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Jazz - To be released October 30, 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - To be released October 30, 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - To be released October 16, 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - To be released October 16, 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Released September 25, 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Released September 25, 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Released September 18, 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Released September 18, 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Released September 18, 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Released September 18, 2020 | ECM

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French-Algerian bassist Michel Benita may not be well known to most Anglophile jazz fans, but his bona fides are impeccable. He served as the original bassist in France's Orchestre National de Jazz, worked with artists such as Marc Ducret, Peter Erskine, and Erik Truffaz, and was a member of Andy Sheppard's group on Trio Libero. He has led the Ethics quartet since 2010; they appeared on his 2015 ECM leader debut River Silver. Looking at Sounds features Benita leading a modified quartet with flugelhornist Matthieu Michel and drummer/electronicist Philippe Garcia from Ethics. Joining them is Belgian Fender Rhodes pianist and electronic experimentalist Jozef Dumoulin, himself a bandleader. In addition to bass, Benita employs a laptop. His methodology in using electronics is unobtrusive, unlike many of his peers. His electronics add space, dimension, subtle textures, and nothing else. Benita composed or co-composed all but one of the 11 selections on the date. His flugelhorn is usually employed as the lead voice here, a carrier of melody and harmony and the hub for the other players to interact and improvise around. Opener "Dervish Diva" finds him traveling down an Eastern modal path while Garcia uses his cymbals and hand percussion in a hypnotic yet syncopated beat. Benita accents the tempo flow while finding his own mysterious path along Michel's lines, as Dumoulin emulates a guitarist's sound and role on the Rhodes. Garcia integrates real-time sampling into his percussive work creating hushed loops. Throughout, Dumoulin processes his Rhodes through many effects boxes and pedals, using various types of reverb to create a luminous quality in his sound. The title track provides evidence even as he emulates the spirit of Joe Zawinul from the first two Weather Report albums. Benita finds a minor-key lyric melody and touches the intersecting point between Benita's bass pulses and the pianist's moody chord progressions. The group interplay gets darker; it moves further afield and is more complexly integrated as melodic improvisation meets sonic extrapolation. "Barroco" is a gorgeous illustration of post-bop lyricism and gentle abstraction, with Benita's under-melody illustrated alongside Benita's primary melody in an intimate exchange. There is a seamless approach to the development of a collective musical language as displayed on "Body Language." Its textures and sounds wrap around one another; they're analogous to Pat Metheny's playing on Secret Story, and Metheny's playing with Jon Hassell on Fourth World, Vol. 2: Dream Theory in Malaya. "Islander" offers a fully formed folk melody introduced by Benita and then elegantly embellished by Dumoulin's rhythmic, EFX-laden chords and Garcia's graceful snare and hi-hat fills. Benita finds the harmonic center and offers an exploratory hypnotic vamp that emerges from and speaks to the tune's lyric core yet hovers just outside it. Despite its gentility and restraint, the music on Looking at Sounds is rich in color, nuance, and mystery. This is group interaction at its most intimate, focused, and perhaps even profound; it results in a poetic, obsessively listenable, and truly unforgettable outing. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released September 11, 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Released September 11, 2020 | ECM

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1996's Skywards marked the last time Norwegian electric guitarist Terje Rypdal cut a studio album for ECM. Since then, he's issued recordings that range from classically focused works (Lux Aeterna, Double Concerto: 5th Symphony) and a cinematic concept offering (Crime Scene) to jazz rock (Vossabrygg) and integrations of them all (Melodic Warrior), exclusively in live settings. His accompanists on this date include old friends Ståle Storløkken on keyboards, Pål Thowsen on drums, and young electric bassist Endre Hareide Hallre. Conspiracy is a striking portrait of Rypdal's three musical personas: guitarist, composer, and improviser. His trademark Stratocaster and its skyward reach are everywhere amid his love of dynamically controlled environments. Unlike his more rock-oriented outings, Rypdal continues to employ the electric guitar as lead instrument in exploratory compositions that rely heavily on sonic resonance and architecture. He defies listeners to find the seam between composition and improvisation. Opener "As If the Ghost … Was Me?" commences with ticking ride cymbals, muted, wafting keys, tympani, and Rypdal's rounded tones in a melodic frame. After Hallre's nebulous entry crisscrossing the fretless influences of Jaco Pastorius and Mark Egan, Storløkken's organ paints the backdrop as Thowsen picks up the tempo and intensity. Rypdal's sharp, edgy, yet warm tone bleeds across them all with a few notes and sustained tones. "What Was I Thinking" is an abstract rubato ballad. Rypdal examines the outer reaches of its melody in economic terms while still playing with a simmering passion as the ensemble traces sound itself around him, framing his lyricism in warmth and poignancy. The title track commences as a slow, processional rocker with middle-register harmonic lines played on guitar in a repetitive pattern. A syncopated snare and a floor tom un-fetter Rypdal's tone amid throbbing bass and squalling organ. The band gets mean, traversing a path that bridges Miles Davis' Tribute to Jack Johnson and Emergency by Tony Williams Lifetime with Larry Young. Rypdal guides it with a razored tone, distorted vamps, and elegant lyricism. "By His Lonesome" is an intriguing ballad with Hallre as principal soloist with gorgeous impressionistic drumming. Most of the eight-minute "Baby Beautiful" is delivered in gloriously abstract ambience with silvery guitar, tinkling bells, hovering keys, and restrained bass before erupting volcanically behind Thowsen's freewheeling drums while Rypdal asserts a tender, aggressive, blues-drenched melody. Storløkken's sensitive organ offers a knotty, percussive, solo amid driving, syncopated drums and a humming bassline. It is among the set's most satisfying selections. The two-minute closer "Dawn" is a coda offered by Storløkken's low, moaning pipe organ that sounds like a lonely foghorn in a midnight sea, adorned only by occasional cymbal washes. As a whole, Conspiracy is a compelling set of musical environments brought forth by Rypdal's gifts for lyricism and improvisation as his band reflect textural imagination and consummate musicality. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 21, 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Released June 26, 2020 | ECM

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Marcin Wasilewski has been a resident at ECM for sixteen years. And for 25 years, the Munich label has turned the Polish pianist and his trio of fellow countrymen (Slawomir Kurkiewicz on double bass and Michał Miśkiewicza on drums) into an intimate and pure workshop. To celebrate this anniversary, the band invited tenor saxophone giant Joe Lovano to their cosy fiesta. The American's lyricism, which is never raucous, is perfectly lined up in the piano inherited from Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett from the Polishman who always expresses himself economically. But it’s not only wisdom and recollection that we find here. Wasilewski knows how to be voluble and even unpredictable, like on the determined Cadenza, and even mysterious like his improvisations on Vashkar, the only cover on the record by Carla Bley. © Max Dembo/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released June 26, 2020 | ECM

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The first meeting between Polish pianist Marcin Wasilewski and saxophonist Joe Lovano, 2020's Arctic Riff is a richly textured and atmospheric recording. Joining them are Wasilewski's longtime associates bassist Sławomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michał Miśkiewicz. Together since the early '90s, Wasilewski's trio gained widespread acclaim in Europe as members of the late trumpeter Tomasz Stanko's ensemble before embarking on their own. Arctic Riff is Wasilewski's sixth solo outing for ECM, following 2014's Spark of Life with saxophonist Joakim Milder and 2018's Live. The album also arrives on the heels of Lovano's own ambient and exploratory 2019 ECM album Trio Tapestry. Both Wasilewski and Lovano bring decades of experience to their collaboration, drawing upon a wealth of straight-ahead post-bop and avant-garde-leaning projects. Arctic Riff benefits from both ends of the spectrum with tracks that move from the conventional to the completely abstract. The opening, "Glimmer of Hope," is a particularly accessible piece, evoking the languid and dusky atmosphere of '70s neo-noir films like Body Heat and Chinatown. Similarly, "L'amour Fou" is a brisk, French-sounding hard bop number that brings to mind Dexter Gordon's later-career output. More outre are cuts like "Stray Cat Walk," with its slinky free-jazz interplay between Lovano and Wasilewski. Also intriguing is the impressionistic "Arco," which finds bassist Kurkiewicz laying down a moody, bowed improvisation as the rest of the band join in with an eerie soundscape of woody bird tones, percussive gongs, and sparkling, off-kilter harmonies. Elsewhere, they stumble into "A Glimpse," with Lovano and Wasilewski dancing against the rhythm section like bugs flitting against a porch light. They also offer two artfully shaded variations of Carla Bley's "Vashkar," the latter of which finds Kurkiewicz laying down heavy bass chord waves for Lovano and Wasilewski to surf over. They return to languid territory on "Old Hat," a slow, elegant ballad that sparkles with the saxophonist's swooning tones and the pianist's sun-dappled chords. Arctic Riff is an absolutely transfixing collaboration that makes the most of Lovano and Wasilewski's deeply empathetic skills. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 12, 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 - Released June 12, 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 - Released May 29, 2020 | ECM

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If Benjamin Moussay’s name ever appeared on any ECM album covers it was always as sideman for Louis Sclavis, on his albums Sources, Silk and Salt on Melodies and Characters on a Wall. But with Promontoire, the 47-year-old has finally released an album for Manfred Eicher’s label that is entirely original solo material. Based in Munich, ECM Records already boasts an impressive number of major solo piano works, including the best-seller Köln Concert by Keith Jarrett, and Promontoire is now one of them. Moussay is a rather unassuming musician on the contemporary jazz scene, but those in the business have always recognised the clarity and strength of his playing. This includes Martial Solal, who said “He plays fair. Not too much, not too little”, but also an enormous list of musicians who have worked with him, including Sclavis, Archie Shepp, Dave Liebmann, Jean François Jenny Clark, Marc Ducret, Daniel Humair, Steve Swallow, Vincent Courtois, Michel Portal, Vincent Peirani, Youn Sun Nah, Airelle Besson and a few dozen others. He often plays in a trio (mainly with Eric Echampard and Arnault Cuisinier) but the solo piano pieces he performs here are timeless, characterised by simplicity, profound lyricism and improvisations with a strong narrative. Sensuality of the string’s vibration illuminating silence. Dance in its essence, solitary, unfolds with the flow of the internal rhythm. Elasticity of time, freedom of action, space, fleeting pleasure…Writing, infinitely reshuffling pretexts to the discretion of the instant. (…) Playing solo piano, I know the starting point and the destination. Mystery lies in the surprises of the journey”. This vision is a theme that flows throughout the twelve tracks on this album, which reveals a little more of itself with every listen. You can hear influences from all of his favourite musicians, from Thelonious Monk and Claudio Arrau to Lennie Tristano and Paul Bley, appearing and then disappearing before the melody takes over once again. Moussay always generates strong imagery with his melodies as he also composes music for film and theatre, but his work never sounds like music that has been churned out quickly without much thought or meaning behind it. Promontoire is particularly impressive during the more simplistic sequences (Villefranque and Monte Perdido), where Benjamin Moussay seems to say it all in just a few notes. This album proves that Less is more, yet again… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released May 29, 2020 | ECM

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Jazz - Released May 29, 2020 | ECM

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If Benjamin Moussay’s name ever appeared on any ECM album covers it was always as sideman for Louis Sclavis, on his albums Sources, Silk and Salt on Melodies and Characters on a Wall. But with Promontoire, the 47-year-old has finally released an album for Manfred Eicher’s label that is entirely original solo material. Based in Munich, ECM Records already boasts an impressive number of major solo piano works, including the best-seller Köln Concert by Keith Jarrett, and Promontoire is now one of them. Moussay is a rather unassuming musician on the contemporary jazz scene, but those in the business have always recognised the clarity and strength of his playing. This includes Martial Solal, who said “He plays fair. Not too much, not too little”, but also an enormous list of musicians who have worked with him, including Sclavis, Archie Shepp, Dave Liebmann, Jean François Jenny Clark, Marc Ducret, Daniel Humair, Steve Swallow, Vincent Courtois, Michel Portal, Vincent Peirani, Youn Sun Nah, Airelle Besson and a few dozen others. He often plays in a trio (mainly with Eric Echampard and Arnault Cuisinier) but the solo piano pieces he performs here are timeless, characterised by simplicity, profound lyricism and improvisations with a strong narrative. Sensuality of the string’s vibration illuminating silence. Dance in its essence, solitary, unfolds with the flow of the internal rhythm. Elasticity of time, freedom of action, space, fleeting pleasure…Writing, infinitely reshuffling pretexts to the discretion of the instant. (…) Playing solo piano, I know the starting point and the destination. Mystery lies in the surprises of the journey”. This vision is a theme that flows throughout the twelve tracks on this album, which reveals a little more of itself with every listen. You can hear influences from all of his favourite musicians, from Thelonious Monk and Claudio Arrau to Lennie Tristano and Paul Bley, appearing and then disappearing before the melody takes over once again. Moussay always generates strong imagery with his melodies as he also composes music for film and theatre, but his work never sounds like music that has been churned out quickly without much thought or meaning behind it. Promontoire is particularly impressive during the more simplistic sequences (Villefranque and Monte Perdido), where Benjamin Moussay seems to say it all in just a few notes. This album proves that Less is more, yet again… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

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