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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 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 11 september 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Verschenen op 18 september 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Verschenen op 9 april 2021 | ECM

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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 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 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 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 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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