Enjoy three A-list players teaming up to celebrate the sorties into the wilder reaches of jazz-rock made by Tony Williams’s band, Lifetime. John Scofield is at his bluesy best vying with the versatile Hammond of Larry Goldings, Jack DeJohnette on drums is a precise mix of grace and fire.
The stage cantata David features Eleni Karaindrou’s music for a unique piece of Aegean drama, a verse play with words by an unknown 18th century poet from the island of Chios. Its text (first published only in 1979), invites a musical response and Greek composer Karaindrou rises splendidly to the challenge, imaginatively moving between past and present in her settings for mezzo-soprano and baritone singers, instrumental soloists, choir and orchestra.
The Danish String Quartet has had some wildly original programming ideas; here they settle for just a well-thought-out set of contemporary pieces. All three of these string quartets are early works by composers who have since gone on to renown; at the time of the album's 2016 release, Hans Abrahamsen was gaining lots of attention from well beyond his native Denmark.
Black Ice is a nice image for Dutch pianist Wolfert Brederode’s new trio music, with its gleaming lyricism, transparency, and hint of danger, as well as sleek melodic invention both from the leader and from Icelandic bassist Gulli Gudmundsson. Brederode and Gudmundsson have collaborated often over the last two decades in contexts from free improvisation to theatre music and have a keenly honed intuitive understanding. Jasper van Hulten is a resourceful addition to the team, a tone-sensitive drummer adept at embellishing the sensitive musical language and sense of interplay. The album, recorded at Lugano’s Studio RSI in July 2015 and produced by Manfred Eicher, is issued as the Brederode Trio goes on tour in the Netherlands…
Kenny Wheeler's beautiful sound on trumpet and his wide range are well-displayed on his four compositions, three of which are given performances over ten minutes long. With the assistance of ECM regulars Jan Garbarek (on tenor and soprano), guitarist John Abercrombie, bassist Dave Holland, drummer Jack DeJohnette and (on one song) guitarist Ralph Towner, Wheeler emphasizes lyricism and romantic moods on this fine set of original music.
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.
Ballads, which really seems to make ballads out of ballads, has been considered both worthy of hanging on the museum wall alongside the other masterpieces and being accorded special merit as the jazz record most used for background music. Since no less a genius than the great French composer Erik Satie invented the concept of background music, this might not be such a contradiction or insult. Only the short "Circles" invites a real comparison with the piano music of Satie; elsewhere you're in extremely extended territory, Paul Bley's desire to play the slowest music in history meshing with a new style of rhythm section accompaniment that sounds like everything from tuning the drums to adjusting the drapes.
First ECM solo album from the Norwegian violinist who has gained many friends for his work with the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble. Økland’s solo music is strongly inspired by the rich Norwegian fiddle tradition and its freedom, variation and individuality, yet what he plays is not purely ‘folk music’ rather a reinvention of folk forms, with free improvisation and contemporary composition also powerful influences. The ‘personality’ of the instruments themselves is also an inspiration: on “Monograph” Økland makes the most of the ‘drone’ qualities of the viola d’amore and the Hardanger fiddle (he plays both old and modern models) as well as an old violin from 1700, in a recital of subtle and melodic invention.