The material on this date falls comfortably within the realm of what the ECM label is famous for; meticulously recorded, lyrical chamber music (and the requisite lush reverb is ever present). In addition to leader Erskine, the playing and writing of English pianist, John Taylor, is featured. Taylor is an excellent technician with considerable harmonic agility; his approach is heavily influenced by Bill Evans via Keith Jarrett. Bassist Palle Danielsson completes a very sympathetic, highly interactive rhythm section. "Evans Above" and "Pure & Simple" are by Taylor, whose writing tends to conjour an English pastoral aesthetic and often has elements of so-called new age piano music, a left hand ostinato for example. To Taylor's credit, however, his compositions never get as predictable as most music in that genre. The same is true of writer Vince Mendoza, whose tunes are also featured on this recording.
The reason to mention the "particulars" of this document of informal sessions is because Keith Jarrett went to the trouble of doing so in his liner notes: they came about in the aftermath of him and Charlie Haden playing together during a documentary film about Haden. The duo, who hadn't played together in over 30 years, got along famously and decided to do some further recording in Jarrett's home studio without an end result in mind. The tapes sat – though were discussed often – for three years before a decision was made to release them. Jarrett used his home Steinway instead of his usual concert Boisendorfer.
Guitarist Ralph Towner (who also plays a bit of piano) teams up with the highly sympathetic bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette for five of his originals on this 1978 date. The music unfolds slowly but logically, and Towner's quiet sound displays a lot of inner heat. Highlights include "Waterwheel" and the 16-minute "Batik." Well worth listening to closely, at a high volume.
Special Edition – a band with revolving membership and an incredible cast of soloists including David Murray, Arthur Blythe and Chico Freeman – was one of the most sophisticated vehicles for Jack DeJohnette’s all-around talents. This collection brings together Special Edition, Tin Can Alley, Inflation Blues and Album Album, underscoring the excitement of invention and possibility one can hear in this era of DeJohnette’s career. The recordings reveal him as an artist in touch with tradition even as he sought the cutting edge of the day, paying homage to his jazz heroes yet experimenting with new sounds.
Trumpeter Markus Stockhausen follows, not leads, this haunting improvisation session with Gary Peacock on bass, Fabrizio Ottaviucci on piano, and Zoro Babel on drums. The colors are as rich as the names on the roster, and work their way through eight improvisatory spaces with varying degrees of clarity. “So Far,” for instance, begins like fingers groping along the wall of a pitch-dark room, awakening after an undisclosed period of unconsciousness.
When one thinks of pairing vibraphonist Gary Burton with another soloist, Chick Corea comes foremost to mind. Burton’s work with guitarist Ralph Towner could hardly be more different, for where the former configuration funnels into a colorful storm of activity, in the latter we find far more intimate gestures articulated in monochrome. Case in point: “Maelstrom,” which starts us on the inside, spinning on its edge like a coin teetering at the promise of rest. Towner is as delicate as ever, fitting his harmonic staircases into Burton’s Escherian architecture with ease. This piece also highlights Towner’s compositional talents, which make up eight of the album’s nine tracks (the only exception being the slice of sonic apple pie that is “Blue In Green”).
This set of duets by vibraphonist Gary Burton and guitarist Ralph Towner features a logical matchup, since both musicians are open to folk melodies and are generally quiet improvisers. In addition to six Towner originals and Burton's "Brotherhood," the set has thoughtful versions of "Some Other Time" and "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat." More tempo and mood variation would have uplifted the otherwise fine music.
Pianist Nik Bärtsch's Zurich quintet Ronin has released a handful of recordings, but Holon is only the second released in the United States. When Stoa was issued in 2006, it was like this startling blast of air. Was it jazz? Was it minimalist classical music? Was it acoustic techno? Bärtsch calls it "zen funk." OK, fair enough, but in actuality, while it bears traces and borrows elements from all of the aforementioned genres, Ronin is its own animal, its own sound, its own complex yet utterly accessible musical identity or, better, brand. They have toured relentlessly all over the world, and as a result, this quintet is not only well seasoned, but also it has taken the music up the ladder a couple of rungs.
The fourth ECM album for the Wasilewski Trio adds a special guest, the lyrical Swedish saxophonist Joakim Milder, whom the Poles came to know through performances with Tomasz Stanko’s Litania project. Amongst other affinities, the players share a love of Krzyzstof Komeda’s music, and Komeda’s “Sleep Safe and Warm” theme, written for Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby makes a reappearance here. As ever, the Wasilewski group balances original material – intensely melodic new tunes by Marcin (including two variations of the beautiful title track) – with a daring range of covers, embracing Herbie Hancock, the Police’s “Message In A Bottle” and Slawomir Kurkiewicz’s arrangement of a composition by Grazyna Bacewicz, and reinforces its status as one of the most resourceful groups around.
First recorded collaboration between one of the leading sopranos of our time, Juliane Banse, and the incomparable pianist András Schiff. The programme is a fascinating combination of two different worlds of 'Liedgesang' - in language as well as musical style and historicity.