A document of a 2012 Japanese solo recital – not only the last in his homeland but the last anywhere – by idiosyncratic improviser Masabumi Kikuchi (1939-2015). One of the uncategorisable greats, Kikuchi occupied his own musical universe and in his final years was quietly and systematically severing his ties to jazz, drifting instead towards what he called ‘floating sound and harmonies’, introspective and poetic improvisations. Song forms still sometimes materialized. Kikuchi revisits “Little Abi”, a ballad for his daughter, which the pianist once recorded with Elvin Jones. And there is a surprising and very touching version of the wistfully yearning theme from the 1959 Brazilian film Black Orpheus.
The group colloquially known as “the Standards trio” has made many outstanding recordings, and After The Fall must rank with the very best of them. “I was amazed to hear how well the music worked,” writes Keith Jarrett in his liner note. “For me, it’s not only a historical document, but a truly great concert.” This performance in Newark, New Jersey in November 1998 marked Jarrett’s return to the concert stage after a two year hiatus. Joined by improvising partners Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, he glides and soars through classics of the Great American Songbook including “The Masquerade Is Over”, “Autumn Leaves”, “When I Fall In Love” and “I’ll See You Again”.
This gargantuan package – a ten-LP set now compressed into a chunky six-CD box – once was derided as the ultimate ego trip, probably by many who didn't take the time to hear it all. You have to go back to Art Tatum's solo records for Norman Granz in the '50s to find another large single outpouring of solo jazz piano like this, all of it improvised on the wing before five Japanese audiences in Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Tokyo, and Sapporo. Yet the miracle is how consistently good much of this giant box is.
Excellent addition to any jazz-fusion music collection
I'm afraid I cannot discuss this album in terms of "meribolant soul melodies" or such, but if you're looking for a peaceful and relaxed solo album from one of the top jazz guitarists, CHARACTERS might be just right for you.
Pianist Vijay Iyer's fifth album for ECM, 2017's fiery sextet date Far from Over, follows his superb 2016 collaboration with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke. Where that album found Iyer and Smith engaged in a deeply interconnected series of often abstract chamber improvisations, here we find him exploding outward, but with no less interconnectedness between him and his bandmates.
György Kurtág Jr., son of the great Hungarian composer, has long been developing his own electronic music. In this unusual project, fellow composer László Hortobágyi integrates Kurtág themes into his own arrangements in a recording that celebrates a long friendship. “This is,” say the group members, “a Hortobágyi album about Kurtág,” as well as “an invitation to discover a new sphere of music”. Drifting ambient washes of synthesized sound, near-subliminal bass, collages of subtle colours and sudden eruptions are but part of the story. An intriguing addition to ECM’s growing catalogue of electronica for discerning listeners.
In March 2005 Eleni Karaindrou presented what she called “a scenic cantata” at the Megaron in Athens, a tour through her music for film and theatre, with musical themes newly combined and contrasted. A live audio recording, “Elegy of the Uprooting”, was issued in 2006: “The two-CD set interweaves excerpts of her music from 13 different scores spanning more than two decades, although the irresistible congruence of the music is such that newcomers to Karaindrou’s oeuvre would be forgiven for thinking this is newly composed. The music seduces by its profound beauty, tenderness and candour.”. – International Record Review. Here is the video and audio document of the event.
Encore is a companion volume to Résumé the widely-praised solo album issued in 2011. Eberhard Weber returns once more to the many live recordings of his tenure with the Jan Garbarek Group, isolating his bass solos and reworking them into new pieces with the addition of his own keyboard parts. “I became what you might call a composer of New Music,” says Weber, “with the proviso that I make use of old things.”This season’s special guest is veteran Dutch flugelhorn player Ack van Rooyen.
This recording, from 1985, presents bandoneon master Dino Saluzzi in a small-group setting, accompanied by some of the finest musicians in the ECM roster: Palle Mikkelborg (trumpet and flugelhorn), Charlie Haden (bass) and Pierre Favre (percussion). As usual with ECM releases, the recording is crystalline - their audio standards have always set the highest standards for sound reproduction, clear and pristine. It puts the listener right into the room with the players.