2017
It is wonderful to hear these superb players let their collective hair down in this collection of (mostly) Scandinavian folk tunes and original material composed in like fashion. This should warm the heart of every fan of fiddling, whether bluegrass, Celtic or Bachian. “
– James Oestreich

 
VINYL / CD / DOWNLOAD / STREAM
 

 

SUMMER CONCERTS

August 7, 8 - Santa Fe NM
St Francis Auditorium / Chamber Music Festival


August 9 - Albuquerque NM
Simms Auditorium / Chamber Music Festival


August 10 - Skaneateles, NY
First Presbyterian Church / Skaneateles Festival


August 12 - Woodstock NY
Maverick Concert Hall


August 14 St John’s, Newfoundland
The Old Church in Admiral’s Cove / Tuckamore Festival

Repertoire will include works from and from their previous
Adès/Norgaard/Abrahamsen recording.
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 © *2018 ECM Records US, A Division of Verve Music Group. All rights reserved.
 

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Thanks for posting. Good to have news of new Seim and Gustavsen albums

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ECM

 

 

 

Sungjae Son

Near East Quartet

 

Sungjae Son: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet

Suwuk Chung: guitar

Yulhee Kim: vocal, percussion

Soojin Suh: drums.

with Sori Choi: traditional Korean percussion on “Baram”

 

Release date: August 31, 2018

 

ECM 2568

UPC: 6025 676 5877 1

 

 

The ECM debut of the Near East Quartet was recorded in Seoul in December 2016. The group, however, has been a force in Korean creative music since 2009, when leader-saxophonist-composer Sungjae Son formed the band with guitarist Suwuk Chung. Singer-percussionist Yulhee Kim and drummer Soojin Suh joined the group in 2015, helping the ensemble get closer to Son’s original vision of a natural music informed by improvisation and drawing upon gugak, the multi-facetted traditional music of Korea.

 

Together the four musicians play a floating music of drifting texture and slowly-blossoming sound colours, expressed through distortion saturated guitar sounds, the delicate tracery of Son’s saxophone, and abstract playing from the drums. Yulhee Kims’s evocative voice conveys messages from pansori epics and folk song. Kim also contributes to the improvisatory flow as percussionist, and on one piece, “Baram”, the quartet is augmented by Sori Choi on traditional Korean percussion.

 

Sungjae Son and Suwuk Chung met each other as Koreans abroad, in Boston, where both were studying. Sungjae was at the Berklee School and Suwuk at the New England Conservatory. “We didn’t really talk, then,” Sungjae recalls. “I was very much into bebop at the time, and Suwuk was more into fusion guitar and some Third Stream ideas [George Russell was among Suwuk’s teachers], and we didn’t find a common interest or background. It wasn’t until many years later when we were back in Korea that we ended up playing a gig together. After the concert I talked to him about wanting to make music with a completely fresh and different approach, and that was the start of the Near East Quartet.”

Meanwhile, Soojin Suh was beginning to make waves as the most interesting young female drummer on the Seoul jazz scene.  Sungjae: “She was a very promising musician, and already quite famous in Korea. Everybody wanted to play with her. And then she, too, left to study in the USA. When she returned she had really grown as a player, and I just fell in love with her sound. She is the one and only drummer in Korea for me.”

 

For the way in which she implies a beat more often than she states it, Suwuk Chung compares Soojin Suh’s drumming to Paul Motian’s. In the Near East Quartet Suh faces special challenges when paraphrasing aspects of traditional Korean music, where percussion roles proceed along a different basis from the grid-like metrical organization of jazz’s time signatures.

 

Soojin Suh talks about the necessity of reduction in this context: “What I try to do is think about what I’m not going to play. I think about what I must remove in this or that part of the music. I listen to the very slow Korean traditional music and the way they play or pound; the way the music breathes is very attractive to me.” She emphasizes that the aspect she wanted to approximate was the often unstated “deep sense of pulse in Korean traditional music.”  

 

Sound and space and silence are important factors in traditional Korean understanding of rhythm, Suwuk Chung agrees, “and forward motion has more to do with the length of a breath than with Western ideas of time keeping. This is one of the elements we are trying to resonate in our group.” This applies both to the traditional music the group has adapted and to Sungjae’s thoughtful compositions, which sometimes take inspiration from the charged emptiness of oriental painting.  Before taking off as an improviser, Sungjae majored in composition, “studying everything from Gregorian chant to Schoenberg. I spent a lot of time with 12-tone music and serial music. But I also listened to Korean traditional music, and to jazz.  My graduation recital was dedicated to Ornette Coleman.”

 

After coming back from the States and his bebop period, Sungjae Son played for a couple of years with one of the masters of Korean percussion, Kim Duk Soo of the SamulNori ensemble, known to ECM listeners for Then Comes The White Tiger, the collaboration with US-Austrian group Red Sun with Linda Sharrock, Wolfgang Puschnig and Jamaaladeen Tacuma. “Kim Duk Soo was reviving the Red Sun idea. Two different elements put side by side – it didn’t feel right to me, or it wasn’t enough. In our group I want to keep the focus on what is natural for us.” He emphasizes the importance of shaping an unforced, organic-sounding music.

 

Yulhee Kim was “singing and dancing, playing percussion and doing something like Korean shamanism” when Sungjae first encountered her in performance. “I was very interested in the shamanic ritual music at that time, and so I asked her to join the band.”

 

Suwuk Chung: “When we rehearsed the new music that Sungjae came up with, we had to come out of our contexts - modern jazz and improvisation on our side, and Yulhee Kim out of Korean traditional music.  We tried to find a common space. That was challenging. You don’t usually listen to female pansori voice with rock guitar sound, without pulse! It was hard to frame those elements in one context.  Soojin helped to find the threads between them.”

European audiences will get their first opportunity to hear the group’s aesthetic blend live in November, when the Near East Quartet plays dates including the London Jazz Festival. 

The Near East Quartet’s ECM debut was recorded at Seoul’s Stradeum studio, then mixed at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France by Nicolas Baillard, Manfred Eicher and album producer Sun Chung.

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Mark Turner / Ethan Iverson - Temporary Kings

release date: September 7, 2018

 

Mark Turner: tenor saxophone; Ethan Iverson: piano

 

Mark Turner and Ethan Iverson on tour:

September 13 Baltimore, MD at An Die Musik Live!

September 15 Chicago, IL at Constellation

September 16-17 Minneapolis, MN at Crooners

September 18 New York, NY at Jazz Standard

September 20 Cambridge, MA at Regattabar

October 10 Denver, CO at Dazzle

October 11 Santa Cruz, CA at Kuumbwa

October 12 Los Angeles, CA at bluewhale

October 14 Portland, OR at Old Church

October 15 Seattle, WA at Earshot Jazz Festival

 

The initial musical connection between saxophonist Mark Turner and pianist Ethan Iverson was made in 1990s jam sessions in New York City, with both going on to individual success - Iverson in hit trio The Bad Plus and Turner as a solo leader and in such groups as the trio Fly (recording in both capacities for ECM). A decade after their first meeting, the saxophonist and pianist began an association in the Billy Hart Quartet, the two players featuring sympathetically on two widely lauded ECM albums by that band. Now with Temporary Kings - their debut on record as a duo - Turner and Iverson explore aesthetic common ground that encompasses the cool-toned intricacies of the Lennie Tristano/Warne Marsh jazz school, as well as the heightened intimacy of modernist chamber music. The album presents six originals by Iverson (such as the nostalgic solo tune "Yesterday's Bouquet) and two by Turner (including "Myron's World," which has acquired near-classic status among contemporary jazz players). There's an off-kilter blues ("Unclaimed Freight") and a strikingly melodic, almost Ravelian opening track dedicated to the Swiss town where the album was recorded ("Lugano"), plus an interpretation of Marsh's playfully serpentine "Dixie's Dilemma." 

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24 minutes ago, GA Russell said:

ECM

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Mark Turner / Ethan Iverson - Temporary Kings

release date: September 7, 2018

 

Mark Turner: tenor saxophone; Ethan Iverson: piano

 

Thanks for the heads-up on this, GA.  It looks very interesting.

I'm adding this CD to my list. :) 

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I'm looking forward to the Gustavsen and the Turner/ Iverson as well!

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“challenging, accessible and hypnotic…”

- Bobby Reed, DownBeat (Editor’s Pick)
LISTEN / BUY
 
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“...quietly riveting.”

 – Michael Agovino, The Village Voice
LISTEN / BUY
 
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“an exceptional addition to Surman’s discography”

– Brian Zimmerman, Downbeat
LISTEN / BUY
 
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“an album of subtle power and lingering splendor.”

– Jim Fusilli, Wall Street Journal
LISTEN / BUY
 
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“it's an atmosphere to soak in at leisure….”

– Geno Thackara, All About Jazz
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“…another poetic work comprising ravishing originals and world-class interpretations of compositions”

– Filipe Freitas, Jazz Trail
LISTEN / BUY
 
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“meaningful tunes (played) with honesty, subtlety and emotion”

– Mark Maxwell, Downbeat
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“not to be missed.”

– John Kelman, All About Jazz
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“further chapters of this group will be eagerly anticipated. Terrific stuff.”

– CJ Shearn, Jazz Views
LISTEN / BUY
 
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© 2018 ECM Records, a Division of Verve Group. | 1755 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, All rights reserved.
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CJ Shearn makes ECM's press release!!!

Edited by GA Russell

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Marcin Wasilewski Trio - Live

release date: September 14, 2018

 

Marcin Wasilewski: piano; Slawomir Kurkiewicz: double bass;

Michal Miskiewicz: drums

 

For years, fans of Poland's Marcin Wasilewski Trio have been asking for a live album and now, here it is. Recorded at the Jazz Middelheim Festival in Antwerp, Belgium, in August 2016, it captures the trio in energetic, extroverted mode, fanning the flames of their Spark of Life repertoire and drawing on the deep understanding Marcin Wasilewski, Slawomir Kurkiewicz and Michal Miskiewicz have established in the course of a quarter century of shared musical endeavor. As UK magazine Jazz Journal has noted, "Wasilewski's music celebrates a vast dynamic range, from the most deftly struck pianistic delicacies to gloriously intense emotional exuberance, the chords pounded with unrestrained joy, yet always within a marvelously melodic concept."

ECM

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Barre Phillips - End To End

release: September 14, 2018

 

Barre Phillips: double bass

 

Barre Phillips was the first musician to record an album of solo double bass, back in 1968, and he has always been an absolute master of the solo idiom.  In March 2017, Barre recorded what he says will be his last solo album, the final chapter of his "Journal Violone": it is a beautiful and moving musical statement.  All the qualities we associate with Barre's playing are here in abundance - questing adventurousness, melodic invention, textural richness, developmental logic, and deep soulfulness.  End to End was recorded at Studios-La-Buissonne in the south of France, and produced by Manfred Eicher. The album will be issued in both CD and LP formats.

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Mark Turner & Ethan Iverson

Temporary Kings

 

Mark Turner: tenor saxophone

Ethan Iverson: piano

 

Release date: September 7, 2018

 

ECM 2583

B0028859-02

UPC: 6025 673 6988 2

 

 

Mark Turner & Ethan Iverson on tour

 

September 13          Baltimore, MD         An Die Musik Live!

September 15          Chicago, IL              Constellation

September 16-17    Minneapolis, MN    Crooners

September 18          New York, NY          Jazz Standard

September 20          Cambridge, MA       Regattabar

 

October 10               Denver, CO              Dazzle

October 11               Santa Cruz, CA       Kuumbwa

October 12               Los Angeles, CA    bluewhale

October 14               Portland, OR            Old Church

October 15               Seattle, WA              Earshot Jazz Festival

 

 

The initial musical connection between saxophonist Mark Turner and pianist Ethan Iverson was made in 1990s jam sessions in New York City. A decade after their first meeting, the saxophonist and pianist began an association in the Billy Hart Quartet, the two players featuring on two widely lauded ECM albums by that band. Now with Temporary Kings – their debut on record as a duo – Turner and Iverson explore aesthetic common ground that encompasses the cool-toned intricacies of the Lennie Tristano/Warne Marsh jazz school, as well as the heightened intimacy of modernist chamber music.

 

Temporary Kings presents six originals by Iverson (such as the nostalgic solo tune “Yesterday’s Bouquet”) and two by Turner (including “Myron’s World,” which has acquired near-classic status among a generation of jazz players). There’s an off-kilter blues (“Unclaimed Freight”) and a strikingly melodic, almost Ravelian opening track dedicated to the Swiss town where the album was recorded (“Lugano”), plus an interpretation of Marsh’s playfully serpentine “Dixie’s Dilemma.” 

 

Undergirding their common history onstage and in the studio, Iverson and Turner share aesthetic enthusiasms, ranging from literary science fiction to a certain free-minded classicism in music. The sessions for Temporary Kings at the RSI Svizzera studio with Manfred Eicher were characteristically marked by deep listening and an appreciation for what Iverson calls “magical confluences” and “happy surprises,” such as the dovetailing melodic phrases in the improvisations of “Lugano.” About the atmosphere of the recording, Turner says: “The studio is essentially a small, intimate concert hall. We played in the same room and didn’t have to wear headphones. There was a peaceful, slightly austere atmosphere – ideal for the kind of music we were recording.”

 

Iverson adds: “We were playing in a spacious, almost abstract way, not going for a hard-edged jazz sound at all. That said, there’s a blues on the album, my tune ‘Unclaimed Freight,’ and ‘Dixie’s Dilemma’ is a contrafact on ‘All the Things You Are.’ But that chamber-music vibe is there, too. The school of Tristano, Marsh and Lee Konitz has its connections to the world of modernist chamber music, and we think it’s important to underscore these connections.”

 

Turner – whose tune “Lennie’s Groove” on the Billy Hart Quartet’s One Is the Other album was a nod to the influence of Tristano – adds: “The Warne Marsh aesthetic is part of both our worlds, and we wanted to include a jazz classic on the album, to underscore our connection to that aesthetic. I like ‘Dixie’s Dilemma’ for its dry-toned, laconic quality, a sound he shared with Tristano and Konitz. The appeal of the tune like that is based more on its content than drama, so the content has to be very strong, melodically, harmonically and rhythmically.”

 

About their interaction as a duo, Iverson says: “Mark makes me listen harder, something I try to do all the time, but if you’re going mano-a-mano with Mark Turner, your ears have to be fine-tuned, very sharp. Mark is dedicated to truth and beauty on a level higher than most people. It’s not only what he plays – it’s what he represents, his integrity artistically and personally. That’s why, along with his great skills as an improviser, so many musicians hold him in such esteem.” For his part, Turner says: “Among the things I like about Ethan is that he makes a point of being personal, of playing things that are musically his own, particularly when it comes to the harmonic realm and voice-leading. Even if he plays the same chords as another piano player, they sound distinctive when he uses them.”

 

Along with the deeply intricate “Myron’s World” – which Iverson calls “so challenging to play but also incredibly satisfying” – Turner also contributed the closing piece, “Seven Points,” a tone poem that has a mysterious, almost cinematic tension and a beautiful melody that at times seems to share the air, with opener “Lugano,” of early 20th-century Parisian modernism. Along with “Lugano,” Iverson’s originals on the album include the elliptical “Temporary Kings,” “Third Familiar” and “Turner’s Chamber of Unlikely Delights,” each piece having the feel of contemporary chamber music, albeit with an essentially free spirit – the two players following each other in spirals of improvisation off the written material. The purity of Turner’s tone is ideal in these pieces, with Iverson’s keyboard tracery to match. Then there is the pianist’s blues in G, “Unclaimed Freight.” Recalling the trick of capturing that distinctly jazzy piece, Turner says: “It can be hard to get the feeling of movement in the music when you’re in the studio, without the vibe of an audience. But with Ethan’s blues, I think we achieved it. You could almost hear a drummer – I felt a little wind at my back.”

 

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The Ohio-born, Los Angeles-raised Mark Turner is one of the most admired saxophonists of his generation, renowned for his exploratory intellect and intimate expressivity on the full range of the tenor horn. For ECM, the New York-based musician released his sixth album as a leader, Lathe of Heaven, in 2014. The quartet for Lathe of Heaven included trumpeter Avishai Cohen, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore, with The Guardian describing the band appreciatively as “sounding like Birth of the Cool floated over a 21st-century rhythmic concept.” That album followed two for the label in the cooperative trio Fly with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard (Sky & Country and Year of the Snake), along with appearances on key ECM recordings by Billy Hart (All Our Reasons and One Is the Other) and Enrico Rava (New York Days). About Turner, National Public Radio has said: “He has an innovative sonic signature, a certain floating chromaticism, rhythmic mindfulness and lightness of tone, filled with subtleties. Basically, his music has personality, which keeps the best musicians ringing his phone, and the aspiring ones listening hard.”

 

A native of Wisconsin but based in New York City since 1991, Ethan Iverson was long known as one-third of genre-bounding trio The Bad Plus, which he founded in 2000 with bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King. The group produced a dozen studio albums and two live albums together before Iverson left the band at the end of 2017. Beyond that body of work, Iverson has worked with artists from Lee Konitz, Albert “Tootie” Heath and Ron Carter to Joshua Redman, Kurt Rosenwinkel and Tim Berne, along with serving as music director for the Mark Morris Dance Group. A member of the Billy Hart Quartet since 2003, Iverson has recorded three albums with the group, including the most recent two for ECM. The pianist teaches at the New England Conservatory, and he has established Do the Math as one of the foremost blogs in jazz over the past decade. Time Out New York selected Iverson as one of 25 essential New York jazz icons, describing him as “perhaps NYC's most thoughtful and passionate student of jazz tradition – the most admirable sort of artist-scholar.”

ECM

 

 

 

Marcin Wasilewski Trio

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