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.
Despite the Swedish label for which this disc was recorded, and despite the Swedish origins of the group's leader, the Dowland Consort is English. It has a lot of competition in the realm of instrumental music by John Dowland, but less so for the seven linked pieces that open the program, based on the material used in the famous lute song Seven Teares. (This disc was originally recorded in 1985.) These seven pieces (and the pair of sevens would have had deep significance for Dowland's audience) are unique in Renaissance instrumental music.
Small Town presents guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan in a program of duets, the poetic chemistry of their playing captured live at New York s hallowed Village Vanguard. Frisell made his debut as a leader for ECM in 1983 with the similarly intimate In Line. The guitarist's rich history with the label also includes multiple recordings by his iconic cooperative trio with Paul Motian and Joe Lovano, culminating in Time and Time Again in 2007. Small Town begins with a tribute to Motian in the form of a searching, 11-minute interpretation of the late drummer s composition It Should've Happened a Long Time Ago, the duo's counterpoint yielding a hushed power. Morgan has appeared on several ECM albums of late, as bassist of choice for Tomasz Stanko, Jakob Bro, David Virelles, Giovanni Guidi and Masabumi Kikuchi. Small Town sees Frisell and Morgan pay homage to jazz elder Lee Konitz with his Subconscious Lee, and there are several country/blues-accented Frisell originals, including the hauntingly melodic title track. The duo caps the set with an inimitable treatment of John Barry s famous James Bond theme Goldfinger.