Oct 30, 2019
On November 1 and 2, the jazz world will celebrate 50 years of the monumentally influential ECM Records, rightfully called “one of the defining sound-worlds of the past half-century of recorded music” by the New Yorker.
Founded by producer Manfred Eicher in Munich in 1969 and still under his artistic leadership, ECM Records has released some of the definitive jazz recordings of the past half century, and continues to set new directions in music and sound.
The show, to be held at the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, boasts an outstanding lineup of performers with ties to the label, including Meredith Monk, Joe Lovano, Craig Taborn, Vijay Iyer, Avishai Cohen, Ravi Coltrane, Bill Frisell, Mark Turner, Larry Grenadier, Wadada Leo Smith, Anja Lechner, Ethan Iverson, Enrico Rava, Egberto Gismonti, Matthew Garrison, and Jack DeJohnette - ECM’s most recorded artist to date. This 50-year anniversary celebration will be a proper salute to a record label that, with an unwavering commitment to quality, has contributed so uniquely and extensively to contemporary music.
Ethan Iverson will be performing each night, as part of a duo with Mark Turner. After albums with Billy Hart and Turner on ECM, Iverson recently released his first recording as a leader on the label, entitled Common Practice. Recorded live at the Village Vanguard, the album is mostly standards performed by an outstanding quartet – Iverson on piano, Ben Street on bass, Eric McPherson on drums and Tom Harrell on trumpet. A few Iverson originals, both blues, fill out a recording that revives old chestnuts like “The Man I Love” and “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” with intriguing harmonies and puts Harrell’s warm sound front and center.
Iverson, who separated from his influential group The Bad Plus in 2017, is one of the most articulate members of the jazz community. His playing, recently as a member of the Billy Hart Quartet with Turner and Street, and a trio with Al Foster and Ron Carter, is always expressive and energetic without clichés with which lesser pianists might resort. His essays are illuminating and well-written (check out his Do the Math if you have not already), and show his true love of jazz.
My conversation with Ethan begins with his take on the ECM sound and history, and moves through topics from his recent CD to his coming performances with the Mark Morris Dance Group in the Beatles-inspired Pepperland to his next plans for recording. Musical selections – all from ECM recordings - include “Yesterday’s Bouquet” from Iverson and Turner’s Temporary Kings CD and “Sentimental Journey” and “Philadelphia Creamer” from Common Practice.