GA Russell

ECM Press Releases for New Items

230 posts in this topic

 
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Wadada Leo Smith trumpet; Bill Frisell guitar; Andrew Cyrille drums  

Lebroba featuring Andrew Cyrille, Bill Frisell and Wadada Leo Smith brings together three of creative music’s independent thinkers, players of enduring influence.  A generous leader, Cyrille gives plenty of room to his cohorts, and all three musicians bring in compositions.  In his own pieces Cyrille rarely puts the focus on the drums, preferring to play melodically and interactively, sensitive to pitch and to space - his priority today is an elliptical style in which meter is implied rather than stated.

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Wolfgang Muthspiel guitar; Ambrose Akinmusire trumpet; Brad Mehldau piano; Larry Grenadier double bass; Eric Harland drums 

Muthspiel’s “lyrical and painterly style” has won him many admirers. Where The River Goes carries the story forward from  the highly-acclaimed 2016 recording Rising Grace. Featuring a cast of heavyweight talent (Mehldau, Akinmusire, Grenadier, Harland), this is much more than an “all-star” gathering. The group plays as an ensemble with its own distinct identity, evident both in the interpretation of Muthspiel’s pieces and in the collective playing.  

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Shai Maestro piano; Jorge Roeder double bassOfri Nehemya drums 

The first ECM leader date for Shai Maestro features the gifted pianist fronting his superlative trio in a program predominantly of characteristically thoughtful Maestro originals. “Hearing the Shai Maestro Trio is like awakening to a new world”, All About Jazz has suggested. “Expressions of joy, introspective thoughts and heightened intensity all come to the fore.” Maestro’s differentiated touch is special; he can convey a range of fleeting emotions in a single phrase.

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Mark Turner tenor saxophone; Ethan Iverson piano

This album marks the recording debut of Turner and Iverson in duo. Years after their first meeting at NYC jam sessions, and following much individual success (Turner as a leader and in demand sideman, and Iverson in hit trio The Bad Plus) they re-connected as part of the exhilarating and widely-lauded Billy Hart Quartet. On Temporary Kings, they explore aesthetic common ground that embodies the heightened intimacy of modernist chamber music in a program of predominantly original compositions.

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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 this journey: it is a beautiful and moving musical statement.  All the qualities we associate with his playing are here in abundance – questing adventurousness, melodic invention, textural richness, developmental logic, and deep soulfulness.

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Marcin Wasilewski piano; Slawomir Kurkiewicz double bass; Michal Miskiewicz drums

This live recording captures the trio in energetic, extroverted mode, fanning the flames of their previously recorded repertoire and drawing on the decades-long deep understanding the musicians have established over 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, all within a marvelously melodic concept.”

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

                                                                                        This poetically attuned group follows its ECM studio album of Streams (2016) – which The New York Times lauded as “ravishing”-  with an album recorded live over two nights in New York City.  Bay of Rainbows  rolls on waves of contemplative emotion, with gradually enveloping lyricism the lodestar. Recast intimately and elastically for trio, the pieces are illustrative of Bro and company’s ability to push and pull the music into mesmerizing new shapes, onstage and in the moment.

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 © *2018 ECM Records US, A Division of Verve Music Group. All rights reserved.
 
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Mats Eilertsen Trio - And Then Comes The Night 

release date February 1, 2019

 

Harmen Fraanje: piano; Mats Eilertsen: double bass; Thomas Strønen: drums 

   

Norwegian bassist Mats Eilertsen has been a distinctive presence on ECM recordings by, amongst others, Tord Gustavsen, Trygve Seim, Mathias Eick, Nils Økland, Wolfert Brederode and Jakob Young and has long maintained several projects of his own, including this trio, now in its 10th year of existence. And Then Comes The Night (named after the novel by Icelandic writer Jón Kalman Stefánsson) was recorded at the Audiotorio Stelio Molo in Lugano and Eilertsen,  drummer Thomas Strønen, and Dutch pianist  Harmen Fraanje make full use of what Mats calls the studio's "special character and atmosphere" and the acutely-focused interplay the room encourages.  "We came in with a number of compositional sketches and the intention of seeing what could be shaped from them, with Manfred Eicher's help, in that specific space." The result is an album of subtle group music, sidestepping many of the conventions of trio playing, in a recording that demands and rewards concentrated listening.   

 

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Yonathan Avishai - Joys and Solitudes 

release date January 25, 2019

  

Yonathan Avishai: piano; Yoni Zelnik: doublebass; 

Donald Kontomanou: drums 

  

Israeli-French pianist Yonathan Avishai has made important contributions to the music of Avishai Cohen, as documented on Into The Silence and Cross My Palm With Silver.  In parallel, over the last five years, he has been developing his own project with the trio heard here, with Paris-based Israeli bassist Yoni Zelnik and Donald Kontomanou, French drummer of Guinean and Greek heritage. Sometimes known as the Modern Times Trio, its programming here opens with Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo": "Ellington is still a thoroughly modern pianist and composer," Yonathan Avishai muses. In the original pieces that follow, Avishai makes references to a broad range of musics and experiences. "Les pianos de Brazzaville" recalls his journeys to the Republic of the Congo.  "Tango" is a creative response to hearing Dino Saluzzi and Anja Lechner's Ojos Negros.  "When Things Fall Apart" is inspired by the compositions of Avishai Cohen.  Such diverse influences are filtered through Yonathan's tradition-conscious piano playing, alert to old values of blues feeling and swing yet also strikingly original in its decisiveness and concision. Joys and Solitudes was recorded at the Lugano Auditiorio Stelio Molo RSI, in February 2018, and produced by Manfred Eicher.  

 

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Ralph Alessi - Imaginary Friends 

release date February 1, 2019

  

Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Ravi Coltrane: tenor and sopranino saxophones; 

Andy Milne: piano; Drew Gress: double-bass; Mark Ferber: drums  

                            

Trumpeter Ralph Alessi's first two ECM albums as a leader - Baida (2013) and Quiver (2016) - justly earned him high praise. The New York Times lauded the "elegant precision and power" of Baida, while The Guardian extolled Quiver, pointing to the leader's "flawless technique and ability to draw on jazz tradition while avoiding its clichés." After those quartet discs, Alessi's third ECM album, Imaginary Friends, presents him fronting a longtime working quintet in its first recording since 2010. Alessi's bandmates include a kindred spirit in saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, a studio and stage partner of the trumpeter's since they were students together at the California Institute of the Arts in the late '80s. They are joined by pianist Andy Milne and drummer Mark Ferber, both making their ECM debuts, plus bassist Drew Gress, who played on Baida and Quiver. The nine Alessi compositions of Imaginary Friends include an irresistible highlight in "Iram Issela," with its rich seam of bittersweet melody and exceptional soloing by Coltrane setting the scene for an album of quicksilver beauty.

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ECM

 

 

 

Mats Eilertsen Trio

And Then Comes The Night

 

Harmen Fraanje: piano

Mats Eilertsen: double bass

Thomas Strønen: drums

 

Release date: February 1, 2019

ECM 2619                              

B0029588-02

UPC: 6025 7702 567 9                                  

 

In 2016, the release of Mats Eilertsen’s album Rubicon gave notice of the breadth of the Norwegian bassist’s compositional range as well as his capacity to direct an ensemble of strong individual voices. Long an important contributor to ECM recordings, and appearing on albums by Tord Gustavsen, Trygve Seim, Mathias Eick, Nils Økland, Wolfert Brederode, Jakob Young and more, Eilertsen has concurrently maintained projects of his own, including the present trio, now in its tenth year of existence.

 

The new album (named after the novel Summer Light, And Then Comes The Night by Icelandic writer Jón Kalman Stefánsson) is the trio’s first for ECM, and follows two discs on the Hubro label.  It was recorded in May 2018 at Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo and Eilertsen, drummer Thomas Strønen, and pianist Harmen Fraanje make full use of what Mats calls the studio’s “special character and atmosphere” and the acutely-focused interplay the room seems to encourage. Mats explains: “We came in with a number of songs and compositional sketches and the intention of seeing what could be shaped from them, what could be carved out, with Manfred Eicher’s help, in that specific location.  Playing totally acoustically and without headphones, we could work with fine detail in the improvising and really give the music space to sing out in the natural reverb of the room.”

 

The result is an album of subtle and luminous group music, sidestepping many of the conventions of trio playing, in a recording that demands and rewards concentrated listening. “There is almost no theme-solo-theme playing on this album,” Eilertsen notes. “It’s more like a river or whirlpool of moods that carries you with it.”

 

The album opens and closes with variations of the sombre “22”, titled for the 22nd of July 2011, when it was composed by Eilertsen in stunned response to news of the attacks on the island of Utøya. “It wasn’t conceived as a homage,” he says quietly. “It was just what I did that day.”

 

Some pieces on the album are more “written” than others. “Sirens” for instance, “moves once through the written material, with Harmen, of course, having the freedom to respond to it as he chooses. He’s such a brilliant player and will discover another dimension in the material that I present to him. The same goes for Thomas’s drumming, where no parts are written.” Sensitized overlapping of deep pulses from double bass and the unpitched throb of the gran casa drum intensify the sense of mystery at the bottom end of the music. 

 

“The Void” is an older Eilertsen piece, which draws an improviser into its emptiness.  “It’s a piece I’ve played for many years in many different ways. Live, it can open up into total freedom….Here the piano part is very close to the way it was composed.”

 

 

Pianist Harmen Fraanje played on Mats’ Rubicon, but the association with Eilertsen goes back to 2001, when Mats was living in the Netherlands.  “I actually met Harmen in my very last week in Holland, and we played a gig together. That was the start of things.” Harmen and Mats worked for a while with Belgian drummer Teun Verbruggen, before Thomas Strønen was drafted into the line-up.  Eilertsen and Strønen already had shared history: both had studied in Trondheim, and they had played in numerous groups together. 

 

One early collaboration was on the debut album of the band Food, recorded in 1998: Mats played in the original incarnation of this group, alongside Strønen, Iain Ballamy and Arve Henriksen. A first shared recording on ECM was with the Strønen-led improvisational band Parish in 2004, where drummer and bassist collaborated with pianist Bobo Stenson and saxophonist and clarinettist Fredrik Ljungkvist.

 

Recent recordings with Mats Eilertsen include Trygve Seim’s Helsinki Songs and Mathias Eick’sMidwest.  In addition to co-leadership of Food, whose ECM albums are This Is Not A Miracle, Mercurial Balm, and Quiet Inlet, Thomas Strønen leads the ensemble Time Is A Blind Guide whose eponymously titled first album was followed in 2018 by Lucus.      

 

Harmen Fraanje has been hailed by All About Jazz as “one of the most impressive young European pianists” of the last decade. Active across a wide area of jazz and improvisation, he leads and co-leads several projects of his own, and has played with musicians including Ambrose Akinmusire, Mark Turner, Kenny Wheeler, Thomas Morgan, Tony Malaby, Han Bennink, Ernst Reijseger, Theo Bleckmann, Ben Monder, Enrico Rava, Louis Moholo, Ferenc Kovács, Rudi Mahall and Trygve Seim.

 

And Then Comes The Night is issued as the Mats Eilertsen Trio embarks on a European tour with concerts in France, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Norway. Dates include Sunside Jazzclub, Paris (January 29), Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham (January 30), Unterfahrt, Munich (January 31), Nasjonal Jazzscene Victoria, Oslo (February 1), Brorson Kirke, Copenhagen (February 3), Schloß Elmau, Elmau  (February 5),  Paradox, Tilburg (February 6),  Bimhuis, Amsterdam (February 7), Vredenburg, Utrecht (February 8),  Arena, Moss (February 10),  and UriJazz, Tonsberg (March 20). Further plans for the next year include concerts in which the Mats Eilertsen Trio joins forces with vocal group Trio Mediaeval.
 

ECM

 

 

 

Ralph Alessi

Imaginary Friends

 

Ralph Alessi: trumpet

Ravi Coltrane: tenor and sopranino saxophones

Andy Milne: piano

Drew Gress: double-bass

Mark Ferber: drums

 

Release date: February 1, 2019

 

ECM 2629                              

B0029592-02

UPC: 6025 770 1817 6                                  

 

 

Ralph Alessi and the band to perform at Winter Jazzfest

January 11th on the ECM stage at le poisson rouge

 

 

Trumpeter Ralph Alessi’s first two ECM albums as a leader – Baida (2013) and Quiver (2016) – justly earned him high praise. The New York Times lauded the “elegant precision and power” of Baida, while The Guardian extolled Quiver, pointing to the leader’s “flawless technique and ability to draw on jazz tradition while avoiding its clichés.” After those quartet discs, Alessi’s third ECM album, Imaginary Friends, presents him fronting a longtime working quintet in its first recording since 2010. Alessi’s bandmates include a kindred spirit in saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, a studio and stage partner of the trumpeter’s since they were students together at the California Institute of the Arts in the late ’80s. They are joined by pianist Andy Milne and drummer Mark Ferber, both making their ECM debuts, plus bassist Drew Gress, who played on Baida and Quiver. The nine Alessi compositions of Imaginary Friends include an irresistible highlight in “Iram Issela” (the title being his 8-year-old daughter’s name spelled backward). The track’s rich seam of bittersweet melody – and exceptional soloing by Coltrane – sets the scene for an album of quicksilver beauty.

 

Alessi – after recording his first ECM album at New York’s Avatar and his second at Oslo’s Rainbow – convened his quintet for Imaginary Friends in France at La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines (where the trumpeter had previously worked as part of the ensemble for pianist Florian Weber’s label debut as a leader, Lucent Waters). Alessi and company joined ECM founder Manfred Eicher in the studio after more than a dozen performances across Europe, with the trumpeter’s compositions “developing on tour,” he recalls. “We had hit the music hard on the road and were hot when we got in there with Manfred. We were confident with the material, relaxed but focused – the vibe was great.”

 

Working with Eicher has inevitably influenced Alessi’s manner of music-making, he says: “The sound of the records and the general aesthetic vision has inspired a certain side of me. Manfred encourages you to respect the space in the music, and that approach resonates with me, and pulls the band in, too. We slow down a bit and make the most of the space within the music, resisting the natural urge to fill up every space with notes. It isn’t easy to do – it requires a certain discipline.”

 

Over the past decade and a half, Alessi’s working quintet has often gone by the moniker This Against That, with this version of the lineup making two previous albums together and touring extensively. The trumpeter has a particularly strong relationship with Coltrane, since becoming friends as students. “It has been a wonderful thing witnessing Ravi mature as a musician,” Alessi says. “He has such a beautiful sound, with a distinctive voice on the instrument – not an easy thing on the tenor sax, in particular. He has acquired a new level of depth in recent years and sounds great on this new album, so centered and free in the way he expresses himself on the horn. Ravi plays such a moving solo on ‘Iram Issela’ that it brought tears to my eyes. His patient, unhurried manner of playing has also been inspiring, with his sense of phrasing and rhythmic vocabulary bringing something out of me that I really like. Where we solo together on the album’s title track was an especially great studio moment.”

 

Alessi played with Milne in saxophonist Steve Coleman’s band in the mid-’90s. “Andy is such a dynamic pianist,” the trumpeter says. “Those days playing very rhythmic music in Steve’s band only scratched the surface of what he could do. He can also create such a meditative feel with his soloing, like in ‘Iram Issela’ and ‘Melee,’ for instance. He has a way of being focused and taking his time with an idea, and that’s something I’m always drawn to in a player. At the end of the record, we included a brief duet with the two of us, just playing through the melody in a rubato fashion. He can be more grooving, too, of course, as in ‘Fun Room.’ Andy also adds a prepared-piano element to the album, subtly expanding the sound of a track like ‘Pittance’.”

 

Ferber leads off “Fun Room” with a rolling, richly musical drum solo, while a ruminative Gress arco solo helps color “Imaginary Friends.” As a rhythm battery in tandem, “Drew and Mark’s musicianship and command of the music are always rock solid,” Alessi explains, “and their level of listening could hardly be more profound – the radar is always on with those two.”

 

Born in 1963, Alessi himself has long been renowned as a musician’s musician, a first-call New York trumpeter who can play virtually anything on sight and has excelled as an improviser in groups led by not only Coleman, Coltrane and Weber but also the likes of Uri Caine and Don Byron, along with duetting with Fred Hersch and leading his own groups. Over the past half-decade, Alessi’s prolific composing has ripened, and he has only evolved further as a trumpeter, his gorgeous sound floating expressively above the band or slicing dynamically through it. DownBeat described his playing this way: “Alessi works between the notes, his thoughtful, conversational solos as meditative as a calligrapher’s art, each line free-flowing and declarative but with immaculate shape and beauty.” Praising his abilities as a leader, LondonJazz said: “Alessi’s stock-in-trade is to make the angularities and asymmetries of complex tunes sound natural, to assert their logic, to lead. There is always a sense of direction.”

 

Reflecting on the making of Imaginary Friends alongside Coltrane, Milne, Gress and Ferber, Alessi concludes: “After all these years of being friends and playing in this band and various others together, it’s great to have arrived at a moment when we could make a record like this for ECM.”
 

ECM

 

 

Yonathan Avishai

Joys and Solitudes

 

Yonathan Avishai: piano

Yoni Zelnik: double bass

Donald Kontomanou: drums

Release date: January 25, 2019

ECM 2611                        

B0029591-02

UPC:  6025 675 1624 8                                                        

 

Israeli-French pianist Yonathan Avishai has made important contributions to the music of Avishai Cohen, as documented on the ECM albums Into The Silence and Cross My Palm With Silver. In parallel, over the last five years, he has been developing his own project with the trio heard here, with Paris-based Israeli bassist Yoni Zelnik and Donald Kontomanou, French drummer of Guinean and Greek heritage.  Sometimes known as the Modern Times Trio, the group re-examines shifting meanings of modernity in the course of its work.  The new album opens with Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo”, a composition written in 1930, and for Yonathan still very much up-to-the-minute. “Ellington is a thoroughly modern pianist and composer,” he muses. “His way of telling a story with his playing influenced me, and ‘Mood Indigo’ is a song I’ve loved for a long time.” In the original pieces that follow, Avishai makes reference to a broad range of musics. Uniting the different inspirational sources is a feeling that Yonathan is digging deep for the essential in his playing and writing. Ornamentation is rigorously trimmed; not a note is wasted here. Old values like swing and blues feeling still apply in Avishai’s forward-looking concept. The music keeps dancing in the spaces between phrases.

 

“I do feel very much rooted in the tradition. First of all I love history and the perspectives that study of it brings.  And I’m interested in all of jazz history, from Louis Armstrong to Cecil Taylor and beyond.” Asked to define the moment when he recognized the characteristics of his own style he replies, “I think it has to do with recognizing the things that you can’t do. I’m not only talking about skills but understanding the contexts in which your own voice is most expressive.  I saw at some point that I become more expressive with less notes. And when you listen to Lester Young or Louis Armstrong and you see how they can make you cry in eight bars….” It’s an economy to aspire to, he implies.

 

Born in Tel Aviv, Yonathan Avishai spent his early years in Japan, where his father was studying. “My parents were people concerned with art and culture and exposed me to a great deal of it in Japan. I saw a lot of kabuki plays, for instance, and became a real fan.  I feel the influence of this period stayed with me somehow, a sensitivity to a certain kind of aesthetics and energy – and although I don’t particularly like the word, a taste of ‘minimalism’ is part of my work, and perhaps that could be traced that back to kabuki.”  

 

Returning to Israel, Yonathan, as he puts it, “basically grew up alongside Avishai Cohen.” The pianist and trumpeter starting playing together at thirteen and have collaborated almost continuously ever since. “We went to the same school, lived in the same neighbourhood and went through very similar experiences in discovering jazz.”  In Yonathan’s case, the process was a kind of backwards journey – reversing through hiphop, funk and fusion to the core of the tradition.  His growing interest in jazz was supported by relatives in France, who would send cassette tapes to Israel: “Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington Trio, Count Basie, Bill Evans…Those were the first ones I heard and loved.”  There was encouragement also from the Israeli jazz community. “The jazz scene in Israel is great. It’s a tiny country, so very far from the United States, but there is something going on in the music. We had great teachers, passionate and knowledgeable people.”

 

In 2000, Yonathan relocated to France. Based for more than a decade in the Dordogne region of the south west, he moved closer to Paris a few years back, and promptly met up with Yoni Zelnik and Donald Kontomanou. “It was very quickly clear to me that I had the people I needed to go further with the music and this project.” Both players share Avishai’s open-minded creative approach. Drummer Kontomanou has latterly been playing in Laurent de Wilde’s New Monk Trio. Bassist Zelnik’s credits include work with the groups of pianist Florian Pellissier and drummer Fred Pasqua. He has also toured as a member of the Triveni trio with Avishai Cohen and Nasheet Waits.

 

Pieces on Joys and Solitudes take their genesis from many different places. “Les pianos de Brazzaville”, for instance, recalls two journeys made by Yonathan Avishai to the Republic of the Congo in Central Africa.

 

 “Tango” is a creative response to hearing Dino Saluzzi and Anja Lechner’s album Ojos Negros. “I listened to that recording non-stop for a month. My piece wasn’t an attempt to write a tango, but to capture some of the colour and flavour of the playing.”

 

 “When Things Fall Apart”, borrowing its title from the book by American Buddhist writer Pema Chödrön, is inspired by the music of Avishai Cohen. “It’s actually a direct response to Avishai’s composition ‘Into The Silence’.  Even though I’m part of Avishai’s band, and have participated in the shaping of the music, the way in which that piece develops is a little mysterious, and I like the emotional result.  Many of the things I write are melodically simple, and often in 4/4, but with ‘When Things Fall Apart’ I wanted to experiment with a longer form, with spaces for improvising, as Avishai often does.”

 

Joys and Solitudes was recorded at Lugano’s Auditiorio Stelio Molo RSI, in February 2018, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

Further ECM recordings with Yonathan Avishai, including a duo album with Avishai Cohen, are in preparation.
 

ECM

 

 

 

Joe Lovano

Trio Tapestry

 

Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone, tarogato, gongs

Marilyn Crispell: piano

Carmen Castaldi: drums, percussion

 

Release date: January 25, 2019

ECM 2615

B0029590-02 

CD UPC: 6025 6796426 1                            

LP UPC: 6025 7736190 6

 

Joe Lovano on tour 2019

Jan. 27th                      Buffalo, NY                             **Albright-Knox Gallery

Feb. 16th                      St. Catharines, ON                 Oscar Peterson Jazz Festival

Feb. 19th – 23rd            New York, NY                         Birdland (saxophone summit)

Mar. 1st                        Tucson, AZ                             Crowder Hall, U of Arizona

Mar. 8th                        Aliso Viejo, CA                        Soka University

Mar. 10th                      Albuquerque, NM                    ** Outpost Performance Space

Mar. 11th                      Santa Cruz, CA                       Kuumbwa Jazz Center

Mar. 12th – 13th            Seattle, WA                             ** Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley

Mar. 14th – 17th           San Francisco, CA                 ** SFJAZZ Miner Auditorium

Apr. 13th                      Austin, TX                               Bates Recital Hall                                   

** indicate Trio Tapestry performances

 

Joe Lovano, widely acknowledged as one of the great tenor saxophonists of our time, has been a presence on ECM since 1981, appearing on key recordings with Paul Motian, Steve Kuhn, John Abercrombie and Marc Johnson.  Trio Tapestry, introducing a new group with pianist Marilyn Crispell and drummer Carmen Castaldi is his first as a leader for the label.   An album of focused intensity and expressive beauty, it features a program of eleven new compositions that Joe calls “some of the most intimate and personal music I’ve recorded so far.”

 

The album, produced by Manfred Eicher at New York’s Sear Sound studio, draws upon Lovano’s history and development as a player who has addressed both jazz tradition and exploratory improvisation.  “For me this recording is a statement of where I am, where I’ve been and where I may be headed.” In a performer’s note in the CD booklet he says of the recording, “The divine timing of interplay and interaction is magical.  Trio Tapestry is a melodic, harmonic, rhythmic musical tapestry throughout, sustaining moods and atmospheres.”

 

Each of the pieces here flowers from a melodic core informed by twelve-tone processes, a methodology Lovano came to appreciate through his long association with composer Gunter Schuller.  “And working with Marilyn Crispell who also had lived in that world, having played a lot of contemporary composition and played extensively with Anthony Braxton and so on, we had a beautiful communication in that sound.”  If the colors and textures of the music invoke a chamber music ambience, the players themselves “are deeply rooted in jazz, sounding out each other’s feelings in the improvising, and making music within the music. I brought in the material and had an idea of what I wanted to happen, but in terms of how we play together, there is a very equal weight of contribution. We harmonise in this music in a really special way.”

 

Crispell and Lovano first crossed paths in the mid-1980s when the pianist was a member of Anthony Braxton’s quartet, with Gerry Hemingway and John Lindberg. “They happened to be recording in a studio next door to my loft in New York. We met then and stayed in touch.”   Around 2006 Joe sat in with Marilyn’s trio with Mark Helias and Paul Motian for a night at the Village Vanguard, which led to a concert as a quartet at New York’s Miller Theater, playing compositions by all four musicians.  “That was the first time I’d played a full concert with Marilyn.” The potential for further musical exploration was evident, fulfilled now by Trio Tapestry.

 

Carmen Castaldi and Joe Lovano have played together since their teenage years in Cleveland, and moved to Boston together to attend Berklee in 1971. In the mid-70s when Joe relocated to New York, Carmen headed to the West Coast where he was based for the next couple of decades. Since his return to Ohio, cooperation between the two friends has intensified.   Castaldi played on Joe’s Viva Caruso album on Blue Note and toured widely with Lovano’s Street Band, “playing a more ‘folk’ kind of music, with a different energy”, in a line-up including Judy Silvano, Gil Goldstein, Ed Schuller and Erik Friedlander. “Carmen is a wonderful free spirit on the drums, a total improviser, inspired by Paul Motian his whole life.  I was really happy to have him on this recording, which is more than ‘a session’ for me. It incorporates a way of playing and interacting that Carmen and I have developed together over very many years.”

 

Castaldi’s subtle drumming engages with the dialogues between saxophone and piano, detailing and adding commentary. A further textural element, augmenting the music’s sense of mystery, comes from Lovano’s use of gongs. “I started to develop that concept back in the 1980s, playing tenor saxophone and accompanying myself on gongs, having a mallet in my right hand to create different tonalities and different key centers from which to improvise.”

 

Over the last fifteen years, the soulful cry of the Hungarian tarogato has also found a place in Lovano’s music. It seems to lend itself to solemn or yearning meditations. Joe played tarogato on “The Spiritual” on Steve Kuhn’s Mostly Coltrane, for example. On Trio Tapestry it is featured on “Mystic”, declaiming over rumbling percussion.

 

Cecil Taylor once praised Marilyn Crispell for “spearheading a new lyricism” in creative music, and Lovano who hails the pianist for her “amazing sound, touch and vocabulary” is pleased to provide a context for her expressive voice here. Crispell, of course, has recorded for ECM  for more than twenty years to date, with a discography that includes trio albums with Paul Motian and Gary Peacock (Nothing Ever Was, Anyway and Amaryllis), a duo album with Peacock (Azure), the solo piano album Vignettes, and more.

 

Lovano’s  ECM leader debut with Trio Tapestry follows more than two decades as a Blue Note recording artist, with numerous releases in formats from duo (with Hank Jones, for instance) to large ensemble (the Grammy-winning 52nd Street Themes).

 

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Areni Agbabian - Bloom

Digital release date: February 15

CD release: February 22, 2019

 

Areni Agbabian: voice, piano; Nicolas Stocker: percussion

 

Improvising vocalist, folk singer, storyteller, pianist: on her ECM debut Areni Agbabian focuses the range of her skills in music that casts a quiet spell. A sparse music in which voice, piano and the subtle percussion of Nicolas Stocker (last heard on ECM with Nik Bärtsch's Mobile ensemble), continually shade into silence.  The California-born Agbabian, who came to international attention with the groups of Tigran Hamasyan, draws deeply upon her Armenian heritage, reinterpreting sacred hymns, a traditional tale, a folk melody transcribed by Komitas and more, and interspersing these elements among her own evocative compositions. Bloom was recorded in Lugano in October 2016 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

 

 

 

 

 

ECM

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Giovanni Guidi - Avec le temps

Digital release date: February 15

CD release: February 22, 2019

 

Giovanni Guidi: piano; Francesco Bearzatti: tenor saxophone; 

Roberto Cecchetto: guitar; Thomas Morgan: double bass; João Lobo: drums

  

Italian pianist Giovanni Guidi's core trio with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer João Lobo opens Avec le temps with a deeply-felt interpretation of the title track, the song of love and loss by Léo Ferré, and closes the album with "Tomasz", dedicated to Tomasz Stanko. In between, the band swells to quintet size, with saxophonist Francesco Bearzatti and guitarist Roberto Cecchetto contributing to Guidi originals and group improvising in a program of strikingly contrasting energies and colors, with outstanding playing by all participants. Avec le temps was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in November 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher.  

 

 

 

 

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Larry Grenadier - The Gleaners

Digital release date: February 15

CD and Vinyl: February 22, 2019

 

Larry Grenadier: double bass

 

Larry Grenadier's The Gleaners is a profound and highly creative album, harvesting influences from many sources, its title inspired by Agnès Varda's film The Gleaners and I.  In between his own pieces here, including a dedication to early hero Oscar Pettiford, Grenadier explores compositions by George Gershwin, John Coltrane, Paul Motian, Rebecca Martin and Wolfgang Muthspiel.  "The process for making this record began with a look inward," Larry writes in his liner note, "an excavation into the core elements of who I am as a bass player. It was a search for a center of sound and timbre, for the threads of harmony and rhythm that formulate the crux of a musical identity."   

The result is an important addition to ECM's series of distinguished solo bass albums. The Gleaners was recorded at New York's Avatar Studios in December 2016 and produced by Manfred Eicher.   

 

 

 

 

Edited by GA Russell

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The great saxophonist Joe Lovano has appeared on a number of ECM recordings over the last four decades, including much-loved albums with Paul Motian, Steve Kuhn and John Abercrombie. Trio Tapestry is his first as a leader for the label, introducing a wonderful new group and music of flowing lyricism, delicate texture, and inspired interplay. Lovano and pianist Marilyn Crispell are in accord at an advanced level inside its structures. “Marilyn has such a beautiful sound and touch and vocabulary,” Joe enthuses. Drummer Carmen Castaldi, a Lovano associate of long-standing, also responds to the trio environment with sensitivity, subtly embellishing and detailing the pieces. Lovano: “We play together like an orchestra, creating an amazing tapestry. I brought in the material, but there’s an equal weight of contribution, creating music within the music, and harmonizing it in a really special way.”  Trio Tapestry was recorded at New York’s Sear Sound studio in March 2018, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

LISTEN / BUY

Joe Lovano Trio Tapestry Concerts

Jan 27th Buffalo, NY (Albright-Knox Art Gallery)
Mar 15th San Francisco, CA (
SFJAZZ Miner Auditorium)
More dates to come
 
For Joe’s complete touring schedule click 
here
 
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It looks like ECM is reissuing a bunch of titles on February 1:

Kenny Wheeler - Double, Double You

Pat Metheny - Watercolors

John Surman/John Warren - The Brass Project

Mike Nock - Ondas

Eberhard Weber - The Following Morning

Steve Tibbetts - Northern Song

George Adams - Sound Suggestions

Louis Sclavis - Rouge

Barre Phillips - Mountainscapes

Mick Goodrick - In Pas(s)ing

Bobo Stenson - War Orphans

Keith Jarrett - Standards, Vol. 1

David Torn - Cloud About Mercury

John Abercrombie - Night

Terje Rypdal - Blue

Jan Garbaret/Kjell Johnsen - Aftenland

Miroslav Vitous - Atmos

Paul Bley - Ballads

Leo Smith - Divine Love

Chick Corea - Piano Improvisations Vol. 1

Dino Saluzzi - Andina

Ralph Towner/Gary Burton - Matchbook

Dave Holland - Seeds Of Time

Peter Erskine - Juni

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Michael, some of those are favorites of mine, particularly the Mike Nock and the Kenny Wheeler!

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1 hour ago, GA Russell said:

Michael, some of those are favorites of mine, particularly the Mike Nock and the Kenny Wheeler!

Yes, I’ve heard good things about the Wheeler.

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On 1/2/2019 at 6:02 PM, GA Russell said:
 
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The great saxophonist Joe Lovano has appeared on a number of ECM recordings over the last four decades, including much-loved albums with Paul Motian, Steve Kuhn and John Abercrombie. Trio Tapestry is his first as a leader for the label, introducing a wonderful new group and music of flowing lyricism, delicate texture, and inspired interplay. Lovano and pianist Marilyn Crispell are in accord at an advanced level inside its structures. “Marilyn has such a beautiful sound and touch and vocabulary,” Joe enthuses. Drummer Carmen Castaldi, a Lovano associate of long-standing, also responds to the trio environment with sensitivity, subtly embellishing and detailing the pieces. Lovano: “We play together like an orchestra, creating an amazing tapestry. I brought in the material, but there’s an equal weight of contribution, creating music within the music, and harmonizing it in a really special way.”  Trio Tapestry was recorded at New York’s Sear Sound studio in March 2018, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

LISTEN / BUY

Joe Lovano Trio Tapestry Concerts

Jan 27th Buffalo, NY (Albright-Knox Art Gallery)
Mar 15th San Francisco, CA (
SFJAZZ Miner Auditorium)
More dates to come
 
For Joe’s complete touring schedule click 
here
 
61f22ef7-9125-4761-8ecc-2dfb5c0633b6.jpg
 
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They'll be in Albuquerque in March. I plan to attend.

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The Nock is an underappreciated absolute gem and anything by KW is good or a lot better.

Some great titles on that list. I didn't realise that ECM CDs went out of print.

Thinking about it a bit more, has the Nock had a CD released previously? I have the LP and don't recall ever seeing a cd

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19 hours ago, mjazzg said:

The Nock is an underappreciated absolute gem and anything by KW is good or a lot better.

Some great titles on that list. I didn't realise that ECM CDs went out of print.

Thinking about it a bit more, has the Nock had a CD released previously? I have the LP and don't recall ever seeing a cd

Hi, yes the Nock has had a release on CD before. I have both a vinyl and CD copy.

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Ralph Alessi
Imaginary Friends

 

Ralph Alessi trumpet; Ravi Coltrane tenor and sopranino saxophones; Andy Milne piano; Drew Gress double bass; Mark Ferber drums                 

Trumpeter Ralph Alessi’s first two ECM albums as a leader justly earned him high praise. Here the trumpeter fronts a longtime working quintet in its first recording since 2010 featuring kindred spirits Ravi Coltrane and Andy Milne and a stellar rhythm section. The nine Alessi compositions include an irresistible highlight in “Iram Issela,” with its rich seam of bittersweet melody and exceptional soloing by Coltrane setting the scene for an album of quicksilver beauty.

LISTEN / BUY
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Mats Eilertsen
And Then Comes The Night

Harmen Fraanje piano; Mats Eilertsen double bass; Thomas Strønen drums

Bassist Mats Eilertsen has been a distinctive presence on many ECM recordings and has long maintained several projects of his own, including this trio, now in its 10th year of existence. For this session “We came in with a number of compositional sketches and the intention to see what could be shaped from them”, says Mats. The result is an album of subtle group music, sidestepping many of the conventions of trio playing, in a recording that demands and rewards concentrated listening. 

LISTEN / BUY
 
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Yonathan Avishai
Joys and Solitudes

Yonathan Avishai piano; Yoni Zelnik double bass; Donald Kontomanou drums          

Over the last few years pianist Yonathan Avishai has played on the ECM recordings of trumpeter Avishai Cohen while developing his own project with the trio heard here. Opening with Duke Ellington, the album continues with a series of original pieces that reference a broad range of musics and experiences. Diverse influences are filtered through Yonathan’s tradition-conscious piano playing, alert to old values of blues feeling and swing yet also strikingly original in its decisiveness and concision.

LISTEN / BUY
 
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Joe Lovano
Trio Tapestry

Joe Lovano tenor saxophone, tarogato, gongs; Marilyn Crispell piano;
Carmen Castaldi drums, percussion  

The great saxophonist Joe Lovano has appeared on a number of ECM recordings over the last four decades, including much-loved albums with Paul Motian, Steve Kuhn and John Abercrombie. Trio Tapestry is his first as a leader for the label, introducing a wonderful new group and music of flowing lyricism, delicate texture, and inspired interplay. Lovano and pianist Marilyn Crispell are in accord at an advanced level inside its structures. “Marilyn has such a beautiful sound and touch and vocabulary,” Joe enthuses. Drummer Carmen Castaldi, a Lovano associate of long-standing, also responds to the trio environment with sensitivity, subtly embellishing and detailing the pieces. Lovano: “We play together like an orchestra, creating an amazing tapestry. I brought in the material, but there’s an equal weight of contribution, creating music within the music, and harmonizing it in a really special way.”  Trio Tapestry was recorded at New York’s Sear Sound studio in March 2018, and produced by Manfred Eicher. 

 

LISTEN / BUY
08d2f455-68db-4b2b-aed4-8c938cf5870a.png

Joe Lovano 'Trio Tapestry’ - One Time In

 
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Out March 1

Guitarist-composer David Torn, a longstanding ECM artist, has enjoyed a particularly fruitful 21st-century with the label, releasing two albums under his own name the solo only sky and quartet disc prezens in addition to producing widely lauded records by Tim Berne and Michael Formanek. With Sun of Goldfinger, Torn returns in a trio alongside the alto saxophonist Berne and percussionist Ches Smith (a member of Berne's Snakeoil band who made his ECM leader debut in 2016 with The Bell). The Torn/Berne/Smith trio, also dubbed Sun of Goldfinger, features alone on two of this album's three intense tracks of 20-plus minutes; the vast sonic tapestries of "Eye Meddle" and "Soften the Blow" each spontaneous group compositions belie the fact that only a trio is weaving them, with live electronics by Torn and Smith expanding the aural envelope. The third track, the Torn composition Spartan, "Before It Hit," showcases an extended ensemble with two extra guitars, keyboards and a string quartet; it s an otherworldly creation, ranging from hovering atmospherics to dark-hued lyricism to storming, sky-rending grandeur. The words of LondonJazz, reviewing Sun of Goldfinger live, also suit the band s debut on record: "This is dangerous music at times angry, at others blissed-out and illuminating with its thunderous rumblings... delivering not so much a wash of sound, more a tidal wave."

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On 02/01/2019 at 0:48 PM, mjzee said:

It looks like ECM is reissuing a bunch of titles on February 1:

Kenny Wheeler - Double, Double You

Pat Metheny - Watercolors

John Surman/John Warren - The Brass Project

Mike Nock - Ondas

Eberhard Weber - The Following Morning

Steve Tibbetts - Northern Song

George Adams - Sound Suggestions

Louis Sclavis - Rouge

Barre Phillips - Mountainscapes

Mick Goodrick - In Pas(s)ing

Bobo Stenson - War Orphans

Keith Jarrett - Standards, Vol. 1

David Torn - Cloud About Mercury

John Abercrombie - Night

Terje Rypdal - Blue

Jan Garbaret/Kjell Johnsen - Aftenland

Miroslav Vitous - Atmos

Paul Bley - Ballads

Leo Smith - Divine Love

Chick Corea - Piano Improvisations Vol. 1

Dino Saluzzi - Andina

Ralph Towner/Gary Burton - Matchbook

Dave Holland - Seeds Of Time

Peter Erskine - Juni

 

Hey, are these ECM titles remastered?

 

??

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30 minutes ago, Crocodile Chuck said:

 

Hey, are these ECM titles remastered?

 

??

ECM rarely remaster and I do not believe these are

Another 25 titles coming along in May.

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On 1/19/2019 at 4:20 PM, Lontano said:

ECM rarely remaster and I do not believe these are

Another 25 titles coming along in May.

What’s in the next set of 25?

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On 20/01/2019 at 1:20 AM, Guy Berger said:

What’s in the next set of 25?

Sorry - not seen anything on what will be included in next batch yet

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Those reissues are the continuation of the "Touchstones" series - basic two-fold cardboard sleeves with not liners or booklets, just the dicc inside the right half and a cover "flap" (fold out-like). Nice at the price (around or a somewhat less than 10€ a pop usually).

Several in the run that I'm interested in!

The Lovano, btw, must rank among the top 3 ugliest ECM covers ever ... looks like your usual us mainstream design of the 90s, noughties or 10s (db covers look about the same - don't get much uglier) and nothing like ECM at all.

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7 minutes ago, king ubu said:

Those reissues are the continuation of the "Touchstones" series - basic two-fold cardboard sleeves with not liners or booklets, just the dicc inside the right half and a cover "flap" (fold out-like). Nice at the price (around or a somewhat less than 10€ a pop usually).

Sadly these make it + if not properly packed - rarely unbent/undamaged trough shipment ....

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9 hours ago, king ubu said:

The Lovano, btw, must rank among the top 3 ugliest ECM covers ever ... looks like your usual us mainstream design of the 90s, noughties or 10s (db covers look about the same - don't get much uglier) and nothing like ECM at all.

Was thinking the same thing.  Would be a fun thread to start.

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ECM

 

 

Yonathan Avishai

Joys and Solitudes

 

Yonathan Avishai: piano

Yoni Zelnik: double bass

Donald Kontomanou: drums

Release date: January 25, 2019

ECM 2611                        

B0029591-02

UPC:  6025 675 1624 8                                                        

 

Israeli-French pianist Yonathan Avishai has made important contributions to the music of Avishai Cohen, as documented on the ECM albums Into The Silence and Cross My Palm With Silver. In parallel, over the last five years, he has been developing his own project with the trio heard here, with Paris-based Israeli bassist Yoni Zelnik and Donald Kontomanou, French drummer of Guinean and Greek heritage.  Sometimes known as the Modern Times Trio, the group re-examines shifting meanings of modernity in the course of its work.  The new album opens with Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo”, a composition written in 1930, and for Yonathan still very much up-to-the-minute. “Ellington is a thoroughly modern pianist and composer,” he muses. “His way of telling a story with his playing influenced me, and ‘Mood Indigo’ is a song I’ve loved for a long time.” In the original pieces that follow, Avishai makes reference to a broad range of musics. Uniting the different inspirational sources is a feeling that Yonathan is digging deep for the essential in his playing and writing. Ornamentation is rigorously trimmed; not a note is wasted here. Old values like swing and blues feeling still apply in Avishai’s forward-looking concept. The music keeps dancing in the spaces between phrases.

 

“I do feel very much rooted in the tradition. First of all I love history and the perspectives that study of it brings.  And I’m interested in all of jazz history, from Louis Armstrong to Cecil Taylor and beyond.” Asked to define the moment when he recognized the characteristics of his own style he replies, “I think it has to do with recognizing the things that you can’t do. I’m not only talking about skills but understanding the contexts in which your own voice is most expressive. I saw at some point that I become more expressive with less notes. And when you listen to Lester Young or Louis Armstrong and you see how they can make you cry in eight bars….” It’s an economy to aspire to, he implies.

 

Born in Tel Aviv, Yonathan Avishai spent his early years in Japan, where his father was studying. “My parents were people concerned with art and culture and exposed me to a great deal of it in Japan. I saw a lot of kabuki plays, for instance, and became a real fan.  I feel the influence of this period stayed with me somehow, a sensitivity to a certain kind of aesthetics and energy – and although I don’t particularly like the word, a taste of ‘minimalism’ is part of my work, and perhaps that could be traced that back to kabuki.”  

 

Returning to Israel, Yonathan, as he puts it, “basically grew up alongside Avishai Cohen.” The pianist and trumpeter starting playing together at thirteen and have collaborated almost continuously ever since. “We went to the same school, lived in the same neighbourhood and went through very similar experiences in discovering jazz.”  In Yonathan’s case, the process was a kind of backwards journey – reversing through hiphop, funk and fusion to the core of the tradition.  His growing interest in jazz was supported by relatives in France, who would send cassette tapes to Israel: “Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington Trio, Count Basie, Bill Evans…Those were the first ones I heard and loved.”  There was encouragement also from the Israeli jazz community. “The jazz scene in Israel is great. It’s a tiny country, so very far from the United States, but there is something going on in the music. We had great teachers, passionate and knowledgeable people.”

 

In 2000, Yonathan relocated to France. Based for more than a decade in the Dordogne region of the south west, he moved closer to Paris a few years back, and promptly met up with Yoni Zelnik and Donald Kontomanou. “It was very quickly clear to me that I had the people I needed to go further with the music and this project.” Both players share Avishai’s open-minded creative approach. Drummer Kontomanou has latterly been playing in Laurent de Wilde’s New Monk Trio. Bassist Zelnik’s credits include work with the groups of pianist Florian Pellissier and drummer Fred Pasqua. He has also toured as a member of the Triveni trio with Avishai Cohen and Nasheet Waits.

 

Pieces on Joys and Solitudes take their genesis from many different places. “Les pianos de Brazzaville”, for instance, recalls two journeys made by Yonathan Avishai to the Republic of the Congo in Central Africa.

 

 “Tango” is a creative response to hearing Dino Saluzzi and Anja Lechner’s album Ojos Negros. “I listened to that recording non-stop for a month. My piece wasn’t an attempt to write a tango, but to capture some of the colour and flavour of the playing.”

 

 “When Things Fall Apart”, borrowing its title from the book by American Buddhist writer Pema Chödrön, is inspired by the music of Avishai Cohen. “It’s actually a direct response to Avishai’s composition ‘Into The Silence’.  Even though I’m part of Avishai’s band, and have participated in the shaping of the music, the way in which that piece develops is a little mysterious, and I like the emotional result.  Many of the things I write are melodically simple, and often in 4/4, but with ‘When Things Fall Apart’ I wanted to experiment with a longer form, with spaces for improvising, as Avishai often does.”

 

Joys and Solitudes was recorded at Lugano’s Auditiorio Stelio Molo RSI, in February 2018, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

Further ECM recordings with Yonathan Avishai, including a duo album with Avishai Cohen, are in preparation.
 

ECM

 

 

 

Joe Lovano

Trio Tapestry

 

Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone, tarogato, gongs

Marilyn Crispell: piano

Carmen Castaldi: drums, percussion

 

Release date: January 25, 2019

ECM 2615

B0029590-02 

CD UPC: 6025 6796426 1                            

LP UPC: 6025 7736190 6

 

Joe Lovano on tour 2019

Jan. 27th                      Buffalo, NY                             **Albright-Knox Gallery

Feb. 16th                      St. Catharines, ON                 Oscar Peterson Jazz Festival

Feb. 19th – 23rd            New York, NY                         Birdland (saxophone summit)

Mar. 1st                        Tucson, AZ                             Crowder Hall, U of Arizona

Mar. 8th                        Aliso Viejo, CA                        Soka University

Mar. 10th                      Albuquerque, NM                    ** Outpost Performance Space

Mar. 11th                      Santa Cruz, CA                       Kuumbwa Jazz Center

Mar. 12th – 13th            Seattle, WA                             ** Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley

Mar. 14th – 17th           San Francisco, CA                 ** SFJAZZ Miner Auditorium

Apr. 13th                      Austin, TX                               Bates Recital Hall                                   

** indicate Trio Tapestry performances

 

Joe Lovano, widely acknowledged as one of the great tenor saxophonists of our time, has been a presence on ECM since 1981, appearing on key recordings with Paul Motian, Steve Kuhn, John Abercrombie and Marc Johnson.  Trio Tapestry, introducing a new group with pianist Marilyn Crispell and drummer Carmen Castaldi is his first as a leader for the label.   An album of focused intensity and expressive beauty, it features a program of eleven new compositions that Joe calls “some of the most intimate and personal music I’ve recorded so far.”

 

The album, produced by Manfred Eicher at New York’s Sear Sound studio, draws upon Lovano’s history and development as a player who has addressed both jazz tradition and exploratory improvisation.  “For me this recording is a statement of where I am, where I’ve been and where I may be headed.” In a performer’s note in the CD booklet he says of the recording, “The divine timing of interplay and interaction is magical.  Trio Tapestry is a melodic, harmonic, rhythmic musical tapestry throughout, sustaining moods and atmospheres.”

 

Each of the pieces here flowers from a melodic core informed by twelve-tone processes, a methodology Lovano came to appreciate through his long association with composer Gunter Schuller.  “And working with Marilyn Crispell who also had lived in that world, having played a lot of contemporary composition and played extensively with Anthony Braxton and so on, we had a beautiful communication in that sound.”  If the colors and textures of the music invoke a chamber music ambience, the players themselves “are deeply rooted in jazz, sounding out each other’s feelings in the improvising, and making music within the music. I brought in the material and had an idea of what I wanted to happen, but in terms of how we play together, there is a very equal weight of contribution. We harmonise in this music in a really special way.”

 

Crispell and Lovano first crossed paths in the mid-1980s when the pianist was a member of Anthony Braxton’s quartet, with Gerry Hemingway and John Lindberg. “They happened to be recording in a studio next door to my loft in New York. We met then and stayed in touch.”  Around 2006 Joe sat in with Marilyn’s trio with Mark Helias and Paul Motian for a night at the Village Vanguard, which led to a concert as a quartet at New York’s Miller Theater, playing compositions by all four musicians.  “That was the first time I’d played a full concert with Marilyn.” The potential for further musical exploration was evident, fulfilled now by Trio Tapestry.

 

Carmen Castaldi and Joe Lovano have played together since their teenage years in Cleveland, and moved to Boston together to attend Berklee in 1971. In the mid-70s when Joe relocated to New York, Carmen headed to the West Coast where he was based for the next couple of decades. Since his return to Ohio, cooperation between the two friends has intensified.  Castaldi played on Joe’s Viva Caruso album on Blue Note and toured widely with Lovano’s Street Band, “playing a more ‘folk’ kind of music, with a different energy”, in a line-up including Judy Silvano, Gil Goldstein, Ed Schuller and Erik Friedlander. “Carmen is a wonderful free spirit on the drums, a total improviser, inspired by Paul Motian his whole life.  I was really happy to have him on this recording, which is more than ‘a session’ for me. It incorporates a way of playing and interacting that Carmen and I have developed together over very many years.”

 

Castaldi’s subtle drumming engages with the dialogues between saxophone and piano, detailing and adding commentary. A further textural element, augmenting the music’s sense of mystery, comes from Lovano’s use of gongs. “I started to develop that concept back in the 1980s, playing tenor saxophone and accompanying myself on gongs, having a mallet in my right hand to create different tonalities and different key centers from which to improvise.”

 

Over the last fifteen years, the soulful cry of the Hungarian tarogato has also found a place in Lovano’s music. It seems to lend itself to solemn or yearning meditations. Joe played tarogato on “The Spiritual” on Steve Kuhn’s Mostly Coltrane, for example. On Trio Tapestry it is featured on “Mystic”, declaiming over rumbling percussion.

 

Cecil Taylor once praised Marilyn Crispell for “spearheading a new lyricism” in creative music, and Lovano who hails the pianist for her “amazing sound, touch and vocabulary” is pleased to provide a context for her expressive voice here. Crispell, of course, has recorded for ECM  for more than twenty years to date, with a discography that includes trio albums with Paul Motian and Gary Peacock (Nothing Ever Was, Anyway and Amaryllis), a duo album with Peacock (Azure), the solo piano album Vignettes, and more.

 

Lovano’s  ECM leader debut with Trio Tapestry follows more than two decades as a Blue Note recording artist, with numerous releases in formats from duo (with Hank Jones, for instance) to large ensemble (the Grammy-winning 52nd Street Themes).

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Mats Eilertsen Trio - And Then Comes The Night

release date February 1, 2019

 

Harmen Fraanje: piano; Mats Eilertsen: double bass; Thomas Strønen: drums

 

Norwegian bassist Mats Eilertsen has been a distinctive presence on ECM recordings by, amongst others, Tord Gustavsen, Trygve Seim, Mathias Eick, Nils Økland, Wolfert Brederode and Jakob Young and has long maintained several projects of his own, including this trio, now in its 10th year of existence. And Then Comes The Night (named after the novel by Icelandic writer Jón Kalman Stefánsson) was recorded at the Audiotorio Stelio Molo in Lugano and Eilertsen, drummer Thomas Strønen, and Dutch pianist Harmen Fraanje make full use of what Mats calls the studio's "special character and atmosphere" and the acutely-focused interplay the room encourages. "We came in with a number of compositional sketches and the intention of seeing what could be shaped from them, with Manfred Eicher's help, in that specific space." The result is an album of subtle group music, sidestepping many of the conventions of trio playing, in a recording that demands and rewards concentrated listening.

 

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Giovanni Guidi - Avec le temps

release date: March 22, 2019

 

Giovanni Guidi: piano; Thomas Morgan: double bass;

 

João Lobo: drums; Francesco Bearzatti: tenor saxophone; Roberto Cecchetto: guitar;

 

Italian pianist Giovanni Guidi's core trio with bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer João Lobo opens Avec le temps with a deeply-felt interpretation of the title track, the song of love and loss by Léo Ferré, and closes the album with "Tomasz", dedicated to Tomasz Stanko. In between, the band swells to quintet size, with saxophonist Francesco Bearzatti and guitarist Roberto Cecchetto contributing to Guidi originals and group improvising in a program of strikingly contrasting energies and colors, with outstanding playing by all participants. Avec le temps was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in November 2017 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

 

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Ralph Alessi

Imaginary Friends

 

Ralph Alessi: trumpet

Ravi Coltrane: tenor and sopranino saxophones

Andy Milne: piano

Drew Gress: double-bass

Mark Ferber: drums

 

Release date: February 1, 2019

 

ECM 2629                              

B0029592-02

UPC: 6025 770 1817 6                                  

 

 

Ralph Alessi and the band to perform at Winter Jazzfest

January 11th on the ECM stage at le poisson rouge

 

 

Trumpeter Ralph Alessi’s first two ECM albums as a leader – Baida (2013) and Quiver (2016) – justly earned him high praise. The New York Times lauded the “elegant precision and power” of Baida, while The Guardian extolled Quiver, pointing to the leader’s “flawless technique and ability to draw on jazz tradition while avoiding its clichés.” After those quartet discs, Alessi’s third ECM album, Imaginary Friends, presents him fronting a longtime working quintet in its first recording since 2010. Alessi’s bandmates include a kindred spirit in saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, a studio and stage partner of the trumpeter’s since they were students together at the California Institute of the Arts in the late ’80s. They are joined by pianist Andy Milne and drummer Mark Ferber, both making their ECM debuts, plus bassist Drew Gress, who played on Baida and Quiver. The nine Alessi compositions of Imaginary Friends include an irresistible highlight in “Iram Issela” (the title being his 8-year-old daughter’s name spelled backward). The track’s rich seam of bittersweet melody – and exceptional soloing by Coltrane – sets the scene for an album of quicksilver beauty.

 

Alessi – after recording his first ECM album at New York’s Avatar and his second at Oslo’s Rainbow – convened his quintet for Imaginary Friends in France at La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines (where the trumpeter had previously worked as part of the ensemble for pianist Florian Weber’s label debut as a leader, Lucent Waters). Alessi and company joined ECM founder Manfred Eicher in the studio after more than a dozen performances across Europe, with the trumpeter’s compositions “developing on tour,” he recalls. “We had hit the music hard on the road and were hot when we got in there with Manfred. We were confident with the material, relaxed but focused – the vibe was great.”

 

Working with Eicher has inevitably influenced Alessi’s manner of music-making, he says: “The sound of the records and the general aesthetic vision has inspired a certain side of me. Manfred encourages you to respect the space in the music, and that approach resonates with me, and pulls the band in, too. We slow down a bit and make the most of the space within the music, resisting the natural urge to fill up every space with notes. It isn’t easy to do – it requires a certain discipline.”

 

Over the past decade and a half, Alessi’s working quintet has often gone by the moniker This Against That, with this version of the lineup making two previous albums together and touring extensively. The trumpeter has a particularly strong relationship with Coltrane, since becoming friends as students. “It has been a wonderful thing witnessing Ravi mature as a musician,” Alessi says. “He has such a beautiful sound, with a distinctive voice on the instrument – not an easy thing on the tenor sax, in particular. He has acquired a new level of depth in recent years and sounds great on this new album, so centered and free in the way he expresses himself on the horn. Ravi plays such a moving solo on ‘Iram Issela’ that it brought tears to my eyes. His patient, unhurried manner of playing has also been inspiring, with his sense of phrasing and rhythmic vocabulary bringing something out of me that I really like. Where we solo together on the album’s title track was an especially great studio moment.”

 

Alessi played with Milne in saxophonist Steve Coleman’s band in the mid-’90s. “Andy is such a dynamic pianist,” the trumpeter says. “Those days playing very rhythmic music in Steve’s band only scratched the surface of what he could do. He can also create such a meditative feel with his soloing, like in ‘Iram Issela’ and ‘Melee,’ for instance. He has a way of being focused and taking his time with an idea, and that’s something I’m always drawn to in a player. At the end of the record, we included a brief duet with the two of us, just playing through the melody in a rubato fashion. He can be more grooving, too, of course, as in ‘Fun Room.’ Andy also adds a prepared-piano element to the album, subtly expanding the sound of a track like ‘Pittance’.”

 

Ferber leads off “Fun Room” with a rolling, richly musical drum solo, while a ruminative Gress arco solo helps color “Imaginary Friends.” As a rhythm battery in tandem, “Drew and Mark’s musicianship and command of the music are always rock solid,” Alessi explains, “and their level of listening could hardly be more profound – the radar is always on with those two.”

 

Born in 1963, Alessi himself has long been renowned as a musician’s musician, a first-call New York trumpeter who can play virtually anything on sight and has excelled as an improviser in groups led by not only Coleman, Coltrane and Weber but also the likes of Uri Caine and Don Byron, along with duetting with Fred Hersch and leading his own groups. Over the past half-decade, Alessi’s prolific composing has ripened, and he has only evolved further as a trumpeter, his gorgeous sound floating expressively above the band or slicing dynamically through it. DownBeat described his playing this way: “Alessi works between the notes, his thoughtful, conversational solos as meditative as a calligrapher’s art, each line free-flowing and declarative but with immaculate shape and beauty.” Praising his abilities as a leader, LondonJazz said: “Alessi’s stock-in-trade is to make the angularities and asymmetries of complex tunes sound natural, to assert their logic, to lead. There is always a sense of direction.”

 

Reflecting on the making of Imaginary Friends alongside Coltrane, Milne, Gress and Ferber, Alessi concludes: “After all these years of being friends and playing in this band and various others together, it’s great to have arrived at a moment when we could make a record like this for ECM.”
 

ECM

 

 

 

Mats Eilertsen Trio

And Then Comes The Night

 

Harmen Fraanje: piano

Mats Eilertsen: double bass

Thomas Strønen: drums

 

Release date: February 1, 2019

ECM 2619                              

B0029588-02

UPC: 6025 7702 567 9                                  

 

In 2016, the release of Mats Eilertsen’s album Rubicon gave notice of the breadth of the Norwegian bassist’s compositional range as well as his capacity to direct an ensemble of strong individual voices. Long an important contributor to ECM recordings, and appearing on albums by Tord Gustavsen, Trygve Seim, Mathias Eick, Nils Økland, Wolfert Brederode, Jakob Young and more, Eilertsen has concurrently maintained projects of his own, including the present trio, now in its tenth year of existence.

 

The new album (named after the novel Summer Light, And Then Comes The Night by Icelandic writer Jón Kalman Stefánsson) is the trio’s first for ECM, and follows two discs on the Hubro label.  It was recorded in May 2018 at Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo and Eilertsen, drummer Thomas Strønen, and pianist Harmen Fraanje make full use of what Mats calls the studio’s “special character and atmosphere” and the acutely-focused interplay the room seems to encourage. Mats explains: “We came in with a number of songs and compositional sketches and the intention of seeing what could be shaped from them, what could be carved out, with Manfred Eicher’s help, in that specific location.  Playing totally acoustically and without headphones, we could work with fine detail in the improvising and really give the music space to sing out in the natural reverb of the room.”

 

The result is an album of subtle and luminous group music, sidestepping many of the conventions of trio playing, in a recording that demands and rewards concentrated listening. “There is almost no theme-solo-theme playing on this album,” Eilertsen notes. “It’s more like a river or whirlpool of moods that carries you with it.”

 

The album opens and closes with variations of the sombre “22”, titled for the 22nd of July 2011, when it was composed by Eilertsen in stunned response to news of the attacks on the island of Utøya. “It wasn’t conceived as a homage,” he says quietly. “It was just what I did that day.”

 

Some pieces on the album are more “written” than others. “Sirens” for instance, “moves once through the written material, with Harmen, of course, having the freedom to respond to it as he chooses. He’s such a brilliant player and will discover another dimension in the material that I present to him. The same goes for Thomas’s drumming, where no parts are written.” Sensitized overlapping of deep pulses from double bass and the unpitched throb of the gran casa drum intensify the sense of mystery at the bottom end of the music. 

 

“The Void” is an older Eilertsen piece, which draws an improviser into its emptiness.  “It’s a piece I’ve played for many years in many different ways. Live, it can open up into total freedom….Here the piano part is very close to the way it was composed.”

 

 

Pianist Harmen Fraanje played on Mats’ Rubicon, but the association with Eilertsen goes back to 2001, when Mats was living in the Netherlands.  “I actually met Harmen in my very last week in Holland, and we played a gig together. That was the start of things.” Harmen and Mats worked for a while with Belgian drummer Teun Verbruggen, before Thomas Strønen was drafted into the line-up.  Eilertsen and Strønen already had shared history: both had studied in Trondheim, and they had played in numerous groups together. 

 

One early collaboration was on the debut album of the band Food, recorded in 1998: Mats played in the original incarnation of this group, alongside Strønen, Iain Ballamy and Arve Henriksen. A first shared recording on ECM was with the Strønen-led improvisational band Parish in 2004, where drummer and bassist collaborated with pianist Bobo Stenson and saxophonist and clarinettist Fredrik Ljungkvist.

 

Recent recordings with Mats Eilertsen include Trygve Seim’s Helsinki Songs and Mathias Eick’sMidwest.  In addition to co-leadership of Food, whose ECM albums are This Is Not A Miracle, Mercurial Balm, and Quiet Inlet, Thomas Strønen leads the ensemble Time Is A Blind Guide whose eponymously titled first album was followed in 2018 by Lucus.      

 

Harmen Fraanje has been hailed by All About Jazz as “one of the most impressive young European pianists” of the last decade. Active across a wide area of jazz and improvisation, he leads and co-leads several projects of his own, and has played with musicians including Ambrose Akinmusire, Mark Turner, Kenny Wheeler, Thomas Morgan, Tony Malaby, Han Bennink, Ernst Reijseger, Theo Bleckmann, Ben Monder, Enrico Rava, Louis Moholo, Ferenc Kovács, Rudi Mahall and Trygve Seim.

 

And Then Comes The Night is issued as the Mats Eilertsen Trio embarks on a European tour with concerts in France, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Norway. Dates include Sunside Jazzclub, Paris (January 29), Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham (January 30), Unterfahrt, Munich (January 31), Nasjonal Jazzscene Victoria, Oslo (February 1), Brorson Kirke, Copenhagen (February 3), Schloß Elmau, Elmau  (February 5),  Paradox, Tilburg (February 6),  Bimhuis, Amsterdam (February 7), Vredenburg, Utrecht (February 8),  Arena, Moss (February 10),  and UriJazz, Tonsberg (March 20). Further plans for the next year include concerts in which the Mats Eilertsen Trio joins forces with vocal group Trio Mediaeval.
 

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David Torn / Tim Berne / Ches Smith - Sun of Goldfinger
release date: March 1, 2019

 

Tim Berne: alto saxophone Ches Smith: drums, electronics, tanbou
David Torn: electric guitar, live-looping, electronics
 

Sun of Goldfinger on tour:
March 12th San Francisco, CA (Freight and Salvage)
March 13th Los Angeles, CA (Zebulon)
March 14th Portland, OR (Holocene)
March 15th Seattle, WA (Royal Room)
March 16th Denver, CO (workshop)
March 17th Denver, CO (Dazzle)
March 18th Minneapolis, MN Icehouse
March 19th Madison, WI (Arts and Literature Laboratory)
March 20th Pittsburgh, PA (Spirit)
March 21st NY, NY (Nublu)
March 24th Knoxville, TN (Big Ears Festival)
April 18th Boston, MA (Regatta Bar)
April 19th Portland, ME (Space Gallery)
April 20th Newburgh, NY (Atlas)

 

Additional artists on "Spartan, Before It Hit": 
Craig Taborn: electronics, piano; Mike Bagetta: guitar; Ryan Ferreira: guitar 
Scorchio String Quartet: Martha Mooke: director / viola
Amy Kimball: violin: Rachel Golub: violin Leah Coloff: cello

 


Guitarist-composer David Torn, a longstanding ECM artist, has enjoyed a particularly fruitful 21st-century with the label, releasing two albums under his own name - the solo only sky and quartet disc prezens - in addition to producing widely lauded records by Tim Berne and Michael Formanek. With Sun of Goldfinger, Torn returns in a trio alongside the alto saxophonist Berne and percussionist Ches Smith (a member of Berne's Snakeoil band who made his ECM leader debut in 2016 with The Bell). The Torn/Berne/Smith trio, also dubbed Sun of Goldfinger, features alone on two of this album's three intense tracks of 20-plus minutes; the vast sonic tapestries of "Eye Meddle" and "Soften the Blow" - each spontaneous group compositions - belie the fact that only a trio is weaving them, with live electronics by Torn and Smith expanding the aural envelope. The third track, the Torn composition "Spartan, Before It Hit," showcases an extended ensemble with two extra guitars, keyboards and a string quartet; it's an otherworldly creation, ranging from hovering atmospherics to dark-hued lyricism to storming, sky-rending grandeur. The words of LondonJazz, reviewing Sun of Goldfinger live, also suit the band's debut on record: "This is dangerous music - at times angry, at others blissed-out and illuminating - with its thunderous rumblings... delivering not so much a wash of sound, more a tidal wave."

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Dominic Miller - Absinthe
release date March 1, 2019


Dominic Miller: guitar; Santiago Arias: bandoneon;
Mike Lindup: keyboards; Nicholas Fiszman: bass; Manu Katché: drums


With Absinthe, his second release for ECM, guitarist Dominic Miller has created an album colored by a distinct atmosphere. "The first thing that came to me before I wrote any tunes was the title," he says. "Living in the South of France, I am fascinated by Impressionism. Sharp light and witchy mistrals combined with strong alcohol and intense hangovers must have driven some of these artists toward insanity. Skies that are green, faces blue, perspective distorted." While Miller's ECM debut, Silent Light, emphasized intimacy in solo and duo settings, Absinthe finds the guitarist fronting a quintet that brings his ever-lyrical compositions to textured life. Miller, switching between nylon- and steel-string acoustic guitars, has a key harmonic-melodic foil in the bandoneon of Santiago Arias. The vivid presence at the drum kit is Manu Katché, an ECM veteran and for years a colleague with Miller in the band of Sting (whom the guitarist has accompanied now for three decades). Mike Lindup's keyboard tones add a ghostly air to such highlights as the title track, while bassist Nicholas Fiszman roots the sound. As for Miller, JazzTimes described him as a guitarist who "milks every note, thriving on the pauses between them and whispery effects of fingers sliding across strings," while Stereophile agreed, declaring that "his ability to express emotion through a guitar is amazing to hear."

ECM

 

 

 

David Torn

Sun of Goldfinger

 

 

David Torn: electric guitar, live-looping, electronics

Tim Berne: alto saxophone

Ches Smith: drums, electronics, tanbou

 

And – on “Spartan, Before It Hit”:

Craig Taborn: electronics, piano

Mike Baggetta: guitar

Ryan Ferreira: guitar

Scorchio String Quartet: Martha Mooke: viola/director

Amy Kimball: violin

Rachel Golub: violin

Leah Coloff: cello 

 

ECM 2613                                        

B0029700-02

UPC: 6025 773 2924 2                  

 

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David Torn, a longstanding ECM artist, has enjoyed a particularly fruitful 21st-century with the label, releasing two albums under his own name – the solo only sky and quartet disc prezens – in addition to producing records by Tim Berne and Michael Formanek. With Sun of Goldfinger, Torn returns in a trio alongside the alto saxophonist Berne and percussionist Ches Smith (a member of Berne’s Snakeoil band who made his ECM leader debut in 2016 with The Bell). The Torn/Berne/Smith trio, also dubbed Sun of Goldfinger, features alone on two of this album’s three intense tracks of 20-plus minutes; the vast sonic tapestries of “Eye Meddle” and “Soften the Blow” – each spontaneous group compositions – belie the fact that only a trio is weaving them, with live electronics by Torn and Smith expanding the aural envelope. The third track, the Torn composition “Spartan, Before It Hit,” showcases an extended ensemble with two extra guitars, keyboards and a string quartet; it’s an otherworldly creation, ranging from hovering atmospherics to dark-hued lyricism to storming, sky-rending grandeur.

 

Sun of Goldfinger first came together in 2010, with an invitation from Berne for Torn to join the saxophonist and a young drummer for a gig in Brooklyn. “It was intriguing from the start,” Torn recalls. “I’ve had a close friendship and deep musical relationship with Tim since the ’90s and playing live with him is always special – we push each other into new territory. And that drummer turned out to be Ches, and I thought he was really something, just burning. We played a lot shows as a trio: from Colorado to Brazil, as well as across New York City – it was a lot of fun. But when we toured Europe in 2017, that’s when it really came together. I’ve never played anything that sounds or feels quite like this.”

 

The nearly 25-minute length of each track on Sun of Goldfinger mirrors the exploratory intensity of the trio live. Torn – who helmed the sessions in multiple New York studios – culled the high-impact tracks “Eye Meddle” and “Soften the Blow” from lengthy group improvisations. These two Sun of Goldfinger pieces saw him using the mixing process as “just a gigantic reveal – the goal being to bring to light for the listener, sonically speaking, all that was going on in the studio with the three of us,” he says. “Between our hands and our feet, Ches and I were creating a lot of sounds. He was burning on the drums, as ever, but he was also employing his own electronics.

 

“All those sounds Ches and I are creating also give Tim something to really play off in his solos, opening a door for him to use his extended techniques, particularly high harmonics, to create sonic effects of his own, even on a purely acoustic instrument,” Torn continues. “Then there’s his ability to drive the rhythmic pulse. He’s almost unique among saxophonists in the way he can drive a rhythm. There are also episodes in ‘Spartan, Before It Hit’ of that lyricism in Tim’s playing that I’ve been trying to accent on the more recent Snakeoil records.”

 

This album centerpiece, “Spartan, Before It Hit,” is a kaleidoscopic epic, one that expands the trio into a tentet – with the addition of two more guitarists, Mike Baggetta and Ryan Ferreira (who performs in the expanded edition of Snakeoil), keyboardist Craig Taborn (who has released several acclaimed albums as a leader on ECM) and a string quartet. This track is a blend of composition and improvisation, with the improv reflecting and extending Torn’s written material. He then used the mix as part of the compositional process, crafting a dream-like whole.

 

Reflecting on Sun of Goldfinger, Torn says: “This isn’t jazz music or rock music. I really can’t put it into any genre classification – it’s just music made by people who care deeply about what we’re expressing and how we’re expressing it, however abstract it may feel on first listen.”

 

***

 

Across a career as a guitarist, composer, improviser, producer and soundscape artist, David Torn has worked with innovators in jazz (Jan Garbarek, The Bad Plus), film music (Ryuichi Sakamoto, Carter Burwell) and rock (David Bowie, Jeff Beck, David Sylvian). Torn’s association with ECM has included the 1987 album Cloud About Mercury, featuring him alongside trumpeter Mark Isham and the latter-day King Crimson rhythm section of Tony Levin and Bill Bruford. It was the sort of music that led Guitar Player magazine to declare Torn “one of music’s Top 50 guitarists, ever.” Other Torn releases on ECM include Best Laid Plans, with drummer Geoffrey Gordon, and two albums with the Everyman Band; the guitarist also featured on Garbarek’s It’s OK to Listen to the Gray Voice.

 

All About Jazz called Torn’s 2007 album prezens “the most fully realized of his career… boldly adventurous.” Jazzwise described this record – featuring the guitarist alongside saxophonist Tim Berne, keyboardist Craig Taborn and drummer Tom Rainey – as “a vibrating collage full of shimmering sonic shapes, a dark, urban electronic soundscape – a potent mix of jazz, free-form rock and technology that is both demanding and rewarding.” The guitarist’s follow-up to prezenswas the 2015 solo album only sky, which The New York City Jazz Record praised for its rare combination of “realism and surrealism.” Torn has also produced and mixed Berne’s ECM albums Shadow Man (2013), You’ve Been Watching Me (April 2015) and Incidentals (2017), as well as bassist-composer Michael Formanek’s large-ensemble disc, The Distance (2016).

 

ECM

 

 

Dominic Miller

Absinthe

 

Dominic Miller: guitar

Santiago Arias: bandoneon

Mike Lindup: keyboards

Nicholas Fiszman: bass

Manu Katché: drums

Release date: March 1, 2019

ECM 2614                                                    

B0029695-02

UPC: 6025 678 8468 2

 

With Absinthe, guitarist Dominic Miller has created an album colored by a distinct atmosphere. “The first thing that came to me before I wrote any tunes was the title,” he writes in his liner note. “Living in the South of France, I am fascinated by Impressionism. Sharp light and witchy mistrals, combined with strong alcohol and intense hangovers must have driven some of these artists toward insanity. Skies that are green, faces blue, perspective distorted.” While Miller’s ECM debut, Silent Light, emphasized solo and duo settings, Absinthe finds the guitarist fronting a quintet that brings his lyrical compositions to textured life. Miller, switching between nylon- and steel-string acoustic guitars, has found a key harmonic-melodic foil in the bandoneon of Santiago Arias. The vivid presence at the drum kit is Manu Katché, for years a member alongside Miller in the band of Sting. Mike Lindup’s keyboard tones can glow or add a ghostly air (as they do in such highlights as the title track), while bassist Nicholas Fiszman roots the ensemble sound. As for Miller, JazzTimes has described him as a guitarist who “milks every note, thriving on the pauses between them and whispery effects of fingers sliding across strings.”

 

Not only was Absinthe conceived in the South of France, that’s also where Miller and band recorded the album, working with Manfred Eicher in the studio of La Buissonne, in Pernes-les-Fontaines. The ambience was ideal, Miller says: “It’s a great atmosphere in which to work. And I love collaborating with Manfred – he’s a real producer. I think back to the inspiring authenticity of those records he made with Egberto Gismonti. They were so important to me…

 

“For my two ECM albums, and especially this new one, my initial idea of a tune can be like a simple selfie,” Miller explains. “But once we’re done working on it together, the piece becomes this rich photographic still, with all the light and shade of life in it. Manfred helps bring out the essence of the music, often pushing us out of our comfort zones in the process. But I’m up for it – we rethought, redesigned and reinterpreted every tune in the studio. I’ve made about 250 pop and rock records over the years, and that’s often a process about achieving so-called perfection. But Manfred isn’t after this kind of perfection.”

 

Born in Argentina to an American father and Irish mother, Miller was raised in the U.S. from age 10 and then educated there and in England. The guitarist’s international mindset has only been deepened through decades touring the globe, working with the likes of Paul Simon, The Chieftains, Plácido Domingo and, most often, Sting. Miller has long been known as the latter’s right-hand man on guitar – and co-writer of “Shape of My Heart,” among others. “I’ve been influenced by Sting’s lateral sense of harmony and how he forms songs,” the guitarist says. “I try to do the same by creating a narrative with instrumental music, which I treat and arrange as songs, with verses, choruses, bridges. I’ve absorbed a lot from him about concept and arrangement, as well concision in telling a story.”

 

Miller heard Katché’s rhythmic/coloristic touch in his ear for decades, while Fiszman plays in the guitarist’s current live group. The simpatico match of drums and bass here is highlighted by their exchanges in “Ombu,” a track named for a tree in Argentina with vast roots. Miller only recently discovered Arias, having encountered him in Buenos Aires. “I was on tour there and I went out on a night off to see a jam featuring some top local musicians. They were all pointing out this young bandoneon player. Witnessing Santiago play – this acoustic, non-tango indigenous Argentinean music, mixed with European influences – I felt a spark. I wrote the music of Absinthe with the timbre of his instrument and his sense of space in mind.”

 

Arias’s bandoneon plays a vital role throughout the album, whether atmospherically in such pieces as the shadowy “Ténèbres” or as a soloistic voice in “Saint Vincent.” The title of the latter song refers not to Van Gogh but to the late Cameroonian guitarist Vincent Nguini, a long-time collaborator with Paul Simon and something of a mentor figure for Miller. “Vincent had such a special ‘time feel,’ as drummers like to talk about,” he says. “With the way he used time, you could hear that it was him from just a few notes.”

 

The title track of Absinthe begins with Miller’s hands fingering the nylon strings of a small-body guitar with his characteristic “artisanal precision,” as the Irish Times put it. After two minutes of melodic development with just guitar and bandoneon, Katché’s beat comes in strikingly, boosted by Fiszman’s deep bass. The piece immediately takes on the drama of a story, with Lindup’s synthesizer line whirring subtly through the arrangement like a specter, adding something otherworldly to the narrative. “I wanted the synth to add a disrupting element, like an absinthe-induced wooziness,” Miller explains. “I’ve known Mike for years and trust implicitly what he can bring to my music, whether it’s a touch of off-kilter synth or flowing piano, as on ‘Etude’ and ‘Verveine.’ The latter song, by the way, is named for a kind of herbal tea they have in France that I like. It’s supposedly good for hangovers, so I guess the old painters might’ve used it as a calming antidote after the visions of absinthe.” 

ECM

 

 

 

Larry Grenadier

The Gleaners

 

Larry Grenadier: double bass

 

Release date: February 15, 2019

 

ECM 2560

B0029681-02                                                           

UPC: 6025 675 7841 3

 

 

Larry Grenadier solo performances:

March 15       New York, NY           Zürcher Gallery

March 22       Knoxville, TN            Big Ears Festival

 

 

Over the decades, ECM has released a line of inventive albums showcasing solo double bass by such virtuosos of the instrument as Dave Holland, Barre Phillips and Miroslav Vitous. Now the label presentsThe Gleaners, the first album of solo bass by Larry Grenadier. As one of the most admired, accomplished bassists working in jazz today, Grenadier has been praised as “a deeply intuitive” musician by The New York Times and as an instrumentalist with a “fluid sense of melody” by Bass Player magazine. His personal tone has made him a bassist of choice for such artists as Paul Motian and Pat Metheny, not to mention some 25 years of deep, ongoing work in pianist Brad Mehldau’s widely influential trio. For ECM, Grenadier has featured on two albums as part of the cooperative trio Fly (alongside Mark Turner and Jeff Ballard), as well as three records led by guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel.The Gleaners includes a brace of originals by Grenadier, along with distinctive interpretations of numbers by George Gershwin, John Coltrane and Motian. There’s also a pair of pieces written especially for Grenadier by Muthspiel, plus an instrumental interpretation of “Gone Like the Season Does,” a song by the bassist’s wife, and frequent collaborator, singer Rebecca Martin.

 

Grenadier recorded The Gleaners at Avatar Studios in New York City with Manfred Eicher as producer and James Farber as engineer. Grenadier and Eicher mixed the album at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France. In his liner note, Grenadier wrote: “The process for making this record began with a look inward, an excavation into the core elements of who I am as a bass player. It was a search for a center of sound and timbre, for the threads of harmony and rhythm that formulate the crux of a musical identity.” Reflecting on the gestation of his first solo album, he talks further: “For years, I had been satisfied by collaborating with other artists, feeling that I had room for my own voice in the music. But Manfred planted the seed of making a solo album, and I cultivated it as an artistic challenge. Manfred is a former bassist, so he understands the instrument and its history, both in jazz and classical. Few people truly know how to treat the double-bass sonically in the studio, but Manfred concentrates on bringing out its special qualities. In making The Gleaners, he was vital in the editing and the mix, really helping me shape the album.”

 

Those previous ECM albums of solo bass by Holland, Phillips and Vitous were key inspirations for Grenadier. “But other instrumentalists playing solo were also a big influence, such as Sonny Rollins,” he says. “I looked to them to help answer the question: How do you develop something solo over a long span with cohesion and clarity? Joe Henderson also used to play these substantial solo intros before tunes like Monk’s ‘Ask Me Now’ that were inspiring. There were other things, too, when it came to solo string playing. I’ve always loved solo cello music from Bach and beyond, and Manfred introduced me to violist Kim Kashkashian’s solo Hindemith recordings, which I fell for. As all those influences swirled in my head, I began thinking about a solo album conceptually, how to make it interesting over 45 minutes or so – and not just to other bass players. I experimented with various tunings and scordatura, like the 17th- and 18th-century violinists used, to get a full range of sounds – and that gave the instrument a whole new vibration for me, a feeling of real sonic potential to explore.”

 

Grenadier’s title of The Gleaners was inspired by a documentary film from 2000, The Gleaners and I, by the French director Agnès Varda, who was in turn influenced by the 19th-century painting by Millet calledThe Gleaners, of women harvesting in a field. “For me, as a musician, you glean things from the people you play with and the music you listen to, but it takes work to get the most out of everything, to harvest the things you can use yourself,” Grenadier says. “I’ve always felt something like that as an artistic credo – working to get to the good stuff. Even in the middle of a gig with, say, Brad Mehldau – just trying to be truly in the moment, alive to the best of what’s happening.”

 

Richly conceived, beautifully played and recorded with a sensuous blend of warmth and detail, The Gleaners includes seven original pieces by Grenadier – starting with the deeply melodic arco opener “Oceanic.” Next comes the grooving pizzicato homage “Pettiford,” about which Grenadier says: “That track is my tribute to Oscar Pettiford, one of the first jazz bass players I really dug, when I was a teenager. My piece is based on the chord changes of his tune ‘Laverne’s Walk.’ I’ve also played ‘Pettiford’ in a trio version with Fly.” The album’s other originals range from the arco lyricism of “Vineland” and “The Gleaners” to the pensive pizzicato of “Lovelair” and “Woebegone” (with the latter capped by some artfully overdubbed arco). The interpretations on The Gleaners include touchstones for Grenadier: “Another musical hero of mine has always been Miles Davis, for his sound and the way he thought about music, as well as the bands he put together. I love the Miles and Gil Evans version of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, so including ‘My Man’s Gone Now’ is my nod to that inspiration.”

 

The Gleaners also includes a medley of Coltrane’s “Compassion” and Motian’s “The Owl of Cranston.” Grenadier says: “‘Compassion’ comes from Coltrane’s Meditations suite, an important piece of music for me. It flows into Motian’s ‘Owl of Cranston,’ which I used to play with Paul. His tunes are just fabulous – they’re so melodic, but the flow of the rhythm, often out of tempo, is the thing. I love Paul’s approach to composition and his approach to music in general – his influence is so strong among my generation. I got to spend more than a decade with him onstage and in the studio, which meant that I could absorb this long history of music, from his days with Bill Evans and then Keith Jarrett to his albums as a leader on ECM and that great trio with Bill Frisell and Joe Lovano. Throughout all that he did, there is this open approach, where you hear time beyond strict metronomic time, free but with a flow. He could play so loose because he was so rooted in the tradition. As he might say, to play out you have to be able to playin. The great musicians I’ve played alongside – from Joe Henderson and Paul Motian to Brad Mehldau and Pat Metheny – all teach the same thing: know your instrument really well, listen closely and be open to the moment and its possibilities.”

 

Born in 1966, Grenadier grew up in San Francisco, his family a musical one. At age 10, he began learning the trumpet, which was father’s instrument. His dad taught him how to read music, and he was soon given his first electric bass, which enabled him to play cover tunes in a trio with his two brothers. After being introduced to jazz at home, Grenadier had his passion for the music stoked at age 12 by witnessing a live performance by bass kingpin Ray Brown. That pivotal event led him to explore the work of such bass greats as Pettiford, Charles Mingus, Paul Chambers and Wilbur Ware. “The more I got into jazz, the more I gravitated toward the upright bass as my main instrument,” Grenadier recalls. “I was drawn to the acoustic instrument’s subtlety and its physicality. I liked how the double-bass produces its sound naturally. The instrument still holds mystery for me – I remain fascinated by it all these years later.”

 

About his prime influences as a bassist, Grenadier runs down those players and qualities that have meant the most to him: Brown (“such a huge beat, such clarity of sound – what he played on bass offered so much information that you had to pay attention to it”); Pettiford (“for his clarity, melodicism, swing-to-bop values, the way he dug chamber music, too”); Mingus (“huge technical ability on the bass, along with his incredible composing and bandleading”); and Scott LaFaro (“his incredible technique and his individuality – he was sui generis, like Jaco Pastorius”). Along with those figures, and Holland and Vitous, Grenadier’s key bass influences also include Charlie Haden, Eddie Gomez, George Mraz and Marc Johnson. “All these players have been about developing a distinctive voice on the bass, with the technique to convey their ideas with real lucidity,” he says. “Obviously, Charlie was a very different player than someone like Miroslav, but they both rank as advanced speakers on their instrument. It’s about pushing yourself technically so that you can get across what you’re trying to express.”

 

The art of music “remains a learning experience for me, above all,” Grenadier concludes. “I’m always working on the technical aspects of my playing, but at the same time, I know that what happens onstage isn’t all about that. The level of intuition that exists in music, especially in jazz, is a constant reminder to me of what humans are capable of, both in music and beyond. I always want to keep a bit of that mystery at play in the music, so as not to over-intellectualize the magic. That’s why I think you have to balance a studied approach to how music works with a primal, instinctual understanding of the way music feels. Having access to technique is essential for being able to communicate and express yourself musically. But, ultimately, music is about emotion. The most vital quality in making music at a heightened level is empathy, the ability to listen and feel.”

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I saw Alessi/Coltrane at the Winter Jazzfest and then bought the CD after the show. Only listened to the album a couple of times, but they were much more dynamic live.

Image may contain: 4 people, people on stage and people playing musical instruments

Edited by BFrank

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