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Recent and Upcoming ECM Releases: January - March 2017

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Look for these recent or upcoming releases on ECM Records.

January 13th

John Abercrombie Quartet
Up and Coming

John Abercrombie: guitar Marc Copland: piano Drew Gress: double bass Joey Baron: drums

Guitarist John Abercrombie—who has recorded as a leader for ECM since 1974—returns with a second album by his quartet featuring kindred-spirit piano foil Marc Copland, along with longtime rhythm partners Drew Gress and Joey Baron. Extolling 39 Steps, the group’s 2013 album, the Financial Times said: “The emphasis is on subtle intrigue, flowing lyricism and the interplay between the leader’s warm, cleanly articulated guitar and Copland’s piano… with bassist Gress and drummer Baron equally supple and sinewy companions.” The same virtues of lyrical melody and harmonic/rhythmic subtlety are apparent with the new Up and Coming, though with even more emphasis on the enduring values of song. Abercrombie’s liquid phrasing and glowing tone – enabled by the thumb technique he has honed since eschewing a plectrum in recent years – animate his five originals and the pair by Copland, as well as a take on the exotic-sounding Miles Davis classic “Nardis” done in the spirit of Bill Evans. Up and Coming has a twilight atmosphere, with melodic flow the guiding light.

January 27th

Theo Bleckmann
Elegy

Theo Bleckmann: voice Ben Monder: guitar Shai Maestro: piano Chris Tordini: double bass John Hollenbeck: drums

Beyond being a vocalist of rare purity and daring, Theo Bleckmann is a sound painter who creates what JazzTimes has described aptly as “luminous webs” in music. The German-born New Yorker—after appearing on two ECM albums by Meredith Monk and another by Julia Hülsmann—makes his striking label debut as a leader with Elegy. This album showcases Bleckmann as a composer as much as a singer, with several instrumental pieces voiced by what he calls his “ambient” band of kindred- spirit guitarist Ben Monder, keyboardist Shai Maestro and the subtle rhythm team of Chris Tordini and John Hollenbeck. Highlights include Bleckmann’s sublime rendition of Stephen Sondheim’s “Comedy Tonight” (“tragedy tomorrow… comedy tonight”), as well as the mellifluous vocalise of “Elegy” and achingly poetic “To Be Shown to Monks at a Certain Temple.”

Colin Vallon Trio
Danse

Colin Vallon: piano; Patrice Moret: double bass; Julian Sartorius: drums

The Colin Vallon Trio has found its own space in the crowded world of the piano trio by quietly challenging its conventions. 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. Danse is issued in both CD and LP editions.

February 3rd

Ralph Towner
My Foolish Heart

Ralph Towner: classical and 12-string guitars

After critically-lauded projects with trumpeter Paolo Fresu (Chiaroscuro) and with fellow guitarists Wolfgang Muthspiel and Slava Grigoryan (Travel Guide), Ralph Towner returns to solo guitar for My Foolish Heart. Whether on classical guitar or 12- string, Towner’s touch is immediately identifiable. Solo music is an important thread through his rich discography and this new album—recorded at Lugano’s Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI in February 2016 and produced by Manfred Eicher—follows in the great tradition of Diary, Solo Concert, Ana, Anthem, and Time Line. It features finely-honed new compositions—among them a dedication to the late Paul Bley (“Blue As In Bley”)- as well as a pair of tunes (“Shard” and “Rewind”) from the songbook of Oregon, and a single standard: Victor Young’s “My Foolish Heart”, which Towner first came to love in Bill Evans’s interpretation. Ralph Towner has been an ECM recording artist since 1973. My Foolish Heart is his 29th album for the label.

February 10th

Craig Taborn
Daylight Ghosts

Craig Taborn: piano, electronics; Chris Speed: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Chris Lightcap: double bass and bass guitar; Dave King: drums

Keyboardist Craig Taborn’s Daylight Ghosts is the Minneapolis-bred New Yorker’s third ECM release as a leader, a quartet album following the solo Avenging Angel and trio disc Chants. Both projects earned wide acclaim, with The Guardian saying that Taborn’s “musicality and his attention to detail are hypnotic, as is his remarkable sense of compositional narrative within an improvised performance.” Along with the questing Taborn on piano and electronic keyboards, the quartet of Daylight Ghosts features two other luminaries from the New York scene—reed player Chris Speed and bassist Chris Lightcap—plus drummer Dave King, the leader’s fellow Minnesota native and one-third of alt-jazz trio The Bad Plus. Each player draws from a broad artistic background, as informed by rock, electronica and diverse strains of world music as they are the various permutations of jazz improvisation. Dynamism and spectral ambience, acoustic and electric sounds, groove and lingering melody—all come together to animate Daylight Ghosts.

March 17th

Julia Hulsmann Trio
Sooner And Later

Julia Hülsmann: piano; Marc Muellbauer: double bass; Heinrich Köbberling: drums

Berlin-based pianist Julia Hülsmann returns to the trio format for Sooner And Later, an album which distils the experience of journeys to distant destinations. In the last couple of years Hülsmann, bassist Marc Muellbauer and drummer Heinrich Köbberling have taken their music around the world, from Europe to the US, Canada, Peru, Central Asia and China, “where something special developed. It helped to open up new sonic territory for us”. The Central-Asian weeks find their most explicit echo in the form of “Biz Joluktuk”, a tune the band heard in performance from a 12 year old violinist in Kyrgyzstan and which was later re-harmonized by Julia. Once again all three members of the trio have contributed compositions to the album. The title of Hülsmann’s “Thatpujai” is an anagram of “Jutta Hipp”, and its theme is comprised of phrases from the late German jazz pianist’s solos. The program is rounded out by a cover of Radiohead’s “All I Need” which, like the Hülsmann-penned tracks “J.J.”, “Soon” or “Mond” with their sometimes almost clubby grooves, emphasizes the subtle rhythmic aspects of the trio’s music. Sooner And Later was recorded in September 2016 in Oslo’s Rainbow Studio, and produced by Manfred Eicher.

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