Over these past 30 years of recording for ECM, I've had the wonderful opportunity to record with musicians from all over the globe; not just American jazz players. It's opened me, as well as the listeners, to a wealth of music and musicians that might not ever have been heard otherwise. Manfred's vision, dedication, and integrity should be applauded, and valued, and I look forward to 30 more years of working with him. God only knows what shape my hair will be in by then! ~ John Abercrombie
John Abercrombie Quartet: Up and Coming Starting the new year with, if not precisely a bang, a nevertheless unforgettable record whose strength lies in pristine lyricism, nuanced group interplay and writing that capitalizes on the entire quartet's appreciation of subtlety over gymnastics and refined lyricism over angularity, John Abercrombie's Up and Coming—ECM's first release of the year—is also founded strongly on the concept of relationship. The guitarist has been playing with Marc Copland since the pianist's days in the early '70s as a saxophonist before deserting it entirely for a career and discography that's as rich and rewarding as Abercrombie's…
In many ways, the last volume in the ECM Rarum series of artist-chosen retrospectives is also one of its finest. Jon Christensen is the label's drummer of drummers. He has played with virtually every major leader on the roster, and his fluid, enigmatic touch has graced ECM's most outstanding recordings. Christensen has the rapacious appetite of an Elvin Jones or Roy Haynes, but combines it with the wondrously light, dancer's touch of a Billy Higgins. The nine tracks here showcase Christensen's uncanny ability to adapt, color, and in some cases even drive the vision of a bandleader toward its flourish.
This 3-CD set with recordings from 1978 to 1980, issued in ECM s acclaimed Old & New Masters series, returns some historically-important material to the catalog, namely the albums Arcade, Abercrombie Quartet and M. The quartet with Richie Beirach, George Mraz and Peter Donald John Abercrombie s first touring band as a leader was the group in which the guitarist defined some priorities, moving away from a jazz-rock period into a more spacious, impressionistic and original music. Abercrombie and pianist Beirach had a strong musical rapport as improvisers and wrote almost all of the band s book between them. George Mraz and Peter Donald provided imaginative support. For this edition the recordings - made in Oslo and Ludwigsburg and produced by Manfred Eicher were remastered from original analog sources.
The Chicago-born master drummer hopes that his selection “will bring peace, warmth and joy to the listener”. The warm and joyful duo recording with Keith Jarrett that brought both DeJohnette and Jarrett to ECM in 1971 is reprised here - as are bright moments with Gateway, Mick Goodrick and a succession of Jack’s own bands – New Directions, Special Edition and Oneness, with soloists including Lester Bowie, David Murray and John Abercrombie.
The Rarum series on the ECM label is unique in that it issues "best-of" compilations picked by the artists themselves. While this can be a double-edged sword (oftentimes what an artist and his or her own fans enjoy are two different things), in this case it turns out to be a blessing. Metheny is obviously a fine judge of his own work, both from artistic and popular points of view. The selections are accompanied by an album-by-album overview by Metheny in the liner notes.
Jan Garbarek's music can be summed up in one simple word: meditation. Sure, the term is loaded with overtones, both good and bad. But do not confuse meditation with mindlessness: they are polar opposites. Garbarek's thirty years with ECM (as a leader and collaborator) have yielded hundreds of melodies which lead to an infinitely light state of inner peace. It's hard to imagine a more positive statement for a saxophone player who long ago decided to forsake flash-and-bang for "simpler" music with understated spiritual energy. And this two-disc set does Garbarek justice. Each disc runs in chronological order from about 1975 through 1995.
Bill Frisell has made 14 sideman appearances on ECM but only three records as a leader on the label. His Rarum collection spans the 1980s, highlighting his earlier years. Paul Motian figures prominently in this story, as leader, composer, and sideman; "Mandeville," the leadoff track, is from 1981's Psalm, featuring Motian and Frisell with Joe Lovano, Billy Drewes, and Ed Schuller. Two more Motian tracks follow, then Jan Garbarek's "Singsong," which finds Frisell wailing. Tracks five through 11 feature Frisell as leader and composer: First there's the title cut from his 1982 debut, In Line, a multi-tracked acoustic piece, then three selections from Rambler and three more from Lookout for Hope.