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Jazz - Verschenen op 9 april 2021 | ECM

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Pitchfork: Best New Music
Although it stems from a work that Iyer originally crafted back in 2011, one could hardly imagine a better title for a 2021 album release than Uneasy. As the world wobbles onto its post-pandemic footing and the United States begins to take stock of the social and political toll from years of continued divisiveness, any optimism or forward motion one may feel is almost always tempered by the reality of that which came before. That anger and frustration with the past and the resultant realism about the future is at the core of the pianist's first trio album for ECM since 2015's Break Stuff. Like that outing, Uneasy relies on tight, confident interplay between three highly skilled and unique musicians, but this lineup is all new, featuring double-bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Tyshawn Sorey. Iyer's skills as a player, composer, and collaborator have since grown considerably and Uneasy is an excellent showcase for all of them. "Children of Flint" and "Combat Breathing" are stunning compositions, focusing on the human costs of political negligence and malfeasance, forces that have unmistakably driven the uneasiness behind the album's title. "Children of Flint" is the more rigorous of the two, opening the album in a dramatically unfolding manner, but "Combat Breathing" definitely holds its own, finding a sturdy groove that's fueled by fire—not funk—and culminating in a cluster of sonics that evaporates into the ether like so much tear gas. The interplay between the three players is remarkable throughout, most notably on the dramatic "Entrustment," which relies on telepathic communication between the rhythm section and Iyer's piano; likewise, "Retrofit"—a piece written for sextet and appropriately complex—gets handled deftly by these three, giving each plenty of opportunity to shine. Of course, it's Iyer's piano work that holds down the entire affair, and as he wends through the dense, melodic "Touba," he manages to evoke Coltrane's spiritual-era changes, but with a more pensive vibe, while on the solo piece "Augury," his playing is both insistent and introspective. On Uneasy, Iyer continues his unique balancing act of presenting complex and demanding compositional ideas in a framework that's welcoming and accessible, with players who see eye-to-eye and can help execute that vision in a way that's imaginative and invigorating. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 9 april 2021 | ECM

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In general, every new adventure launched by Thomas Strønen is powerfully unique. The Norwegian drummer has retained the Japanese pianist Ayumi Tanaka from his strangely-named ensemble Time Is A Blind Guide, and invited the clarinettist, percussionist and singer Marthe Lea to join the trio. This trio, formed at the Royal Academy of Music in Oslo, have been meeting once a week for almost two years. That's two years of exploration mixing jazz, contemporary, classical and folk music. "Sometimes", says Strønen, "the music was very quiet and minimalist. Playing together generated special experiences." The trio then met in August 2018 in a studio in Lugano, with ECM's Manfred Eicher behind the console, setting down the sparks from their conversations in the wax... and they really were sparks! The sparks created open, delicate and adventurous music, sometimes marked by salutary notes of tension, carried by Strønen's light drumming and Tanaka's piano interplay, whilst occasionally haunted by the ghost of Paul Bley... © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 9 april 2021 | ECM

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Jazz - Verschenen op 19 maart 2021 | ECM

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Baring your soul can sometimes allow you to take stock. The pandemic also plays an obvious introspective role for artists cut off from their audience and the stage. With Entendre, recorded in Lugano in September 2020, Nik Bärtsch sets aside his various outfits (Ronin, Mobile) to find himself alone at the piano. Paradoxically, the Swiss musician finds great freedom in aesthetic restrictions, while seizing the opportunities to take his music to new horizons. That project developed in parallel with his group activities. For Bärtsch, key moments included celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the ECM label at Lincoln Center in New York in 2019, and his collaboration with artist and videographer Sophie Clements. Then there was his 2017 solo piano tour, which took him to Tehran, Alexandria, Cairo, Calcutta and Delhi, which sparked his reflection on the relationship between performance and ritual music in different cultures. Those elements and experiences fed into the preparatory work for Entendre…The numbered pieces entitled Modul, five of the six tracks on the album, seem more like models than fixed, definitive compositions. Bärtsch likens them to “a basic training in martial arts, which can be adapted to all sorts of situations. My way of working is to create new contexts. Each piece plays with the idea of composition, interpretation and improvisation, and is nourished by the same force, yet can create very surprising results”. That is apparent in Modul 58-12, which mixes two old compositions played in group formats, Modul 58 with Ronin on the album Awase (2018) and Modul 12 with Mobile on the album Continuum (2016). “It just developed in that direction in the studio. I didn’t plan it or expect it to open up in that way. The combination of these two pieces is maybe not a coincidence but more of an inner call”. Solo, Bärtsch doesn’t offer a classically jazz piano touch, his style rather intertwining chamber music, solo performance in the classical tradition, but also contemporary and minimalist stylings with a groove. Most interesting of all, Entendre may seem very cerebral but in fact delivers a decidedly carnal collection. It’s a long human adventure with a very narrative approach. At times lyrical, at others refined and minimalist, Entendre ultimately offers a palette as wide as life itself… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 12 februari 2021 | ECM

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Jakob Bro calmly continues on his way, making no waves, but still a guitarist who counts. Underestimated, little-publicised, but truly exciting. Sound, space, melody, silence: the Danish forty-something year old from the ECM crew has his own language, even though the influence of an elder musician like Bill Frisell appears here and there. It's a language that he takes on new paths, such as Uma Elmo, where he is accompanied by the Norwegian Arve Henriksen and Jorge Rossy from Spain. The originality of a guitar, trumpet, drums trio allows the melodies – all written by Bro – to develop in unexpected ways. Here, the three intelligently manipulate sound textures, keeping the serene ambience from seeming slick or even vain. Because this music, which alternates between meditative tracks and live sets, evokes strong emotions. It is as if we are caught in the ocean of sound in which Henriksen's trumpet sings a completely hypnotic siren song, Bro's guitar blows hot and cold, all punctuated by Rossy's stimulating rhythms. On Housework, the exchanges happen against the current, as in a dream, leading to a kind of unstructured jazz held together in a flow of electronic magma. Jakob Bro also salutes his forebears. To Stanko is a tribute to the Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko who died in 2018 and who had welcomed him into his Dark Eyes Quintet. And Music for Black Pigeons is dedicated to the great saxophonist Lee Konitz, who died in 2020... We leave Uma Elmo exhausted. It's a good kind of mental tiredness. Physical, too. A demanding experience and a tonic, that constantly pushes the boundaries of improvised music. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 29 januari 2021 | ECM

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What if Trio Tapestry was one of the most crucial outfits in all of Joe Lovano's long career? A year after a first album for ECM, the Cleveland saxophonist has reunited with his two accomplices, pianist Marilyn Crispell and drummer Carmen Castaldi, for an even more moving recording. Upon the release of the first, Lovano had described this Trio as "a melodic, harmonic, rhythmic musical tapestry throughout, sustaining moods and atmospheres.” Trio Tapestry, above all, had all the hallmarks of a spirited piece of jazz. With this Garden of Expression, spirituality and calm once again underline each improvisation. Lovano, who writes all the compositions, is never a lider maximo but one third of a tightly-welded unit. A unique voice driven by a desire for purity. In what is unspoken, in the notes that are left unplayed, Crispell displays astounding precision. The depth of the playing of this unfairly underestimated pianist has rarely reached such a level. In terms of restraint too, Lovano blows a light wind of saving serenity in these turbulent times (the album is dedicated to the victims of Covid): a breeze that does good and is felt as a welcome pause for recollection. Wonderful. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 6 november 2020 | ECM

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Dino Saluzzi on record is rather uncommon, and Dino Saluzzi playing his bandoneon solo is even rarer.So, Albores is a real treat for aficionados of the Argentinian master. Recorded between February and June 2019 in his Buenos Aires studio, these nine tracks demonstrate how, even with the simplest of instruments, his music is an infinite wellspring of stories. A musical storyteller, Saluzzi renders the most intimate, even personal stories accessible to all. For example, he recounts the work of his composer father Cayetano Saluzzi on Don Caye and on Adiós Maestro Kancheli he pays homage to the Georgian composer Giya Kancheli who died in 2019 and whose repertoire he covered in 2010 on Giya Kancheli: Themes From The Songbook with Gidon Kremer and Andrei Pushkarev. More so than on his previous solo albums released under ECM such as Kultrum (1982) and Andina (1988), Albores completely breaks down the borders between Argentine folklore, jazz, contemporary music and improvised music. The minimalist soliloquies resonate his voice, and his bandoneon seems to play to the rhythm of passing time, drawing the contours of the end of a road that inevitably looms closer at the age of 85. Even in those moments of silence and space in the music, Saluzzi is as charismatic and untouchable as a bard. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 16 oktober 2020 | ECM

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ECM is, without a doubt, the record label that enjoys blurring the lines between jazz and classical the most. So it’s hardly surprising that we find Anja Lechner and François Couturier on this album. Throughout Lontano they sculpt a sound with delicacy and finesse, using their respective experiences, travels, education and imagination to craft a superb borderless score. The German cellist and French pianist already worked together in 2014, linking East and West by revisiting themes by Gurdjieff, Komitas and Mompou. They also collaborated in the Tarkovsky Quartet and in the Il Pergolese project. Lontano’s repertoire is mainly original aside from a few glimpses of Johann Sebastian Bach, Henri Dutilleux, Giya Kancheli and Anouar Brahem (whose Vague - E la nave va was written with Couturier in 2006). Despite the mountain of references, Lechner and Couturier speak a language that is truly their own. It’s like a small chamber symphony nourished by classical, contemporary, folk and jazz music, as well as cinema and literature. Pure grace. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 18 september 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Verschenen op 11 september 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Verschenen op 12 juni 2020 | ECM

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Rather than contempt, familiarity breeds a comfortable groove on Swallow Tales, a shared vision for a group of notable tunes written by the venerable bass veteran Steve Swallow. This straight-ahead conversation between old friends and musical partners was recorded in a brief four hours; the result is a flavorful snapshot of a long and fruitful relationship now over 40 years old between guitarist John Scofield and his mentor Swallow. The pair is accompanied by Scofield's go-to drummer, the versatile Bill Stewart, whom the guitarist has played with in a number of different musical contexts. Energized by the easy charm of musical instinct, this session opens with one of Swallow's most beautiful ballads, "She Was Young," before shifting to "Falling Grace," where Stewart's natural and infallible rhythms support Swallow who sweeps into his signature broken time bass style. Scofield stretches out and shows his sense of invention and flair for concise solos in a fast take "Portsmouth Figurations," a tune he first heard on one of his earliest album influences, Gary Burton's Duster. The most famous number "Eiderdown," (also the first tune Swallow ever wrote and has been covered by the likes of Chick Corea, Bill Evans and Phil Woods), receives a spirited run through with Scofield, who says he once struggled to master these changes. He deftly travels up and down the guitar neck, preferring high notes, while Stewart takes an orderly, articulate solo. Another oft-recorded tune, the waltzy "Hullo Bolinas," is taken at a brisk pace while the bassist's playful borrowing from Cole Porter—"In F"—also features another measured, tasteful solo from Stewart. A reunion more interested in bringing fresh insights to well-known repertoire than pushing envelopes, Swallow Tales is the sound of masters at work. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 29 mei 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Verschenen op 15 mei 2020 | ECM

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Having worked with ECM Records over several decades, Jon Balke is the epitome of the versatile musician. For example, in 2009, the Norweigan pianist, who is now 65 years old, embarked on a new adventure with his album Siwan, an international collective that blurred the boundaries between world music, classical music and jazz. In his latest release, Discourses, Balke returns to his solo work mixing soundscapes made of compositions, improvisations and what we now call “sound design”. He continues the methodology employed on Warp, the deeply introspective album he released in 2016, and develops it further. As is often the case with his piano music the songs are layered with disparate textures that are often acoustic but are sometimes electronic. The flowing melodies are interrupted at times with subtle dissonances and even unexpected sounds. The concept for this 2020 vintage originates from one of Balke’s very own ideas. The Norweigan based his work on various observations about language, viewing the notions of discourse and dialogue as fading concepts in light of the surge of rhetoric characterised by confrontation and conflict. “In this work I had the framework of language with me from the very beginning”, he says. “As the political climate hardened in 2019 with more and more polarized speech, the lack of dialogue pointed me towards the terms that constitute the titles for the tracks”. That being said, you don’t need this discourse in mind to enjoy this vast array of piano figurations which are delightful as they are. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 20 maart 2020 | ECM

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In 2016 and then again in 2018, for his albums Rising Grace and Where the River Goes, Wolfgang Muthspiel surrounded himself with a five-star cast including pianist Brad Mehldau, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and bassist Larry Grenadier. It was enough to show those who still doubted the calibre of the Austrian guitarist that he was still able to draw the greats to his side... for his 2020 offering, this worthy heir to Mick Goodrick and Pat Metheny trims sail to record with double bass player Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade. As his 2014 Driftwood already showed, this trio is a more powerful sounding board for Muthspiel, who alternates between acoustic and electric guitar. The precision of his phrasing, the melodic perfection of his writing (he signs seven of the nine tunes on the record) and the diversity of styles (be-bop with Ride, experimental on Solo Kanon in 5/4 played with a delay, contemplative on Camino) give birth to a contemporary jazz that is once again demanding formally as well as technically. Angular Blues is also a space of total freedom. And that feeling is even stronger on Everything I Love and I'll Remember April, the two unique standards of the album that the three men imbue from head to toe with a lot of ingenuity. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 14 februari 2020 | ECM

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen Choc de Classica
A sage piano stylist audibly influenced by Basie and Monk among others, Carla Bley has over the past 60 years also become one of jazz's preeminent composers. Originally influenced by '60s jazz avant-garde, Bley, as evidenced by her latest, Life Goes On, has fashioned her own jazz ethos—what ECM's Manfred Eicher has called her "radical originality." In jazz groups of any size longevity is often impossible as the essence of the music is often dependent on the potential of new combinations of talent, and yet a large part of Bley's recent success is keyed by her working trio of bassist/life partner Steve Swallow and saxophonist Andy Sheppard, who've been together for 25 years. Based around three suites—her most preferred form of composition—the lean and spacious Life Goes On is wonderfully confident and distinct. The opening movement of the title track is sly blues before turning to two parts that explore her trademark melodic mingling of classical music discipline and free jazz adventure. It concludes with "And Then One Day," where Bley holds down the rhythm with a repeated figure, over which Sheppard plays jaunty lines that have more than a whiff of Paul Desmond's cool tone. "Beautiful Telephones," based upon the current chief executive's comment about the Oval Office's exceptional phones, begins with Bley downshifting emotionally and exploring a more somber mood with Swallow plucking out his notes and Sheppard's tenor saxophone providing an equally unsettling counterpoint. In this work's final movement, the tempos pick up and her characteristic humor comes to the fore as she wryly quotes "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," "The Star-Spangled Banner," "America the Beautiful," and other patriotic hymns in a modern echo of her '70s composition, "Spangled Banner Minor and Other Patriotic Songs." The final suite, "Copycat" explores the hallowed jazz device of call-and-response as a conversation between three supremely accomplished players, whose clairvoyant togetherness shifts between agreeable and discordant. While it's right to applaud the current rush of praise for the fresh energies that youth are bringing to music these days, the deep wisdom and impeccable craft of a pioneer like Bley deserves to be equally acclaimed. © Robert Baird / Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 14 februari 2020 | ECM

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 4F de Télérama
Having moved to New York like a great many Israeli jazz artists, Oded Tzur quickly established his unique tenor saxophone for a simple reason. His teacher was not a player of the instrument, but was none other than the ultimate master of the bansuri flute Hariprasad Chaurasia. By exploring the subtleties of classical Indian music and ragas, the Tel Aviv native was able to build his knowledge of jazz differently. For his arrival on ECM, Oded Tzur joined forces with pianist Nitai Hershkovits, double bassist Petros Klampanis and drummer Jonathan Blake. Each theme on Here Be Dragons presents itself as a sort of mini raga developing over a moving bass and playing on the juxtaposition of two very different musical concepts. “The dialogue between these dimensions takes us wherever it takes us,” details the saxophonist. “For me, the raga is a universal concept. I hear its connection to synagogue prayers or to the blues -- a marvellous creation -- and to music all around the world.” This is a vision he shares with his three colleagues who are all on the same wavelength as him. The level of restraint, the accuracy of the interventions and the talent of manipulating silence are the most impressive on this record, as Tzur easily avoids the contemplative and self-indulging traps. The depth of his sound even allows him to create a rather captivating narrative. The blissful singing appears to invite you to a journey within. This is a sublime album which finishes with a rather surprising cover of Can’t Help Falling In Love by Elvis. With no gimmicks, Oded Tzur makes the King’s iconic hit his own and thus completes his grandiose entry to Manfred Eicher’s label with a cheeky wink. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 6 september 2019 | ECM

Hi-Res Booklet Onderscheidingen 4F de Télérama - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
Piano and trumpet duets are relatively rare. In 1928, while recording Weather Bird, Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines kicked things off, followed much later by Chet Baker and Paul Bley (with Diane in 1985), Tom Harrell and Jacky Terrasson (Moon and Sand in 1991), Martial Solal and Eric le Lann (Portrait in Black and White in 2000), Martial Solal and Dave Douglas (Rue de Seine in 2006), Uri Caine and Paolo Fresu (Things in 2006), Enrico Rava and Stefano Bollani (Rava Plays Rava in 1999 and The Third Man in 2007), Oscar Peterson on five albums (with Dizzy Gillespie, Roy Eldridge, Clark Terry, Jon Faddis and Harry “Sweets” Edison), Clark Terry’s One On One in 2000 (with fourteen different pianists!) and, most recently, Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith (A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke in 2016)... Avishai Cohen and Yonathan Avishai have known each other since their teens in Tel Aviv. The pianist even featured on the trumpeter’s two ECM albums, Into the Silence and Cross My Palm With Silver. Their innate complicity allows them to improvise freely, playfully, and intensely on Playing the Room, their first work as a duo. As the title suggests, the two Israelis also incorporate the room – in this case the Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI studio in Lugano – into their sound and they make full use of its resonant acoustics. They each sign a theme in turn before embarking on an eclectic repertoire by John Coltrane (Cresent), Duke Ellington (Azalea), Abdullah Ibrahim (Kofifi Blue), Ornette Coleman (Dee Dee), Milt Jackson (Ralph’s New Blues), Alexander Argov (Shir Eres) and Stevie Wonder (Sir Duke). And they transform this heterogeneous programme into utterly moving chamber jazz. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Verschenen op 21 juni 2019 | ECM

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Jazz - Verschenen op 26 april 2019 | ECM

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Jazz - Verschenen op 15 maart 2019 | ECM

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