Piggybacking on 1992’s Invisible Storm, ECM maverick Edward Vesala returned with his organic collective, Sound & Fury, as our guide for Nordic Gallery. Vesala draws a thinner circle around his ensemble this time around, weaving inside it a dreamcatcher for communal freedom, as exemplified in the 11-minute “Bird In The High Room,” a menagerie of cymbals, muted horns, drums, and birdsong.
Splitting his time between the electric and acoustic pianos and a bit of organ, Jarrett teams up with drummer/percussionist Jack DeJohnette in a series of experimental duets, his only electric session for ECM. The all-acoustic title number ranges all over the lot, from tootling on a bamboo (?) flute to the energizing barrelhouse gospel riffs that would bloom in the solo concerts.
Keith Jarrett's numerous volumes of improvised solo piano recordings are all treasure troves of spontaneous music making. Documented since the 1970s, they reveal the opening of his music as it readily embraces classical and sacred music influences, filters out what is unnecessary in his technique, and encounters the depth and breadth of the jazz tradition and his own unique abilities as a composer. The four discs in A Multitude of Angels were recorded in as many Italian cities during the last week of October 1996 – some 20 months after the concert captured on La Scala.
Elegy is the ECM leader debut by vocalist and composer Theo Bleckmann. A prolific recording artist, his association with the label dates back to Meredith Monk's 2002 date Mercy and its follow-up, Impermanence, in 2008 (Bleckmann was a member of her ensemble for 15 years). His voice was also a focal point of Julia Hulsmann's quartet on 2015's Clear Midnight: Kurt Weill & America. For a singer who draws attention to himself almost as much for what he doesn't do as what he does, Elegy is a quiet yet startling offering.
From the very first cut here, "The Lover of Beirut", Brahem's fascinating blend of traditional Eastern-flavored tonalities and his very jazz-like sense of free rhythms mix, in an astonishingly instinctual and intimate way, with Gesing's moody clarinet, their melodic lines at times doubling before breaking free to bend and swerve off into a melodic maze before slowly returning to their intricate Byzantine dance.
On its third ECM album Vallon again leads the group not with virtuosic solo display but by patient outlining of melody and establishing of frameworks in which layered group improvising can take place. With this group, gentle but insistent rhythms can trigger seismic musical events. Although Vallon (recently nominated for the Swiss Music Prize) is the author of nine of the pieces here, the band members share equal responsibilities for the music's unfolding. The gravitational pull of Patrice Moret's bass and the intense detail supplied by Julian Sartorius's drums and cymbals are crucial to the success of Vallon's artistic concept and the range of emotions the music can convey.
Though Heavy Heart was supposedly the "mellow, sensual" album Carla Bley had in mind, Night-Glo is more like it – a relaxed, easygoing, easy-listening series of compositions that nearly spills over into fuzak. Writing for a basic sextet with an added five-man horn section, most effectively when one color melts gently into another, Bley permits the lazy pina-colada mood to amble undisturbed from track to track.
The trio with Spanish bassist Antonio Miguel and Canadian drummer Owen Howard has been an “invariant” in the life of Berlin-based pianist Benedikt Jahnel, “a constant in a transformational period” as he puts it, and new album The Invariant is issued as the players reach their tenth anniversary as a working unit.