The combination of spoken words and musical improvisations may bring up associations with the Beat poets and some of their free jazz experiments, but that is far from the effect Paul Griffiths and Frances-Marie Uitti achieve in There Is Still Time, their 2004 release in ECM's New Series. These scenes for speaking voice and cello have a bleak existential quality that moves them into a different direction and are perhaps more like the spare monologs of Samuel Beckett than anything else. Griffiths' haltingly paced recitations of his austere, introspective texts is by turns fragile, morose, excited, and agonized – not exactly a theatrical performance, but certainly dramatic in its intensity and haunting in its suggestiveness.
Thanks in no small part to ECM founder Manfred Eicher's patience and indulgence, here we have another of Keith Jarrett's myriad of "special projects" – two CDs of music recorded on a clavichord. This carries Jarrett's anti-electric crusade to a real extreme, the clavichord being a keyboard from J.S. Bach's day, obsolete for over 200 years. The instrument produces a gentle pinging sound like a harpsichord crossed with a zither (the amplified Hohner Clavinet is the closest sound in our time), and Jarrett occasionally tries to stretch the instrument's limited possibilities, hammering percussively on the close-miked strings. Yet for the most part, Jarrett reins in his world-class technique in order to make unpretentiously minimal music on this ancient keyboard. Some of it sounds like folk music, some like new age contemplation, there are convincing neo-baroque musings, and a few of these untitled though numbered selections kick into a higher gear. Sometimes this music is charming; a lot of the time, it gets wearisome. But hey, they also laughed when Keith started putting out massive sets of solo piano…
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.
The six-CD box set Keith Jarrett at the Blue Note fully documents three nights (six complete sets from June 3-5, 1994) by his trio with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Never mind that this same group has already had ten separate releases since 1983; this box is still well worth getting. The repertoire emphasizes (but is not exclusively) standards, with such songs as "In Your Own Sweet Way," "Now's the Time," "Oleo," "Days of Wine and Roses," and "My Romance" given colorful and at times surprising explorations.
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.
Gefion, named for the Norse goddess associated with ploughing, prophecy and premonition, is the ECM leader debut of Danish guitarist Jakob Bro. Bro first recorded for ECM with Paul Motian on Garden of Eden in 2004, followed by Tomasz Stanko’s Dark Eyes album of 2009. The guitarist’s feeling for melody, sound-colour and atmosphere served him well in those contexts, as it does here in the realization of his own free floating ballads and drifting, spacious-yet-focused pieces.
If there is an actual sonic intersection between the natural world and music, then Navidad de los Andes, the collaborative recording between master bandoneonist and composer Dino Saluzzi, his younger brother, saxophonist Felix Saluzzi, and German cellist Anja Lechner has perhaps found it. The brothers have been playing music together for over 60 years; Lechner has been working with the elder Saluzzi since Kultrum in the mid-'90s. Felix and Lechner were both featured soloists on Saluzzi's 2009 orchestral recording El Encuentro.
Songs for Quintet, Kenny Wheeler’s final recording, features compositions of relatively recent vintage, plus a fresh approach to “Old Time” – which the Azimuth trio used to play – and “Nonetheless”, a piece introduced on Angel Song. The album was recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios with four of Kenny’s favourite players. Stan Sulzmann, John Parricelli, Chris Laurence and Martin France work together marvellously as an interactive unit, solo persuasively, and provide support for the tender and lyrical flugelhorn of the bandleader.
Imaginary Cities is the recording premiere of saxophonist Chris Potter’s new Underground Orchestra. At the core of this larger ensemble is the personnel of his long-established Underground quartet – with Adam Rogers, Craig Taborn and Nate Smith – now joined by two bassists, a string quartet, and Potter’s old comrade from Dave Holland Quintet days, vibes and marimba man Steve Nelson. The title composition is a suite, panoramic in its reach, with movements subtitled “Compassion”, “Dualities”, “Disintegration” and “Rebuilding”.
Argentinean Dino Saluzzi manages to be a great bandeonist and sound different from great Astor Piazzolla. His music is much closer to new age than to "nuevo tango" invented by Piazzolla and Co, his approach is more "down-to-earth" and "minimalistic" yet still bears an influence on Argentinean music . That's what makes him interesting for me and I love this album in particular because of "chamber sound" if you know what I mean. Like you seat in a big dark room next to a fireplace and the guys are playing for you.