GA Russell

ECM Press Releases for New Items

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7 hours ago, BFrank said:

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

Not surprising given it is ECM. :)

Would you recommend skipping the album?

very excited about Sun of Goldfinger, hope my dreams aren’t shattered

 

 

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Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn - The Transitory Poems

Release date March 15, 2019

 

Vijay Iyer: piano; Craig Taborn: piano

 

Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn in concert

March 12 - Brooklyn, NY - Roulette
March 24 - Knoxville, TN - Big Ears Festival

Further tour dates to be announced...

 

 

Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn, two of creative music's most iconoclastic players, first learned to meld and mesh their artistic approaches in Roscoe Mitchell's Note Factory ensemble (as documented on Mitchell's 2007 recording Far Side). Since then, Iyer and Taborn have continued to play duo concerts together, beginning in early 2009 at The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ and several times since, the world over. The Transitory Poems,recorded live at the Franz Liszt Academy, Budapest in March 2018, is their first duo album. A marvel of shared invention, it incorporates pieces offered as tributes to their common formative influences including pianists Cecil Taylor, Muhal Richard Abrams and Geri Allen, and the painter and sculptor Jack Whitten.

 

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On 1/31/2019 at 5:25 AM, Guy Berger said:

Not surprising given it is ECM. :)

Would you recommend skipping the album?

very excited about Sun of Goldfinger, hope my dreams aren’t shattered

 

 

I've only listened to it a couple of times, and it could be a sleeper. But having said that ... it isn't grabbing my attention, so far.

Definitely looking forward to Sun of Goldfinger!

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The Transitory Poems looks interesting. 

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Areni Agbabian - Bloom

Please note: release date: April 12, 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.

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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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Joe Lovano
Trio Tapestry

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

The great saxophonist Joe Lovano makes his leader debut here, 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. 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.”

LISTEN / BUY
 

IN PRE-ORDER

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 © *2018 ECM Records US, A Division of Verve Music Group. All rights reserved.
 

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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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FWIW I listened to about half of the new Alessi (IMAGINARY FRIENDS) and it was better than I expected.  Comfortably within the “American jazz on ECM” tradition, may be too sleepy for some but mild ECM skeptics would probably enjoy.

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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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Larry Grenadier - The Gleaners

Digital release date: February 15

CD and Vinyl: February 22, 2019

 

Larry Grenadier: double bass

 

Larry Grenadier solo performances:

March 15 New York, NY Zürcher Gallery

March 22 Knoxville, TN Big Ears Festival

 

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.

 

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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

 

 

 

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).

 

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Sokratis Sinopoulos Quartet - Metamodal
release date: April 5, 2019

Sokratis Sinopoulos: lyra; Yann Keerim: piano;

Dimitris Tsekouras: double bass; Dimitris Emmanouil: drums

 

Teaser video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XM4NLVintv4&feature=youtu.be

 

Four years after the critically lauded Eight Winds the Athens-based Sokratis Sinopoulos Quartet returns with the aptly-named Metamodal. A unique band, the quartet subtly sifts a vast pool of influence, its music informed by the players' experience of folk forms, Byzantine and classical music, and many modes of improvising. The combination of Sinopoulos's lyra, with its yearning, ancient tones, and the sensitive, modern piano of Yann Keerim is particularly beguiling, and the group as a whole has made giant steps since its debut. Metamodal, featuring new pieces by Sokratis and a concluding collective improvisation, was recorded in July 2018 at Sierra Studios in Athens, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

ECM

Image

 

 

Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan - Epistrophy

release date: April 12, 2019

 

Bill Frisell: guitar Thomas Morgan: double bass

 

Like their acclaimed ECM release Small Town of 2017 - which The Guardian called "wistful and mesmerizing... tonally ingenious and haunting" - Epistrophy by guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan was recorded at New York City's Village Vanguard. The new album once again captures the rare empathy these two players achieve together in this intimate environment. There are further poetic takes on pieces from the duo's beloved Americana songbook ("All in Fun," "Red River Valley," "Save the Last Dance for Me"), as well as another intense version of a composition by Paul Motian ("Mumbo Jumbo"), an artist whom both the guitarist and bassist knew well. Frisell and Morgan communicate the essence of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" and the Frank Sinatra hit "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," so much so that the famous words seem to hang in the air even without a singer. At the center of the album is a pair of pieces by Thelonious Monk: the funky, angular "Epistrophy" and the ruminative ballad "Pannonica." And as with "Goldfinger" on Small Town, Frisell and Morgan offer a glowing duo interpretation of a melody-rich John Barry title tune from a James Bond film - "You Only Live Twice," which had an EARLY PREMIERE last Friday via NPR Music.

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ECM

 

 

 

Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn

The Transitory Poems

 

Vijay Iyer: piano; Craig Taborn: piano

 

Release date: March 15, 2019

ECM 2644                           

B0029701-02

UPC: 6025 773 0119 3                           

                             

 

Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn in concert

March 12       Brooklyn, NY             Roulette

March 24       Knoxville, TN            Big Ears Festival

Further dates in preparation…

 

 

The Transitory Poems, recorded live in the concert hall of the Franz List Academy of Music in Budapest in March 2018, is the first release from the duo of Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn, two of the most distinctive contemporary improvisers. Each a bandleader in his own right, these highly creative pianists have considerable shared history. They began playing together inside Roscoe Mitchell’s Note Factory in 2002. In Mitchell’s group, Taborn and Iyer were called upon to address complex notated material and to deal, concurrently, with the challenges of instant composing and spontaneous arrangement via collective and individual improvisation. “Our duo formed in the crucible of that band,” Vijay and Craig remark in a performers’ note here, “in pursuit of music unique to its moment of creation.” This has remained the quest throughout their subsequent duo work, shaping music in real time, the project evolving from concert to concert. “Something was born for me in the context of working with Roscoe,” Iyer has said, alluding to “a certain quality of listening: how to navigate, how to give way to each other, how to build together…”

 

Constructive collaboration informs the duo’s music. As Craig Taborn has explained, “part of my practice with improvising is to fully dive in. I become the audience, listening to events and sounds and agency. Whether I’m playing something or not is the first thing I let go of: then I can encounter what is happening.” The musical environment is scanned, details embellished, structures shored up, densities measured, rhythms dovetailed, melodic lines given space to emerge and coalesce. The music is in movement in the fleeting world of The Transitory Poems, transforming and mutating from moment to moment. At times it may acknowledge the vast history of music for two pianos although, as Craig has also pointed out, he and Vijay are “both composers and improvisers and orchestrational pianists - so the question of instrument is just a fact of the context, and not the primary challenge.”

 

Listening back to their recording, the players heard it as “a series of homages” to great artists who had profoundly influenced them, artists who had recently passed away. “Luminous Brew” is dedicated to Cecil Taylor, the pianist whose music, in its intensity, polyrhythmic complexity and sound organization, remains a vital reference for a generation of musicians. The Iyer/Taborn album title derives from a Taylor interview, in which humanity and its endeavors are considered ‘transitory poems’, unfolding against a backdrop of the mountains that are here to stay.

 

“Clear Monolith” is for Muhal Richard Abrams, the visionary pianist, composer and improviser, who lit the paths of the early AACM and opened unexplored routes for the music. The painter and sculptor Jack Whitten, dedicatee of “Sensorium”, described himself - in his log Notes from the Woodshed - as “a quantum expressionist”. Whitten derived much inspiration for his work from jazz, and spoke of translating Coltrane’s sheets of sound into sheets of light.

 

The final track is dedicated to Geri Allen and hints of her theme “When Kabuya Dances” emerge gradually through the improvisation that is “Meshwork”, before the Allen composition, a modern classic, comes to the fore.

 

***

 

The New York Times has suggested that “there’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of Vijay Iyer.” Each of his ECM releases has highlighted another aspect of wide-ranging work. Mutations, with Iyer’s compositions for piano, string quartet and electronics was recorded in 2013 and described by The Guardian as “thoughtful, typically original and very exciting.” It was followed by Radhe Radhe, Rites of Holi a collaboration with director Prashant Bhargava, which DownBeat called “his most challenging and impressive work, the scintillating score to a compelling film.” Break Stuff featured Iyer’s popular trio with Stephan Crump and Marcus Gilmore (“a smashing success” – JazzTimes). A cosmic rhythm with each strokebrought Iyer together with his “hero, friend and teacher” Wadada Leo Smith to play “unique music outside all the categories” (Die Weltwoche), inspired by the art of Nasreen Mohamedi.Far From Over, with the Vijay Iyer Sextet, with Graham Haynes, Steve Lehman, Mark Shim, Stephan Crump and Tyshawn Sorey, was showered with accolades. “If you’re looking for the shape of jazz to come, here it is”, wrote Rolling Stone. Far From Over was voted #1 album in the NPR Critics Poll, with the Iyer Sextet also the band of the year and Vijay musician of the year in the DownBeat Critics Poll 2018.

 

Craig Taborn’s Avenging Angel, recorded 2010, set some new directions for solo piano music. (“As exhilarating as it is serene, and as evocatively melodic as it is unsettlingly recondite, it’s a masterpiece of invention” – All About Jazz). Chants, recorded 2012, brought to a conclusion the group music Taborn had been developing over an eight-year period with drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist Thomas Morgan. “The songs on ‘Chants’, are positively shimmering, immaculately detailed, prismatic and very improvisational,” noted DownBeat. Daylight Ghostsintroduced a new quartet with some old friends – Dave King, Chris Speed and Chris Lightcap – again to rave reviews. This was the sound, Jazziz opined, “of an already great musician cementing his place in the upper ranks of contemporary pianists and composers.”

 

Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn first recorded together on Roscoe Mitchell’s Song for My Sister (Pi)in 2002, with their first shared ECM credit being the Mitchell album Far Side (2007), recently reprised in the box set The Art Ensemble of Chicago and Associated Ensembles. Taborn’s ECM debut was also with Roscoe, on 1997’s Nine to Get Ready. Craig appears furthermore on two albums with the Mitchell and Evan Parker-led Transatlantic Art Ensemble –Composition/Improvisation Nos. 1, 2 & 3 and Boustrophedon - as well as with Mitchell’s assembled trios on Bells for the South Side. Other Taborn appearances on ECM include Michael Formanek’s The Rub and Spare Change and Small Places, Chris Potter’s Imaginary Cities and The Sirens, Ches Smith’s The Bell and David Torn’s Prezens.

 

Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn have a number of concerts this season including a performance as part of the focus on ECM at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, March 21-24.

 

 
 

 

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Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan

Epistrophy

 

Bill Frisell: electric guitar

Thomas Morgan: double-bass

Release date: April 12, 2019

ECM 2626   

B0029977-02

UPC: 6025 577 0156 2

LP 6025 773 9824 7

 

 

Like the duo’s acclaimed ECM release Small Town of 2017 – which The Guardian called “wistful and mesmerizing… tonally ingenious and haunting” – the new Epistrophy by guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan was recorded at New York City’s Village Vanguard. The album once again captures the rare empathy these two players achieve in this intimate environment. There are poetic takes on pieces from the duo’s beloved Americana songbook (“All in Fun,” “Red River Valley,” “Save the Last Dance for Me”), as well as an intense version of a composition by Paul Motian (“Mumbo Jumbo”), an artist whom both the guitarist and bassist knew well. Frisell and Morgan communicate the essence of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” and the Frank Sinatra hit “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” so much so that their famous words seem to hang in the air even without a singer. At the center of the album is a pair of pieces by Thelonious Monk: the funky, angular “Epistrophy” and the ruminative ballad “Pannonica.” And as with “Goldfinger” on Small Town, Frisell and Morgan offer a glowing duo interpretation of a melody-rich John Barry title tune from a James Bond film – “You Only Live Twice.”

Frisell made his debut as a leader for ECM in 1983 with In Line, establishing one of the most distinctive sounds of any modern guitarist. His rich history with the label also includes multiple recordings by the iconic cooperative trio with Paul Motian and Joe Lovano, culminating in Time and Time Again in 2007. Morgan, who also performed and recorded with Motian, has appeared on ECM as bassist of choice for Tomasz Stanko, Craig Taborn, Jakob Bro, David Virelles, Giovanni Guidi and Masabumi Kikuchi. One of the bonds Frisell and Morgan share is the connection with Motian and his music. Small Town included a tribute to Motian in the form of a searching, 11-minute interpretation of the late drummer’s composition “It Should’ve Happened a Long Time Ago.” On Epistrophy, the duo features “Mumbo Jumbo,” a very different sort of Motian composition. “It’s one of Paul’s denser, more abstract pieces,” Frisell explains. “But as with all of Paul’s tunes, you play the melody of ‘Mumbo Jumbo’ and it puts you in this special world, where every note suggests all these possibilities. Thomas and I are right there together in this music. I had played ‘Mumbo Jumbo’ with Paul and Joe, but Thomas showed me things in the piece I didn’t realize were there.”

 

A discovery for many listeners will be the beauty of “You Only Live Twice” in a jazz context. “John Barry’s music was one of those things I took for granted as a kid in the ’60s,” Frisell recalls. “I didn’t necessarily take it seriously, even if I liked it when I heard it in a James Bond movie. But I have revelations about music I overlooked all the time, as I develop a deeper understanding about what music really is. If you strip away the pop-culture associations of a tune like ‘You Only Live Twice,’ as with ‘Goldfinger,’ you’re left with these beautiful chords and melodies. So, in the stripped-down context of the duo, we’re trying to get at the essence of this music. I’ve been pretty obsessive about the sources of pieces, trying to understand all the little details – like in the orchestrations of the John Barry tunes. Thomas is an ideal partner for that, as he has a way of getting at all the inner parts.”

 

Frisell has long been a prime exponent of the Americana repertoire in improvised music, a fascination he shares with Morgan. It was the bassist who suggested the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein composition “All in Fun” and the Drifters’ 1960 soul hit “Save the Last Dance for Me” (the latter of which includes an intro from the folk tune “Wildwood Flower,” a Frisell favorite). “Bill and I starting playing ‘All in Fun’ from our first set as a duo,” Morgan says. “It's originally from Very Warm for May, the same 1939 Broadway musical that included ‘All the Things You Are.’ The lyrics start by sounding callous, but then turn out to be heartfelt. The music matches the words, with a sharp ninth scale degree in the opening phrase that’s resolved to the major third by the end. So much warmth comes through Bill’s sound that he just seems perfect for the song. The Drifters’ record of ‘Save the Last Dance for Me’ is a classic. It’s amazing that the song only uses the three most common chords, but the melody is full of suspensions that feel natural and melodic while they’re making the harmonies richer. Maybe that’s also why it feels good to accompany it in a simple way. That and the fact that Bill is right there keeping the rhythm going and playing the melody with the nuances of a singer.”

 

When it comes to Americana tunes – like the traditional folk song “Red River Valley,” also featured on Epistrophy – Frisell was initiated into their possibilities as jazz repertoire by Sonny Rollins. “Sonny was a beacon, playing a tune like ‘I’m an Old Cowhand’ – which he probably heard in a movie when he was a kid – with respect and affection,” the guitarist says. “One of the first jazz LPs I ever bought was his Way Out West, and it was like a light turning on for me. Later, I got into Gary Burton’s band with Larry Coryell, and they played Bob Dylan and country tunes. The musicians I’m drawn to most are those who don’t have some over-simplified hierarchy of musical worth where a folk song doesn’t have the same value as something more complicated. There can be a real depth to that music.”

 

Two other tracks on Epistrophy come from the realm of late-night, lonely-heart ballads: Billy Strayhorn’s iconic “Lush Life” and the signature Frank Sinatra number “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning.” Frisell recalls the Sinatra song as something else that he didn’t appreciate fully when he was younger. “A record like that would’ve seemed as if it belonged to my parents’ generation, but then I’d read where Miles Davis dug Sinatra’s phrasing on that and it’s like, ‘Oh, I have to check this out,’ with the beauty of it finally revealing itself to me. But when it comes to a song like ‘Lush Life,’ that’s something I’ve tried to play for years and years – it can be intimidating, the legacy of it. It’s heavy, whether you hear the recording of Strayhorn singing it himself in a bar or you listen to the famous Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane record. Again, it has just been a process of trying to get to the essence of the song, to play what he really wrote.”

 

The heart of Epistrophy belongs to Thelonious Monk, with the title track and the ballad “Pannonica,” tunes Frisell calls “magical.” The cover painting – by the late Charles Cajori, part of the second generation of Abstract Expressionists – is also titled Epistrophy. Cajori was a friend of Frisell’s parents, a hip, jazz-inspired figure who, whenever he visited Denver, would tell a wide-eyed Frisell about seeing the likes of Miles and Monk at the Vanguard. “He talked with me like an adult, even though I was just a little boy in Colorado,” the guitarist recalls. “What he said stuck with me. Decades later, I looked him up – he was teaching at the New York Studio School. I wrote him a letter telling him how much those conversations meant to me. We got together and became close in his later years, and we talked about him being friends with Morton Feldman and seeing Monk with Coltrane at the Five Spot, all that great stuff again. That’s when he told me about this painting he had done called Epistrophy. It means a lot to me that we could use it on the cover of this album.”

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Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn

The Transitory Poems

 

Vijay Iyer: piano; Craig Taborn: piano

 

Release date: March 15, 2019

ECM 2644                           

B0029701-02

UPC: 6025 773 0119 3                           

                             

 

Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn in concert

March 12       Brooklyn, NY             Roulette

March 24       Knoxville, TN            Big Ears Festival

Further dates in preparation…

 

 

The Transitory Poems, recorded live in the concert hall of the Franz List Academy of Music in Budapest in March 2018, is the first release from the duo of Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn, two of the most distinctive contemporary improvisers. Each a bandleader in his own right, these highly creative pianists have considerable shared history. They began playing together inside Roscoe Mitchell’s Note Factory in 2002. In Mitchell’s group, Taborn and Iyer were called upon to address complex notated material and to deal, concurrently, with the challenges of instant composing and spontaneous arrangement via collective and individual improvisation. “Our duo formed in the crucible of that band,” Vijay and Craig remark in a performers’ note here, “in pursuit of music unique to its moment of creation.” This has remained the quest throughout their subsequent duo work, shaping music in real time, the project evolving from concert to concert. “Something was born for me in the context of working with Roscoe,” Iyer has said, alluding to “a certain quality of listening: how to navigate, how to give way to each other, how to build together…”

 

Constructive collaboration informs the duo’s music. As Craig Taborn has explained, “part of my practice with improvising is to fully dive in. I become the audience, listening to events and sounds and agency. Whether I’m playing something or not is the first thing I let go of: then I can encounter what is happening.” The musical environment is scanned, details embellished, structures shored up, densities measured, rhythms dovetailed, melodic lines given space to emerge and coalesce. The music is in movement in the fleeting world of The Transitory Poems, transforming and mutating from moment to moment. At times it may acknowledge the vast history of music for two pianos although, as Craig has also pointed out, he and Vijay are “both composers and improvisers and orchestrational pianists - so the question of instrument is just a fact of the context, and not the primary challenge.”

 

Listening back to their recording, the players heard it as “a series of homages” to great artists who had profoundly influenced them, artists who had recently passed away. “Luminous Brew” is dedicated to Cecil Taylor, the pianist whose music, in its intensity, polyrhythmic complexity and sound organization, remains a vital reference for a generation of musicians. The Iyer/Taborn album title derives from a Taylor interview, in which humanity and its endeavors are considered ‘transitory poems’, unfolding against a backdrop of the mountains that are here to stay.

 

“Clear Monolith” is for Muhal Richard Abrams, the visionary pianist, composer and improviser, who lit the paths of the early AACM and opened unexplored routes for the music. The painter and sculptor Jack Whitten, dedicatee of “Sensorium”, described himself - in his log Notes from the Woodshed - as “a quantum expressionist”. Whitten derived much inspiration for his work from jazz, and spoke of translating Coltrane’s sheets of sound into sheets of light.

 

The final track is dedicated to Geri Allen and hints of her theme “When Kabuya Dances” emerge gradually through the improvisation that is “Meshwork”, before the Allen composition, a modern classic, comes to the fore.

 

***

 

The New York Times has suggested that “there’s probably no frame wide enough to encompass the creative output of Vijay Iyer.” Each of his ECM releases has highlighted another aspect of wide-ranging work. Mutations, with Iyer’s compositions for piano, string quartet and electronics was recorded in 2013 and described by The Guardian as “thoughtful, typically original and very exciting.” It was followed by Radhe Radhe, Rites of Holi a collaboration with director Prashant Bhargava, which DownBeat called “his most challenging and impressive work, the scintillating score to a compelling film.” Break Stuff featured Iyer’s popular trio with Stephan Crump and Marcus Gilmore (“a smashing success” – JazzTimes). A cosmic rhythm with each strokebrought Iyer together with his “hero, friend and teacher” Wadada Leo Smith to play “unique music outside all the categories” (Die Weltwoche), inspired by the art of Nasreen Mohamedi.Far From Over, with the Vijay Iyer Sextet, with Graham Haynes, Steve Lehman, Mark Shim, Stephan Crump and Tyshawn Sorey, was showered with accolades. “If you’re looking for the shape of jazz to come, here it is”, wrote Rolling Stone. Far From Over was voted #1 album in the NPR Critics Poll, with the Iyer Sextet also the band of the year and Vijay musician of the year in the DownBeat Critics Poll 2018.

 

Craig Taborn’s Avenging Angel, recorded 2010, set some new directions for solo piano music. (“As exhilarating as it is serene, and as evocatively melodic as it is unsettlingly recondite, it’s a masterpiece of invention” – All About Jazz). Chants, recorded 2012, brought to a conclusion the group music Taborn had been developing over an eight-year period with drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist Thomas Morgan. “The songs on ‘Chants’, are positively shimmering, immaculately detailed, prismatic and very improvisational,” noted DownBeat. Daylight Ghostsintroduced a new quartet with some old friends – Dave King, Chris Speed and Chris Lightcap – again to rave reviews. This was the sound, Jazziz opined, “of an already great musician cementing his place in the upper ranks of contemporary pianists and composers.”

 

Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn first recorded together on Roscoe Mitchell’s Song for My Sister (Pi)in 2002, with their first shared ECM credit being the Mitchell album Far Side (2007), recently reprised in the box set The Art Ensemble of Chicago and Associated Ensembles. Taborn’s ECM debut was also with Roscoe, on 1997’s Nine to Get Ready. Craig appears furthermore on two albums with the Mitchell and Evan Parker-led Transatlantic Art Ensemble –Composition/Improvisation Nos. 1, 2 & 3 and Boustrophedon - as well as with Mitchell’s assembled trios on Bells for the South Side. Other Taborn appearances on ECM include Michael Formanek’s The Rub and Spare Change and Small Places, Chris Potter’s Imaginary Cities and The Sirens, Ches Smith’s The Bell and David Torn’s Prezens.

 

Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn have a number of concerts this season including a performance as part of the focus on ECM at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, March 21-24.

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Giovanni Guidi

Avec le temps

 

Giovanni Guidi: piano

Thomas Morgan: double bass

João Lobo: drums

Francesco Bearzatti: tenor saxophone

Roberto Cecchetto: guitar

 

Release date: March 22, 2019

 

ECM  2604     

B0029680-02             

UPC: 6025 770 6280 3                      

 

Giovanni Guidi is one of the most consistently creative pianists in Europe today, focusing inspirations from contemporary jazz and free playing in a strongly lyrical approach of his own. As well as composing his own material, he has a discerning ear for pieces his group might adapt. The new album begins with an extraordinary interpretation of a yearning song of love and loss by the Monaco-born poet-composer-chansonnier Léo Ferré (1916-1993). The melody and atmosphere of Ferré’s “Avec Le Temps”, one of the classics of the French chanson repertoire, are explored in new detail by Guidi and bassist Thomas Morgan. 

 

Of Morgan, Guidi recently noted: “I don’t know if there are other musicians who are so inside the music with every note, who capture everything that’s happening in every moment.” The concentrated soulfulness of the bass playing may put listeners in mind of Charlie Haden’s heyday: Thomas Morgan, too, plays the music not the background. The song’s deep feeling is intensified by João Lobo’s creatively free snare and cymbals, offering fresh color and texture.  Both the title piece here and the closing “Tomasz”, a Guidi original dedicated to the late Tomasz Stanko, take Giovanni’s conception of the art of the trio to the next level, extending the work begun on the critically-praised albums City of Broken Dreams and This Is The Day.

 

Avec le temps also initiates some new departures as Guidi expands his group to quintet size with the addition of saxophonist Francesco Bearzatti and guitarist Roberto Cecchetto for six of the pieces here. The quintet originally toured under the headline Giovanni Guidi Inferno, and while it plainly has the capacity to burn down the house, it also radiates a more differentiated flame, as needs dictate.  Bearzatti and Cecchetto are strikingly original and resourceful musicians, both leaders in their own right. Bearzatti is one of the outstanding saxophonists of his generation in Italy. Anchored in the tradition – he studied with, among others, George Coleman – he also pushes into areas of pure sound exploration and is conceptually open-minded; his own discography including tributes to, for instance, Malcolm X and to Woody Guthrie. Latterly, Bearzatti and Giovanni Guidi have also been playing together in duo.

 

Like Guidi himself, guitarist Roberto Cecchetto has played extensively with Enrico Rava.  Cecchetto was for eight years a core member of Rava’s Electric Five group.  His own leader dates include recordings with Guidi and with Bearzatti, and he has worked with many distinguished players including Gianluigi Trovesi, Lee Konitz, Kenny Wheeler, Roswell Rudd, Stefano Bollani and more.

 

Thomas Morgan’s sensitive work with Tomasz Stanko, David Virelles, Masabumi Kikuchi, Craig Taborn, Jakob Bro, Bill Frisell, and many more has been widely-acclaimed. In the Guidi group he is well-matched by drummer João Lobo, who similarly brings deep listening to every performance. Collectively, the quintet is ready to deal with the challenges of the most diverse material, from the bluesy cast of “15th of August”, to the group creation “No Taxi” which is reminiscent of some of Ornette Coleman’s themes, to the tender lullaby “Ti Stimo”, and the free-flowing ballad “Caino”, which draws forth beautiful playing by Guidi and Bearzatti. As a whole, Avec le temps proposes a fascinating journey over changing terrain.

 

***

 

Giovanni Guidi, born in Foligno, near Perugia, in 1985, was launched on the international stage in the groups of Enrico Rava. After being struck by the focused intensity of the young pianist’s playing during the summer courses of Siena Jazz, Rava invited him into his band. Guidi, who was 17 years old when he first played with the trumpeter, appears with Rava on the ECM albums Tribe and Rava On The Dance Floor. In addition to Giovanni Guidi’s recordings with Thomas Morgan and João Lobo, the pianist can be heard on Ida Lupino, with Gianluca Petrella, Gerald Cleaver and Louis Sclavis, which was voted Italian jazz album of the year in Musica Jazz.

 

Avec le temps was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in Pernes-les-Fontaines in the south of France in November 2017, and produced by Manfred Eicher. As with City of Broken Dreams and This Is The Day, the cover painting is by Emmanuel Barcilon, whose delicate yet intense color-fields provide an apt visual metaphor for the musical poetry of Giovanni Guidi.  

 
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Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn 

The Transitory Poems

Vijay Iyer piano; Craig Taborn piano 
 
A marvel of shared invention from two of creative music’s most resourceful players. Recorded live in 2018, the album incorporated pieces offered as tributes to formative influences.  CD
 

LISTEN / BUY
 
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David Torn / Tim Berne / Ches Smith

Sun of Goldfinger

 

Tim Berne alto saxophone Ches Smith drums, electronics, tanbou 
David Torn electric guitar, live-looping, electronics 
with
Craig Taborn electronics, piano;
Mike Bagetta, Ryan Ferreira guitars, Scorchio String Quartet 
 
Three intense tracks of vast sonic tapestries. An otherworldly creation, ranging from hovering atmospherics to dark-hued lyricism to storming, sky-rending grandeur.  CD/LP

LISTEN / BUY
 
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Dominic Miller

Absinthe

 

Dominic Miller guitar; Santiago Arias: bandoneon; Mike Lindup keyboards;
Nicholas Fiszman bass;  Manu Katché drums
 
Miller fronts a quintet that brings his ever-lyrical compositions to textured life.  Miller has a key harmonic-melodic foil in the bandoneon, with keyboard tones adding a ghostly air, and bass rooting the sound. Vividly present on drums is Manu Katché an ECM veteran and for years Miller’s colleague in Sting’s band. CD/LP

LISTEN / BUY
 
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Larry Grenadier 

The Gleaners

 

Larry Grenadier double bass

An important addition to ECM’s series of distinguished solo bass albums, this is a profound and highly creative album that digs deep into the musical identity of this exceptional bass player.  CD/LP

LISTEN / BUY
 

IN PRE-ORDER

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 © *2018 ECM Records US, A Division of Verve Music Group. All rights reserved.
 
 

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Please note the release of Areni Agbabian's ECM debut "Bloom" will now be April 26th!

 

Areni Agbabian - Bloom
release date: April 26, 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.

 

 

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Giovanni Guidi

Avec le temps

 

Giovanni Guidi: piano

Thomas Morgan: double bass

João Lobo: drums

Francesco Bearzatti: tenor saxophone

Roberto Cecchetto: guitar

 

Release date: March 22, 2019

 

ECM  2604     

B0029680-02             

UPC: 6025 770 6280 3                      

 

Giovanni Guidi is one of the most consistently creative pianists in Europe today, focusing inspirations from contemporary jazz and free playing in a strongly lyrical approach of his own. As well as composing his own material, he has a discerning ear for pieces his group might adapt. The new album begins with an extraordinary interpretation of a yearning song of love and loss by the Monaco-born poet-composer-chansonnier Léo Ferré (1916-1993). The melody and atmosphere of Ferré’s “Avec Le Temps”, one of the classics of the French chanson repertoire, are explored in new detail by Guidi and bassist Thomas Morgan. 

 

Of Morgan, Guidi recently noted: “I don’t know if there are other musicians who are so inside the music with every note, who capture everything that’s happening in every moment.” The concentrated soulfulness of the bass playing may put listeners in mind of Charlie Haden’s heyday: Thomas Morgan, too, plays the music not the background. The song’s deep feeling is intensified by João Lobo’s creatively free snare and cymbals, offering fresh color and texture.  Both the title piece here and the closing “Tomasz”, a Guidi original dedicated to the late Tomasz Stanko, take Giovanni’s conception of the art of the trio to the next level, extending the work begun on the critically-praised albums City of Broken Dreams and This Is The Day.

 

Avec le temps also initiates some new departures as Guidi expands his group to quintet size with the addition of saxophonist Francesco Bearzatti and guitarist Roberto Cecchetto for six of the pieces here. The quintet originally toured under the headline Giovanni Guidi Inferno, and while it plainly has the capacity to burn down the house, it also radiates a more differentiated flame, as needs dictate.  Bearzatti and Cecchetto are strikingly original and resourceful musicians, both leaders in their own right. Bearzatti is one of the outstanding saxophonists of his generation in Italy. Anchored in the tradition – he studied with, among others, George Coleman – he also pushes into areas of pure sound exploration and is conceptually open-minded; his own discography including tributes to, for instance, Malcolm X and to Woody Guthrie. Latterly, Bearzatti and Giovanni Guidi have also been playing together in duo.

 

Like Guidi himself, guitarist Roberto Cecchetto has played extensively with Enrico Rava.  Cecchetto was for eight years a core member of Rava’s Electric Five group.  His own leader dates include recordings with Guidi and with Bearzatti, and he has worked with many distinguished players including Gianluigi Trovesi, Lee Konitz, Kenny Wheeler, Roswell Rudd, Stefano Bollani and more.

 

Thomas Morgan’s sensitive work with Tomasz Stanko, David Virelles, Masabumi Kikuchi, Craig Taborn, Jakob Bro, Bill Frisell, and many more has been widely-acclaimed. In the Guidi group he is well-matched by drummer João Lobo, who similarly brings deep listening to every performance. Collectively, the quintet is ready to deal with the challenges of the most diverse material, from the bluesy cast of “15th of August”, to the group creation “No Taxi” which is reminiscent of some of Ornette Coleman’s themes, to the tender lullaby “Ti Stimo”, and the free-flowing ballad “Caino”, which draws forth beautiful playing by Guidi and Bearzatti. As a whole, Avec le temps proposes a fascinating journey over changing terrain.

 

***

 

Giovanni Guidi, born in Foligno, near Perugia, in 1985, was launched on the international stage in the groups of Enrico Rava. After being struck by the focused intensity of the young pianist’s playing during the summer courses of Siena Jazz, Rava invited him into his band. Guidi, who was 17 years old when he first played with the trumpeter, appears with Rava on the ECM albums Tribe and Rava On The Dance Floor. In addition to Giovanni Guidi’s recordings with Thomas Morgan and João Lobo, the pianist can be heard on Ida Lupino, with Gianluca Petrella, Gerald Cleaver and Louis Sclavis, which was voted Italian jazz album of the year in Musica Jazz.

 

Avec le temps was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in Pernes-les-Fontaines in the south of France in November 2017, and produced by Manfred Eicher. As with City of Broken Dreams and This Is The Day, the cover painting is by Emmanuel Barcilon, whose delicate yet intense color-fields provide an apt visual metaphor for the musical poetry of Giovanni Guidi.  

ECM

 

 

 

Areni Agbabian

Bloom

 

Areni Agbabian: voice, piano

Nicolas Stocker: percussion

Release date: April 26, 2019

ECM 2549                              

B0029232-02                         

UPC: 6025 675 2590 5

 

Areni Agbabian casts a quiet spell with her art, as an improvising vocalist, folk singer, storyteller and pianist. Her voice has been described as “bell-toned” by The Guardian and “lush” by theLos Angeles Times, the music she creates with it “intensely focused, moving toward some kind of hidden truth,” according to The New York Times. Agbabian’s ECM debut, Bloom, has a richness that belies its spare ingredients: just her evocative voice and piano, along with the subtly ingenious percussion of Nicolas Stocker (who was last heard on ECM with Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile ensemble). Born and raised in Los Angeles into an Armenian family, Agbabian came to international attention via performances and recordings with groups led by Armenian jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan. Bloom draws deeply on the singer’s Armenian heritage, as she reinterprets sacred hymns, a traditional spoken-word tale and a dark folk melody transcribed by the great Armenian composer and ethnomusicologist Komitas. She intersperses these among her own vocal and instrumental compositions, which channel a wide world of influences, from Komitas to Tigran Mansurian, from Morton Feldman to George Crumb, from Patty Waters to Kate Bush. The melody that recurs through the highlights “Petal One,” “Petal Two” and “Full Bloom” glows with an aural and emotional purity that’s characteristic of Agbabian’s music.

 

Agbabian recorded Bloom at Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in Lugano, Switzerland, with ECM founder Manfred Eicher producing. The two had met some years before at a post-concert dinner in Paris, with Eicher then listening to her first solo album, Kissy(bag). About the experience of working with the producer for Bloom, Agbabian says: “First of all, the studio in Lugano is a warm wooden room with a natural reverb and projection, perfect for this sort of acoustic music. With his years of experience, Manfred guides an artist to the correct balance musically. As far as my songs went, he suggested a few changes that made them more appropriate for a studio recording as opposed to concert performance. He also suggested that I play slightly different takes of the same material, which created recurring motifs that gave the album narrative shape. There are a couple of pieces credited to Manfred, ‘Rain Drops’ and ‘Whiteness,’ that serve as parentheses within the storybook feel of Bloom. He had suggested that I play a mid-range chord in E-flat and slowly make my way up the keyboard with an airy feel. He conducted these moments live in the studio space.”

 

 Stocker also contributes two solo percussion pieces to the album, “Light Effects” and “Colored.” About the collaboration with the percussionist, Agbabian explains: “When I was invited to check out the studio in Lugano, I met Nicolas while he was playing a Nik Bärtsch session. I could immediately tell that Nicolas was a very kind person, and I really liked the color palette of his percussion setup, which he extended with unique bells and gongs. We ended up working together intensively for a few weeks before recording, both in L.A. and Zurich. I added a few items to his percussion set, such as Tibetan singing bowls. Also, the piano preparations on some of the pieces ended up giving us a unified percussion sound, especially on my piece ‘The Water Bride.’ And ‘The River’ was a pure improvisation by the two of us from which his polyrhythmic groove in ‘Colored’ emerged.”

 

Agbabian has been a singer since she was an infant, already humming melodies at the age of 11 months. Growing up in a world of sound, she was hitting xylophones and drums by age 4, making up melodies and rhythms. She sang rhymes and folk songs with her aunt, a trained opera singer and Armenian music specialist, and her mother, a storyteller and Armenian folklorist. These women imprinted the Armenian language, its tones and inflections, into her mind and body. At age 7, Agbabian began a study of classical piano that lasted for 20 years. Throughout this period, she continued her vocal work, and by her early 20s, she had sung in many choirs of Armenian sacred and Bulgarian folk music, eventually performing traditional Armenian folklore and music professionally. She gradually integrated these byways of her musical journey into an individual musical path.

 

After some years performing in the improvised music scene of New York City, Agbabian returned to her hometown of Los Angeles. She joined Hamasyan’s quintet, touring the world and recording two albums with him; she also wrote the lyrics to “Lament” on his Shadow Theater LP. As a vocalist, Agbabian has worked not only in jazz and folk music but also in contemporary opera, dance, new music and multimedia performance, with her credits including the opera What To Wear by Bang on a Can composer Michael Gordon. She released her solo album Kissy(Bag) in 2014. Of late, Agbabian has been performing Armenian and Persian music in Los Angeles with Lernazang, a group of young folk instrumentalists; she also collaborates with guitarist Gagik “Gagas” Khodavirdi, her husband.

 

Throughout Bloom, a sense of spiritual yearning makes itself felt, strikingly so in Agbabian’s own deeply introspective songs “Patience” and “Mother,” as well as in the Armenian sacred hymn “Anganim Arachi Ko.” The connection between the traditional material and the original songs is virtually genetic. She explains: “Armenian music is in my DNA. It speaks to me on a spiritual level that I cannot explain. In fact, the sacred music eventually is what changed my life. It was through it that I came to know God, and through the imagery of the Biblical stories of the Resurrection written in grabar (classical Armenian) that my heart was transformed. Intellectually, it is probably more difficult than any other music I have studied, European classical music included, especially because of Armenian music’s linguistic and rhythmic challenges, the microtonality and the memorization. I’m in my fourth year of participating in sacred music study and practice. This requires an understanding of ritual time, and supporting the cerebral process of understanding music with conscious listening of my whole person.”  

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Stephan Micus - White Night
release date: April 26, 2019

Stephan Micus: guitars, duduk and bass duduk, cymbals, kalimba, sinding, voice, cane whistles, nay

 

Stephan Micus is an extraordinary musical traveller, exploring the world, collecting instruments and then creating his own musical worlds from them. This is his 23rd album for ECM and on each one he composes the tracks, plays and overdubs them to create unique and exquisite pieces of chamber music. The ten tracks on White Night particularly rely on the sound of various sub-Saharan kalimba (thumb pianos) and the oboe-like Armenian duduk. There are two purely solo tracks, 'All the Way' on a kalimba from Botswana and 'The Moon' on Armenian duduk, while 'Fireflies' has 22 overdubs of Indian whistles, Micus's voice and other instruments. "I dedicate this album to the moon which has always been a source of magic in many cultures," says Micus. "Music too is a source of magic which is where the two connect." Aside from his 14-string guitar, Micus plays instruments from Armenia, Tibet, India, Egypt, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia and Ethiopia, most of them in combinations never heard before.

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Stephan Micus

White Night

 

Stephan Micuskalimbas duduk, bass duduk, sindingdondon, fourteen-string guitar, steel string guitar, Tibetan cymbals, cane whistles, vocals 

 

Release date: April 26, 2019

 

ECM 2639                            

B0029979-02

UPC: 6025 773 6220 0                                          

 

 

Though the purity of the moonlight has silenced both nightingale and cricket,

the cuckoo alone sings all the white night. (Anonymous, Japanese)

 

 

“I’ve always been inspired by moonlight,” says Stephan Micus. “Often I go walking, swimming in the sea or, best of all, cross-country skiing when the moon turns the snow into millions of diamonds. Moonlight for me has a special magic.”

 

Stephan Micus has a strong and physical relationship with nature, landscapes and the people who inhabit them, all over the world. You hear that in his music which is created for instruments he has collected in years of travels and re-fashioned for his own use. He plays all the parts and multi-tracks them with up to 22 layers on the ‘Fireflies’ track on this album. By contrast, ‘The Moon’ and ‘All the Way’ are solo pieces recorded in one take.

 

On White Night, his 23rd solo album for ECM, Micus takes us on a journey into an imaginary world entering at ‘The Eastern Gate’ and exiting at ‘The Western Gate’. In between the gates unfold the different scenes of the composition: ‘The Bridge’, ‘The River’, ‘The Moon’ and so on. Aside from the 14 string guitar, to conjure this world Micus plays instruments from Armenia, Tibet, India, Egypt, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia and Ethiopia, most of them in combinations never heard before.

 

For each of his albums, Micus uses a defined cast of instruments to create its distinctive sound world. On White Night, the leading characters are African ‘thumb pianos’ (kalimba) and the Armenian duduk, two instruments which are extremely different in their personalities. The duduk always has a trace of melancholy, whereas the kalimba is imbued with a spirit of joy. To combine the two is like bringing two irreconcilable spirits together.

 

The technical name for the kalimba is a lamellophone, which comprises metal tongues attached to a resonator. They are known by different names in various parts of sub-Saharan Africa - mbira, kalimba, sanza, ndingo etc. On this album Micus uses instruments he has collected in Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia and Ethiopia. “These are old and unique instruments,” he says. “Most of them I found in remote villages and so each one has its own story connected with the people I met, with the landscapes and these memories help me create the music for them, something an instrument bought in a shop could never do. In most cases I change the tunings according to the music which evolves when I start improvising on them. My first kalimba I bought in Tanzania some 26 years ago.”

 

“Whenever I travel I take a kalimba with me on my journey. It’s such a great instrument to carry along,” says Micus who has a practical relationship with these instruments. “It’s small and doesn’t disturb anyone. This enables me to keep working on some tunes and rhythms even if I am on the road.”

 

One of the solo tracks at the heart of the album is ‘All the Way’, played on a kalimba Micus bought in a village where the indigenous San people have been settled in Botswana. This is a one-take performance on an instrument of 22 keys.

 

“I admire the way that for thousands of years, the San lived on the land without leaving any traces or without doing any damage to it, just like the Australian aborigines or Native Americans. But strangely people have always looked down on these people, while really we should honour them for this great achievement”. This kalimba solo is a tribute to all people who respect our planet and preserve its amazing beauty. Another kalimba, from Tanzania, that Micus uses on ‘The River’, has small rings on its keys creating a buzzing sound like waves and splashes in the water.

 

On ‘The Bridge’ and ‘The Forest’, Micus uses a kalimba specially created for this album. He commissioned the South African instrumentalist Phillip Nangle to build an instrument with just bronze keys instead of the usual steel ones. Bronze gives a warmer, more mellow sound, which makes a superb accompaniment to Micus’ voice singing his lyrics in an invented language.

 

Micus has made two trips to Armenia to learn to play the duduk, the plaintive, oboe-like instrument which lends its melancholy tone to so much Armenian music. The first time he studied with Djivan Gasparyan, the second with Gevorg Dabaghyan, two musicians who are considered by many to be the greatest living masters. He’s used the duduk on two previous albums Towards the Wind (2002) and Snow (2008). Traditionally the bass duduk is only used as an accompanying drone, playing just one or two notes. But on the opening and closing tracks ofWhite Night Micus uses it for soulful melodies that frame his story with themes of deep profundity. You’ve never heard a duduk go as low as this.

 

The other solo in the center of the album is ‘The Moon’, a duduk solo, played on a much smaller instrument than the standard one. The composition has nothing to do with traditional Armenian music, but certainly evokes the lonely, misty and ethereal shimmer of the moon in the night sky.

 

For many of his CD booklets Micus chooses a small text to intensify the particular mood of each album. For White Night he’s chosen a Japanese poem, so the track ‘The Poet’ could represent the anonymous writer reciting his verse about the entrancing birdsong in the white, moonlit night.

 

Other striking instruments we hear are Indian cane whistles multi-tracked many times, which in ‘Fireflies’ alternate with Micus’ own voice in chorus. “They are simple cane flutes which you play like a recorder. I bought them on the street somewhere costing a few cents each.” And there are the Tibetan cymbals which Micus bought in Ladakh. These are ritual temple instruments and their clashing rhythms bring a ceremonial quality to the opening and closing of this album.

 

It’s a reminder that Stephan Micus’ music has a profundity, that connects to cultures all over the world and their musical expression. But as he says, “it makes no sense for me to play traditional Armenian duduk.” His desire is to take us on a journey, using rare and obscure instruments combined in a novel way, to reach out to our universal emotions.

 

“Nowadays people in cities have lost contact with the moon,” says Micus. “I have lived all my life in the countryside and have had the privilege to experience many nights around the full moon. That’s why I dedicate this album to the moon which has always been a source of magic in many cultures. Music too is a source of magic which is where the two connect.”

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Please note the release of Areni Agbabian's ECM debut "Bloom" will now be April 26th!

 

Areni Agbabian - Bloom
release date: April 26, 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.

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A new video has just been released - see here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qn70s2nlEOA&feature=youtu.be

 

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."

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Sokratis Sinopoulos Quartet

Metamodal

 

Sokratis Sinopoulos: lyra

Yann Keerim: piano

Dimitris Tsekouras: double bass

Dimitris Emmanouil: drums

 

Release date: April 5, 2018

ECM 2631   

B0029699-02                   

CD: 6025 770 2553 2                           

 

 

Four years after the critically lauded album Eight Winds, the Athens-based Sokratis Sinopoulos Quartet returns with the aptly-named Metamodal. A unique band, the quartet subtly sifts a vast pool of influence, its music informed by the players’ experience of folk forms, Byzantine and classical music, and many modes of improvising, including jazz. The combination of Sinopoulos’ lyra, with its yearning, ancient tones, and the sensitive, modern piano of Yann Keerim is particularly beguiling, and the group as a whole has made giant steps since its debut. Metamodal, featuring new pieces by Sokratis and a concluding group improvisation, was recorded at Sierra Studios in Athens, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

 

Of the quartet and its progress, Sokratis says: “We are four people who continue to meet and exchange music and thoughts, braver now in experimenting with new concepts, and with the interaction between us. For me the quartet is the ideal group for exploring compositional ideas and new forms, and I really like the fact that we are able to keep the spark and the fire burning like it’s the first time we meet every time we play.”

 

The album begins with Sokratis playing his aching “Lament”, outlining troubled beauty against poignant chords in the piano from Keerim. The lyra at once embodies the qualities that Charles Lloyd has spoken of: “When Sokratis Sinopoulos plays, I can see all the history vibrating with the ancient sounds of the strings.”

 

The history of the lyra reaches back to the Byzantine era. “I’m very conscious of it,” says Sokratis, “and glad to play an instrument with such a long tradition. Of course, the history can also be a weight, a responsibility to carry. Especially where I live in Greece there are expectations of how the lyra should sound in traditional contexts, in folk music. I respect the history but seek to use it as a base from which to move forward, hoping to mirror the past and the future in my writing and improvising.”

 

The most forward-looking pieces on the present recording may be the three “Metamodal” pieces here, subtitled “Liquid”, “Illusions” and “Dimensions”. Sinopoulos: “From the compositional point of view these pieces are the core of the album to me. Starting from the modal system I know best, the medieval approach, I tried to create new dimensions and systems and bring them into what we understand as modality here in the Eastern Mediterranean region. In other words, creating new modes and developing them melodically, using the knowledge that we have of all the idioms we admire, including of course jazz, as well as contemporary composition. Sometimes the pieces were developed until I arrived at the point where the music became quite abstract, which I liked in this case.”

 

The album title has open-ended significance for Sinopoulos. Metamodal could be interpreted as “post-modal” but Sokratis reminds us that the Greek root meta also translates as among, between, behind and in the midst of and carries the idea of changed and altered as well. “I’m interested in all the meanings that can be implied by Metamodal.”  

 

Most of Metamodal was recorded, Sokratis notes, in a single day. On the second day, experiments were broached: “Manfred Eicher suggested we might record an improvised piece. At this point we had the whole album in our ears, so I asked the musicians to use material from ‘Metamodal II’, as well as material from the rest of the album as a basis for new music.” The result was “Mnemosyne”, the concluding piece on the album: “This improvisation is like a memory, or an echo, of the whole recording session.”

 

 

***

 

Born in Athens in 1974, Sokratis Sinopoulos studied Byzantine music and classical guitar as a child, and began playing the lyra in 1988, under the instruction of Ross Daly; within a year he was a member of his mentor’s group, Labyrinthos. He has since recorded and performed with numerous Greek artists and musicians from all over the world.

 

At ECM Sokratis has appeared on five albums with composer Eleni Karaindrou: Trojan Women, The Weeping Meadow, Elegy of the Uprooting, Medea and the recently-released Tous des Oiseaux.

 

It was after playing with Charles Lloyd (refer to the ECM album Athens Concert) that Sokratis Sinopoulos decided to take the step of leading his own group. “I have been influenced by so many musicians of many styles, since I was 15 years old but the experience with Charles, with his great talent for creating a story on stage every night through improvisation, sometimes free improvisation, was crucial for me, and gave me new confidence.”

 

In addition to his playing activities, Sinopoulos has been involved in research and production for the Domnia Samiou Greek Folk Music Association, has worked with the Centre for Asia Minor Studies on diverse projects, and lectured in the Department of Music Science and Art at the Macedonia University of Thessaloniki.

 

Yann Keerim began playing piano at the age of four and received his diploma in classical music at the age of 16. His compositions have been incorporated in numerous films and theatre productions. As pianist he has performed with jazz and ‘world music’ artists including Ara Dinkjian, Manos Achinotopoulos, and Haig Yazdjian.

 

Dimitris Tsekouras (born 1985 in Athens) comes from a musical family. He played piano, violin, guitar and drums before settling on the bass, which he studied at the Conservatory of Athens.

 

Dimitris Emmanouil graduated from the Music High School of Pallini, specialized in Greektraditional percussion and Latin percussion. He won the Greek Young Artist Award in 1997 and since then has worked with many groups of traditional Greek music and dance companies.

 

Sokratis Sinopoulos on his fellow musicians: “All three of them – Yann and the two Dimitris – have, like me, strong roots and knowledge and appreciation of the historic music of the region, the modal music not just of Greece but the whole Eastern Mediterranean and have performed a lot of it. Dimitris Emmanouil, for instance, spent every summer on the island of Ikaria in the East Aegean, playing bendir and darbouka in celebrations that would often last for days. Dimitris Tsekouras has played a lot of Greek folk music, as well as music of Italy. Yann Keerim has played with Syrian musicians, Armenian musicians and more. The very first time I heard him, he was playing with an Armenian oud player.

 

“All of this is very important, because we have a shared common knowledge of traditional music, and a shared feeling for its rhythms, and it forms the basis of our communication, even if that is not immediately apparent to a jazz listener. At the same time, each of the musicians is a creative individual, bringing his own ideas into music that is becoming more open-ended all the time. This keeps the collaboration interesting, because each concert can be a different experience.”

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ECM has just posted this lovely teaser for the April 26th debut release from Areni Agbabian:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8ME9J8rpTk&feature=youtu.be

maxresdefault.jpg
 
Areni Agbabian Bloom Areni Agbabian: voice, piano Nicolas Stocker: percussion ECM 2549 CD 6025 675 2590 5 Release: April 26, 2019 Improvising vocalist, folk ...
www.youtube.com

 

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Giovanni Guidi
Avec le temps
 

Giovanni Guidi piano;
Francesco Bearzatti tenor saxophone;
Roberto Cecchetto guitar;
Thomas Morgan double bass;
João Lobo drums 

  A program of strikingly contrasting energies and colours, with outstanding playing by all participants.

  
[ WATCH ALBUM TEASER ]

LISTEN / BUY
 
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Areni Agbabian
Bloom
 

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.

[ WATCH ALBUM TEASER ]

 
LISTEN / BUY
 
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Eleni Karaindrou

Tous des oiseaux 

Savina Yannatou: voice;
Alexandros Botinis: violoncello;
Stella Gadedi: flute;
Vangelis Christopoulos: oboe;
Yiannis Evangelatos: bassoon;
Dinos Hadjiiordanou: accordion;
Aris Dimitriadis: mandolin;
Maria Bildea: harp;
Eleni Karaindrou: piano;
Sokratis Sinopoulos: Constantinople lyra, lute;
Nikos Paraoulakis: ney;
Stefanos Dorbarakis: kanonaki;
Giorgos Kontoyannis: percussion, Cretan lyra.
String orchestra conducted by Argyro Seira

Karaindrou’s luminous themes and arrangements acquire new contours and continuity through the mixing and editing of producer Manfred Eicher.

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Sokratis Sinopoulos Quartet
Metamodal

Sokratis Sinopoulos: lyra;
Yann Keerim: piano;
Dimitris Tsekouras: double bass;
Dimitris Emmanouil: drums 

A unique band, the quartet subtly sifts a vast pool of influence, its music informed by the players’ experience of folk forms, Byzantine and classical music, and many modes of improvising.


[ WATCH ALBUM TEASER ]
 
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Stephan Micus
White Night 

 
Stephan Micus: guitars, duduk and bass duduk, cymbals,
kalimba, sinding, voice, cane whistles, nay 
                   
Stephan Micus is an extraordinary musical traveller, exploring the world, collecting instruments and then creating his own musical worlds from them.

[ WATCH ALBUM TEASER ]
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© 2019 ECM Records. All rights reserved. 1755 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
 
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