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Jazz - To be released October 8, 2021 | ECM

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Jazz - To be released October 8, 2021 | ECM

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Jazz - To be released September 24, 2021 | ECM

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Jazz - To be released September 24, 2021 | ECM

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Jazz - Released September 10, 2021 | ECM

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Jazz - Released September 10, 2021 | ECM

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Jazz - Released August 27, 2021 | ECM

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Before he was able to carve out his own identity, Marc Johnson was known for many years as "Bill Evans' last bassist", a glorious gig which boosted his reputation and enabled him to launch the excellent group Bass Desires with John Scofield, Bill Frisell and Peter Erskine, a few years after Evans' death. What followed was a mixture of tasteful collaborations with people as eclectic as Mel Lewis, Jim Hall, Stan Getz, John Abercrombie, Michael Brecker, Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano, Pat Metheny, Enrico Pieranunzi and, his wife, Eliane Elias... At 67 years of age, Marc Johnson brought out Overpass, recorded in January and February of 2018 at the Nacema studio in São Paulo and co-produced with Eliane Elias. An entirely solo album for ECM, a label that is fond of solo records by double bassists. This is the kind of material that promotes introspection, and retrospection too. It is therefore not surprising that Overpass contains the Miles Davis standard Nardis, a cornerstone of Bill Evans' repertoire, as well as Alex North's Love Theme from Spartacus, another of the pianist's favourite compositions. Marc Johnson has written five original compositions, including Samurai Fly, a sort of facelift for Samurai Hee-Haw recorded in the past for ECM with Bass Desires and with John Abercrombie's trio. Each song follows on from the other with impressive flexibility. Johnson's full, rounded-out sound and the finesse of his timing help save us from four-string overdose. This type of solo exercise is hard to sustain across an entire album, but the American bassist always keeps a serious sense of narrative in mind, constantly developing new ideas and high-flying improvisations. Overall, it's impressive. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

Jazz - Released August 27, 2021 | ECM

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At 81, master drummer Andrew Cyrille shows no signs of slowing down. He signed to ECM for 2016's brilliant quartet offering Declaration of Musical Independence, which included guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Richard Teitelbaum, and bassist Ben Street. For 2018's Lebroba, he delivered a trio outing with the guitarist and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. Cyrille returns to the quartet format on The News, with Street, Frisell, and pianist David Virelles (replacing Teitelbaum, who died in 2020). The drummer, pianist, and bassist all worked together before on Virelles' masterful 2012 album Continuum. Cyrille's remarkable diversity and focus have been displayed with many leaders, from Coleman Hawkins and Walt Dickerson to Carla Bley and Cecil Taylor. While he is a sublime timekeeper, Cyrille is better known as a time stretcher and space maker. His playing trademark is not force or swing, but indelible presence. "Mountain" is one of three tunes that was penned by Frisell, whose impressionistic Telecaster allows melody to fall from a smaller palette of chord voicings that begin in a major key, then fall slightly outside as Virelles and Street embellish around and through them. Cyrille frames the tune with singing cymbal work, low-tuned snares, and tom-toms that find a dance rhythm in the minimal melody. In an exchange with Virelles during the pianist's solo, Cyrille moves underneath with layered cymbals and hi-hat to draw the music from ether to foreground. While the drummer acts as a textural investigator during the first half of Steve Colson's "Leaving East of Java," he becomes both interlocutor and engine during its second half, subtly yet insistently pushing the band forward. Frisell's Monk-esque blues "Go Happy Lucky" offers the guitarist soloing along the melody with Street, while Virelles and Cyrille flow together behind the groove. "The News" is a conceptual piece Cyrille initially cut during the 1970s as a solo percussion work. Here he places a newspaper over the snare and toms, then plays them with brushes. Frisell adds fragmented chords, and restrained yet rumbling distortion, while Virelles layers droning synth under his piano as Street alternates between single notes and bowed chords. The pianist's "Incienso" emerges from a minimal melody that weds Brazilian folk music and post-bop as the band creates a spacious groove in the margins. "Dance of the Nuances," co-composed by pianist and bandleader, loosely threads together ambient and experimental music with electronics around a haunting minor-key melody. Cyrille introduces the closer "With You in Mind" by reciting a tender poem. Virelles and Street enter in duo, framing the elegant yet elliptical balladic structure and harmony economically. Frisell and Cyrille enter halfway through. The guitarist expands the melodic invention as Cyrille adds hushed snare and cymbals, gently carving out space inside the lyric. As a whole, The News is a master class in the less-is-more approach to drumming as well as ensemble play. Brilliant. © Thom Jurek /TiVo

Jazz - Released August 27, 2021 | ECM

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At 81, master drummer Andrew Cyrille shows no signs of slowing down. He signed to ECM for 2016's brilliant quartet offering Declaration of Musical Independence, which included guitarist Bill Frisell, pianist Richard Teitelbaum, and bassist Ben Street. For 2018's Lebroba, he delivered a trio outing with the guitarist and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith. Cyrille returns to the quartet format on The News, with Street, Frisell, and pianist David Virelles (replacing Teitelbaum, who died in 2020). The drummer, pianist, and bassist all worked together before on Virelles' masterful 2012 album Continuum. Cyrille's remarkable diversity and focus have been displayed with many leaders, from Coleman Hawkins and Walt Dickerson to Carla Bley and Cecil Taylor. While he is a sublime timekeeper, Cyrille is better known as a time stretcher and space maker. His playing trademark is not force or swing, but indelible presence. "Mountain" is one of three tunes that was penned by Frisell, whose impressionistic Telecaster allows melody to fall from a smaller palette of chord voicings that begin in a major key, then fall slightly outside as Virelles and Street embellish around and through them. Cyrille frames the tune with singing cymbal work, low-tuned snares, and tom-toms that find a dance rhythm in the minimal melody. In an exchange with Virelles during the pianist's solo, Cyrille moves underneath with layered cymbals and hi-hat to draw the music from ether to foreground. While the drummer acts as a textural investigator during the first half of Steve Colson's "Leaving East of Java," he becomes both interlocutor and engine during its second half, subtly yet insistently pushing the band forward. Frisell's Monk-esque blues "Go Happy Lucky" offers the guitarist soloing along the melody with Street, while Virelles and Cyrille flow together behind the groove. "The News" is a conceptual piece Cyrille initially cut during the 1970s as a solo percussion work. Here he places a newspaper over the snare and toms, then plays them with brushes. Frisell adds fragmented chords, and restrained yet rumbling distortion, while Virelles layers droning synth under his piano as Street alternates between single notes and bowed chords. The pianist's "Incienso" emerges from a minimal melody that weds Brazilian folk music and post-bop as the band creates a spacious groove in the margins. "Dance of the Nuances," co-composed by pianist and bandleader, loosely threads together ambient and experimental music with electronics around a haunting minor-key melody. Cyrille introduces the closer "With You in Mind" by reciting a tender poem. Virelles and Street enter in duo, framing the elegant yet elliptical balladic structure and harmony economically. Frisell and Cyrille enter halfway through. The guitarist expands the melodic invention as Cyrille adds hushed snare and cymbals, gently carving out space inside the lyric. As a whole, The News is a master class in the less-is-more approach to drumming as well as ensemble play. Brilliant. © Thom Jurek /TiVo

Jazz - Released August 27, 2021 | ECM

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Jazz - Released July 16, 2021 | ECM

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Jazz - Released July 16, 2021 | ECM

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Jazz - Released June 18, 2021 | ECM

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World - Released June 11, 2021 | ECM

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Jazz - Released April 23, 2021 | ECM

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Jazz - Released April 23, 2021 | ECM

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Jazz - Released April 9, 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 - Released April 9, 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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ECM in the magazine
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