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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bjorn Meyer: Provenance

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Bassist Björn Meyer strongly believes that there are multiple functions for bass. Born just outside of Stockholm, he started out playing piano and some guitar but when he randomly picked up a bass, he realized that he had found his instrument. Self-taught, he had been inspired by the diverse styles of Marcus Miller and Jaco Pastorius. Meyer came to prominence playing a style called Trip Folk with the Swedish group Bazar Blå and with the jazz-oriented European trio featuring reed ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anouar Brahem: Blue Maqams

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Oud-master Anouar Brahem's instantly intoxicating, Blue Maqams, caps off a truly remarkable year for ECM Records. Just think, the label's release schedule this year included essential recordings by Benedikt Jahnel Trio's The Invariant, Django Bates' breakthrough The Study of Touch, Colin Vallon Trio's Danse, Vijay Iyer Sextet's Far From Over, and Gary Peacock's Tangents, all of them at once mysterious, challenging, and ultimately rewarding upon each listen. A magam defines traditional Arab musical phrases, tones, notes and melodies ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Maciej Obara Quartet: Dominik Wania/Ole Morten Vågan/Gard Nilssen: Unloved

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A distinct vernacular, unabashedly quixotic lyricism and an authoritative style of playing are among the notable characteristics that define Maciej Obara. The Polish saxophonist and composer had performed with Tomasz Stańko in the trumpeter's “New Balladyna Quartet" project and he has recorded with John Lindberg, Ralph Alessi, Mark Helias and Nasheet Waits. Obara was also on board for the Fonda/Stevens Group Trio + 2: Live in Katowice (Not Two, 2009). Unloved is Obara's ninth album and his ECM debut.

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bjorn Meyer: Provenance

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From the fact that his best-known role consisted of a decade in Nik Bartsch's Ronin (not to ignore his other style-bending collaborations either), it's already clear that Bjorn Meyer isn't interested in what a bass or bassist is normally supposed to do. In keeping with that attitude, his solo debut puts his low-end string work to different uses on practically each track. Playing with sound is the real game, and the instrument is a sonically rich means toward that end. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Gary Peacock: Tangents

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Throughout his storied career, bassist/composer Gary Peacock has gone a long way to make the bass an emotive and compelling solo instrument. Yet, when one looks back on--or better yet--listens back to the myriad of great recordings he has given us both as a sideman and leader, it is his emphatic, soul-intuitive, work within the piano trio format that makes us grateful. Think Bill Evans's '64 Verve debut Trio64. While ruminating in '64, listen to Peacock's exemplary work on Paul ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anouar Brahem: Blue Maqams

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Tunisian oudist/composer Anouar Brahem has been playing with jazz improvisers since the 1980s. But his earliest ECM recordings, Barzakh (1991) and Conte de l'Incroyable Amour (1992) stayed firmly in the Arabic music tradition. His recordings with jazz players began with Madar (1994) with saxophonist Jan Garbarek and tabla player Shaukat Hussain; Thimar (1997) with bassist Dave Holland and saxophonist John Surman made a fuller synthesis of both traditions. Blue Maqams takes the approach further, bringing Brahem's Arabic music to a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Django Bates: The Study of Touch

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Pianist, horn player, composer, and all-around musical disruptor, Django Bates brings back his Belovèd Trio for a third go-round, this time with The Study of Touch, his ECM leader debut. Bates--over his renowned career--has recorded in a full range of scenarios; a solo pianist on Autumn Fires (and Green Shoots) (JMT, 1994) and recently, a musician/arranger/conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Big Band on Saluting Sgt. Pepper (Edition Records, 2017), Bates is at home in any setting. As the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Stefano Battaglia: Pelagos

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Italian pianist Stefano Battaglia, an ECM artist since 2005, is a player possessed of an alluring refinement and polish carried over into his jazz work via his classical training. His best recordings, 2015's In the Morning (ECM Records) and River Of Anyder (ECM Records, 2011), are studies intricate and understated beauty. Both are piano trio outings--a format that suits Battaglia's approach, as does going it alone, his mode on Pelagos. Pelagos is Battaglia's journey into solo piano, enhanced ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Anouar Brahem: Blue Maqams

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Following an unusually long, five-year gap between 2009's low register-driven The Astounding Eyes of Rita and 2014's particularly ambitious orchestral collaboration, Souvenance, Tunisian oudist Anouar Brahem returns with Blue Maqams, another game-changing release on ECM Records. Change--or, in some cases, natural evolution--has never been hard to find on Brahem's previous nine albums for the label, the oudist's consistent home (barring his soundtrack to The Silences of the Palace, release in 1994 by Caroline) since his ethno-centric trio date, Barzakh (1991). ...


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