On this 2001 album, Norwegian pianist/composer/producer Bugge Wesseltoft further refines his concept of 'the new conception of jazz'. Having started out playing stereotypically Nordic ECM-style jazz, Bugge (pronounced 'Boogie') formed the jazzland label and brought out several records in a new, experimental jazz style that fused elements of electronic music with traditional jazz instrumentation to excellent effect.
First ECM solo album from the Norwegian violinist who has gained many friends for his work with the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble. Økland’s solo music is strongly inspired by the rich Norwegian fiddle tradition and its freedom, variation and individuality, yet what he plays is not purely ‘folk music’ rather a reinvention of folk forms, with free improvisation and contemporary composition also powerful influences. The ‘personality’ of the instruments themselves is also an inspiration: on “Monograph” Økland makes the most of the ‘drone’ qualities of the viola d’amore and the Hardanger fiddle (he plays both old and modern models) as well as an old violin from 1700, in a recital of subtle and melodic invention.
Wolfgang Muthspiel – whom The New Yorker has called “a shining light” among today’s jazz guitarists – made his ECM leader debut in 2014 with the trio disc Driftwood, featuring him alongside two longtime colleagues, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Brian Blade. For his follow-up – Rising Grace – the Austrian guitarist has convened a very special quintet, adding jazz luminary Brad Mehldau on piano and the outstanding young trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire to the subtly virtuosic Grenadier/Blade rhythm section.
German-born composer/trumpeter Michael Mantler and his then-wife Carla Bley were instrumental in developing within jazz the idea of self-sufficiency and independence from established record companies. Their creation of the Jazz Composer's Orchestra, with recordings released on their own label, was the culmination of this endeavor, and the first recording was one of the masterpieces of creative music in the '60s. Mantler had come from the European avant-classical tradition and sought to provide an orchestral framework supporting some of the most advanced musicians in avant-garde jazz – and he succeeded magnificently.
Pianist Giovanni Guidi and trombonist Gianluca Petrella, key figures in what some are hailing as a “golden age” of Italian jazz, found their strong improvisational rapport inside Enrico Rava’s band (see for instance the 2010 ECM album Tribe) and, keen to play more, formed a duo, giving many concerts in which they are intermittently joined by guests. For this studio recording, producer Manfred Eicher brought the duo together with US drummer Gerald Cleaver and French clarinetist Louis Sclavis, for an outgoing set of music which includes lyrical free improvising and tunes composed by Giovanni and Gianluca.
For the first time under the direction of a foreigner, Paolo Damiani, the French orchestra explores themes related to the Mediterranean area. With the help of special guests Anouar Brahem and Gianluigi Trovesi, the Italian musical director offers musical landscapes that encompass the various aspects of the region. The album opens with a suite penned by Trovesi, which digs deep into the Italian musical tradition, but also incorporates more recent influences from the Middle East and Africa. With the brass instruments in the forefront, it is definitely the most colorful and animated segment of the disc.
The newest addition to ECM’s popular Old and New Masters Series is a box set reprising the four albums made by Peter Erskine’s American-British-Swedish trio with John Taylor and Palle Danielsson between 1992 and 1997: You Never Know, As It Is, Time Being and Juni. If its core concept – a piano led by a drummer – was unorthodox, the group was nonetheless influential, and the recordings provide an excellent environment for appreciating the distinctive writing and playing of John Taylor.
Andando el Tiempo features new music of wide emotional compass by Carla Bley, and underlines her originality and resourcefulness as a jazz composer. “Saints Alive!” sets up animated conversations between the participants with striking statements from Steve Swallow’s bass guitar and Andy Sheppard’s soprano sax. The stately “Naked Bridges/Diving Brides” draws inspiration from Mendelssohn and the poetry of Paul Haines. And the powerful three part title composition – which addresses the trials and tribulations of recovery from addiction - moves through sorrow to hopefulness and joy.
Excellent addition to any jazz music collection
Pat Metheny is one of the world's best-selling jazz musicians. He must be the one jazz guitarist whose albums are likely to appeal to lovers of symphonic prog - particularly his epics IMAGINARY DAY and THE WAY UP.
Considering the embryonic Pat Metheny Group recorded WATERCOLORS as long ago as 1977, it's remarkable that most of the characteristics of Pat's definitive style are already in place.