ECM Information is back! Perfectly, they by no means really went away for some of us — at the very least not for me — but now the famous label has made the decision to rejoin us listed here in the vinyl pool, and the concept could not have occur at a greater time.
If you are not common with the ECM universe but enjoy ambient-leaning, improvisationally oriented tunes that dances in and all around the realm of jazz, then you are in for a take care of. From the ECM internet site, we master, “The unbiased history label ECM – Version of Up to date Audio – was started by producer Manfred Eicher in 1969, and to day has issued more than 1,700 albums spanning lots of idioms. Pioneering recordings of artists this sort of as Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, Paul Bley, Gary Burton, Egberto Gismonti, Pat Metheny, Jack DeJohnette, and The Art Ensemble of Chicago proven ECM’s name as a label to be reckoned with.”
Again in the day, ECM was a label wherever you primarily did not have to know who the artist even was to be inclined to acquire a probability on shopping for the document. You just realized the music would be wonderful — or at least haunting — and that it would deliver an frequently ambient, purely natural-sounding, and richly introspective mood that normally matched the vibe of the address art.
When I heard that ECM was yet again releasing LPs, I questioned their PR workforce if I could check out some of the latest titles for AP. They graciously despatched me a handful of titles by a few artists I am acquainted with, some I was curious to discover about, and other individuals I’d hardly ever read of in advance of. Accurate to sort and in the ECM custom, these recordings are frequently exemplary, recorded in good studios throughout Europe and in New York.
Below are the essential vinyl stats, some of which I have verified immediately with the label reps. Although all these recordings have been in fact created digitally, and most likely in hello-res, all the pressings are outstanding, coming in darkish, thick, and quiet, usually 180g vinyl (probably) created at History Field in Germany. All five of the albums staying reviewed in this article are properly-centered — one thing that is especially crucial for audio this sort of as this, which typically characteristics extensive, drawn-out instrumental tones that can normally waver in and out of tune. The SRPs are usually $25.99 for 1LP ECM editions, and $39.99 for their 2LP editions.
Digital things to consider apart, I have rated most of these recordings at 9 as they typically do seem really great, warm, and inviting. But I have remaining some place open for a 10 score down the pike, as I do surprise how this songs could sound had it been built in the analog domain as a lot of of the early ECM titles were. Perhaps sometime, we’ll see a good reissue collection of some of these seminal early ECM releases — and we’ll gladly overview them too, if/when that time arrives.
The five new albums I explore right here retain in quite a few strategies to that classic ECM aesthetic, most likely to a fault. Whilst they are all extremely various, these albums could conveniently be put into a mixtape or playlist, if you weren’t that personal with the respective artists. There is an ECM seem, to be confident — but when you’re listening to these LPs far more closely, the special traits of every artist get even more unveiled.
With all that in intellect, the adhering to are a series of mini-assessments of each individual of these 5 albums — or Limited Cuts, as we’ve started to phone these variety of more compact evaluations under our broader Evaluation Explosion banner — and they also consist of any suitable qualifications from ECM’s official press products if warranted.
This is the very first time I’ve listened to Israeli trumpet player Avishai Cohen. From the formal ECM press supplies, we master about the producing of this 1LP: “Cohen had just just one rehearsal and a single ‘mini-concert’ with [pianist] Yonathan Avishai and [double bassist] Barak Mori prior to the session at Studios La Buissonne. The dialogue about what to engage in and what not to participate in developed out of that.” Appropriately, Naked Reality is anything of a delicate suite of shift-shaping actions.
The greatest complement I can provide below is that the tunes did what all superior recordings need to do — it created me curious to listen to additional audio by this artist. At periods, I read echoes of Jon Hassell, and at other moments, I felt ghosts of Kind of Blue-era Miles Davis dancing about the area. A pretty recording, without a doubt. Naked Fact was laid down at Studios La Buissonne in Pernes-les-Fontaines, France in September 2021. The album was engineered by Gerad De Haro, and mastered by Nicholas Baillard.
RETURN FROM THE STARS
New music: 9
This is a person of my favorites of the 1st batch of new ECM releases I’ve heard so far, perhaps mainly because it swings the most and has much more of a typical early/mid-’60s Miles Davis sort of vibe. (In that sense, it counters most from my previously imperfect theory that ECM artists normally audio alike!) Seemingly named right after a Stanislav Lem sci-fi novel, Return From the Stars is a 2LP set that delivers little by little evolving preparations of seem, placing Turner’s tenor sax and Jason Palmer’s trumpet centerstage.
There is a wonderful perception of floating freedom listed here, no question in element owing to the buoyant guidance of the rhythm portion of double bassist Joe Martin and drummer Jonathan Pinson. Return From the Stars is Turner’s 1st quartet album given that 2014’s Lathe of Heaven, and I’ll unquestionably be hunting for additional new music by this excellent artist. Recorded at Sear Audio Studio, New York and engineered by Chris Allan, blended at Studios La Buissonne in Pernes-les-Fontaines, France in September 2021 by Manfred Eicher and Gerad De Haro, and mastered by Nicholas Baillard.
TORD GUSTAVSEN TRIO
As with a lot of of these artists, I’d not read of pianist Tord Gustavsen in advance of this evaluate — and of class that indicates completely almost nothing, because plainly he is a known and beloved expertise to quite a few lovers all over the world. Coincidentally, he played in San Francisco soon right after I received this album for review, but I couldn’t make it out to the present, sadly. Below, on the 1LP Opening, the Tord Gustavsen Trio investigate considerably minimalist exploratory jazz-leaning tunes, in some cases recalling flavors like Brad Mehldau’s additional introspective times, and other occasions bringing quasi-new age sounds to brain.
I like the somewhat additional upfront generation model listed here, with good stereo separation on the drums (i.e., loads of remaining-right cymbal and tom-tom detailing), with bass lifeless-middle just behind the piano. Definitely, there is one thing in this article that is pulling me back in (again, a very good signal!), so I honestly will need to shell out additional time with Gustavsen’s moody, somber, and ultimately beautiful tunes, which is probably the very best compliment I can present right here. Recorded at Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano, Italy in October 2021, and engineered by Stefano Amerio.
It is not shocking just one of my favorites of this ECM batch is by guitarist extraordinaire John Scofield — and this self-titled 1LP is actually very interesting, as it appears unlike most of the recordings I have heard of his. In fact, provided that he is doing work with a “looper” product (which makes it possible for for serious-time sampling of himself to enjoy alongside with), the tunes reminds me at occasions of another modern-day-working day guitar genius, Bill Frisell (by way of Adrian Legg at times).
Below, Scofield tackles some specifications throughout unique genres of songs these kinds of as “My Previous Flame,” Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” Hank Williams’ “You Win Yet again,” and the conventional “Danny Boy,” but he also involves some nice originals as nicely. John Scofield is a very enjoyable listen with no real harsh edges, even when he starts off to get a little bit vivid in his solos. A great modern spin that sounds high-quality late at night time or early in the early morning. Recorded at Major Tale Studio, Katonah, New York, engineered by Tyler McDiarmid, and mastered by Christopher Stickel.
ENRICO RAVA / FRED HERSCH
THE Tune IS YOU
When I received this album from ECM for assessment, Enrico Rava’s name seemed acquainted. As it turns out, I do have a single album by this Trieste, Italy-based mostly trumpeter that I picked up out of curiosity a couple years in the past (1976’s The Plot, on ECM) at a employed record shop. Rava is also on a interesting Carla Bley-related undertaking I purchased just previous yr, 1971’s Escalator In excess of the Hill, on JCOA. In short, Rava has been affiliated with ECM for some 50 several years, and this new 1LP, The Music Is You, is his collaboration with Cincinnati-primarily based pianist Fred Hersch, a person who is new to the ECM relatives.
In accordance to formal push components, equally artists “share a deep passion for the custom and a profound feeling for melodic invention.” An unusual pairing of flugelhorn and piano, this recording was captured in an acoustically attractive studio. And however the pair go over lots of requirements below — Jerome Kern’s “The Song Is You,” Thelonious Monk’s “Misterioso” and “‘Round Midnight,” Antônio Carlos Jobim’s “Retrato em Branco e Preto,” and George Bassman’s “I’m Getting Sentimental Around You” — the combination is novel, so the songs appears curiously fresh. Rava and Hersch also play some originals. Recorded at Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano, Italy in November 2021, and engineered by Stefano Amerio.
(Mark Smotroff is an avid vinyl collector who has also worked in internet marketing communications for many years. He has reviewed music for AudiophileReview.com, among some others, and you can see more of his impressive C.V. at LinkedIn.)