Nov 24, 2011
Forty-two years ago today, a little known record label called ECM (short for “Encounters in Contemporary Music”) booked time at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg to record what would become its first release, a trio album by Mal Waldron. entitled Free at Last. Perhaps only the label's founder Manfred Eicher, could have imagined that in 2011, ECM would still be going strong, and be synonymous with subtle, haunting, memorable music. Their identity rivals more traditional jazz labels like Blue Note and Impulse, and have been true to their motto: “The Most Beautiful Sound Next to Silence”
My first contact with an ECM record was the same as many others, through Keith Jarrett’s solo improvised masterpiece The Koln Concert in my Dad's record collection. Highly impressionistic and yet melodic and swinging, that album went on the sell four million copies, one of the best selling jazz albums of all time. Since then, ECM has always presented music of the highest quality, if not some of jazz’s most ethereal and hard-to-label sounds. Their roster of talent has always shifted over time, but has included masters like Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Pat Matheny, Keith Jarrett, and Jack DeJohnette.
To celebrate the anniversary, Podcast 245 presents just a smattering of the wonderful recordings that I have come to know and love from ECM. This is a highly personal list, rather than a “best of” or historical retrospective. As an extra, the final two tracks are from two fascinating ECM releases from this year, the Chick Corea/Stefano Bollani duo piano collaboration Orvieto, and the reimagined, remixed CD from Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer, as they use their DJ skills to create new sonic results from the ECM vaults. Click here to listen to:
Chick Corea – “Crystal Silence” from Return to Forever.
Gary Burton Quintet with Eberhard Weber – “Tunnel of Love“ from Ring.
Ralph Towner / Gary Burton – “Drifting Petals” from Matchbook.
Pat Metheny – “Midwestern Night’s Dream” from Bright Size Life.
Kenny Wheeler – “In the Afternoon“from Deer Wan.
Keith Jarrett – “Country” from My Song.
Jan Garbarek · Ustad Fateh Ali Khan – “Saga” from Ragas and Sagas.
Jack DeJohnette - ”Emanations” from Dancing with Nature Spirits.
Charles Lloyd, John Abercrombie, Dave Holland, Billy Higgins – “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing” from Voices in the Night.
Steve Kuhn Trio with Joe Lovano – “Trance” from Mostly Coltrane
Chick Corea / Stefano Bollani – “A Valsa da Paula” from Orvieto.
Ricardo Villalobos / Max Loderbauer – “Retimeless“ from Re: ECM. (Remixed fromJohn Abercrombie – "Timeless").