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Articles | Featured | Future

ALBUM REVIEWS

Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn: The Transitory Poems

Read "The Transitory Poems" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

Perhaps curiously or perhaps purposely for these two inspired alumni of Roscoe Mitchell's Note Factory, The Transitory Poems enters existence with the anticipatory, lets-get-acquainted improvisation “Life Line (Seven Tensions)," before each pianist's creative wanderlust and imagination takes hold and the music becomes a ranging, raging real-time white-hot collaborative statement. Recorded live at the Franz List Academy of Music in Budapest in March 2018, the first collaborative release from Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn finds two of jazz's most ...

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Dominic Miller: Absinthe

Read "Absinthe" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

Guitarist Dominic Miller''s 2017 ECM debut Silent Light was a low key affair that focused on his solo classical guitar (plus a bit of light percussion). The sequel features a full quintet with a rhythm section. A bigger sound, but with a similar impressionistic flavor. Miller's liner notes make that visual art reference explicit: as a resident of the south of France he has become fascinated with the French Impressionist painters, admiring their artistic daring. The album opens ...

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David Torn/Tim Berne/Ches Smith: Sun Of Goldfinger

Read "Sun Of Goldfinger" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

Storied experimental guitarist David Torn is also so much more: looper, songwriter, improviser, session guitarist, film composer, record producer, and mixer. In his long association with ECM Records he has done most of those things, going back to Cloud About Mercury (1987, recently reissued)--arguably still his best known album as a leader--the group project Prezens (2007), which featured Tim Berne and others, and his more recent solo looping album Only Sky (2015). Production credits include Tim Berne's You've Been Watching ...

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Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn: The Transitory Poems

Read "The Transitory Poems" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

The seed that started The Transitory Poems, the two piano set from Vijay Iyer and Craig Taborn, was planted in 2002, when the two pianists played in saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell's band, Note Factory, contributing to Song for My Sister (Pi Recordings, 2002). At that time Taborn and Iyer fell into the “exciting young lions" category, and the experience with Mitchell was certainly formative for both. In the year 2002 Taborn boasted only two albums (as a leader) to his name. ...

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Mats Eilertsen Trio: And Then Comes The Night

Read "And Then Comes The Night" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

Norwegian bassist Mats Eilertsen has a large discography as a performer, but his compositional talents are equally striking. His previous ECM release as a leader, 2016's Rubicon, was a composer's showcase featuring a septet. But he has also worked in much smaller configurations, for example Meander (Ora Fonogram, 2017) his recent duet recording with guitarist Jo David Meyer Lysne. This album reunites him with pianist Harmen Fraanje (who appeared on Rubicon) and drummer Thomas Strønen (a fellow band ...

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David Torn: Sun Of Goldfinger

Read "Sun Of Goldfinger" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

For less daring and disillusioned audiences, David Torn's ongoing conversation and debate with the twenty-first century Sun of Goldfinger might sound unnervingly like seventy-plus minutes of tuneless, churning exposition laying waste to conventional form. For the rest, these three uncompromising works create an immersive excursion into an intense creative mind opening itself to all possibilities. Along with absorbing listeners and expecting reductive reactions from them, fellow New York adventurers also join Torn on these mercurial dialogs. Tim Berne's ...

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Bobo Stenson Trio: War Orphans

Read "War Orphans" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Manfred Eicher started ECM Records in 1969. Fifty years later, in 2019, with over 1500 releases to its name, the label continues to offer up compelling and unclassifiable music. And since the catalog is deep, and early-in-the-effort recordings have become harder to find, ECM periodically re-releases some of these gems, tagging them Touchstones. Early 2019--the half-century mark for ECM--finds a batch of twenty-five ECM Touchstone releases hitting the airwaves, music from pianist, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, pianist Paul ...

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David Torn/Tim Berne/Ches Smith: Sun Of Goldfinger

Read "Sun Of Goldfinger" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Sometimes a recording comes with a “play it loud" recommendation. Let's give one of those to Sun Of Goldfinger, from guitarist David Torn, alto saxophonist Tim Berne and percussionist Ches Smith. Torn, a self-described “texturalist/guitarist," has been associated with ECM Records since the '80s, with Cloud About Mercury (1987)--a disc the label is reissuing in 2019--and Without Warning and Best Laid Plans, both from 1984. Berne and Smith are relative newcomers to ECM, with four CD releases, beginning ...

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Larry Grenadier: The Gleaners

Read "The Gleaners" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

Bassist Larry Grenadier has a most impressive resume: multiple recordings with Herbie Mann, Paul Motian, Charles Lloyd, trumpeter/brother Phil Grenadier, vocalist/wife Rebecca Martin, Chris Potter, Joshua Redman, Jamie Saft, and many others. His brand has long been enhanced by his stellar work with Pat Metheny and a twenty-plus-year association with Brad Mehldau. It's not surprising that Grenadier hasn't released a solo album, given the relative rarity of stand-alone bass recordings, but The Gleaners proves to be worth the wait.

ALBUM REVIEWS

Mats Eilertsen: And Then Comes The Night

Read "And Then Comes The Night" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

On their first offering for ECM as a trio, And Then Comes The Night, stalwart label mates: bassist/leader/composer {Mats Eilertsen, drummer Thomas Strønen, and ethereal pianist Harmen Fraanje deftly create a sustained work of near impossible beauty and sublime human interaction. With evanescent shifts of time, shaded harmony and tone, Eilertsen--his nuanced writing highlighted on the acutely hailed Rubicon (ECM, 2016)--the bassist boldly strips down from septet to a trio, resulting in a music more expansive, more revelatory ...

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Ralph Alessi: Imaginary Friends

Read "Imaginary Friends" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

Ever leading the avant-garde, trumpeter Ralph Alessi has never been pressed for future-forward ideas or the time to express them in whatever setting best suits the music. Not counting his prodigious work alongside such leading figures as Fred Hersch, Don Byron, and Steve Coleman, in this tumultuous century alone Alessi has led and released such challenging works as This Against That (RKM, 2002), the blazing Cognitive Dissonance (Cam Jazz, 2010) with Jason Moran, his ECM debut Badia (2013), and the ...

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Joe Lovano: Trio Tapestry

Read "Trio Tapestry" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

With all tonalities being created equal, on Trio Tapestries, Joe Lovano's first as a leader for ECM and one of the first releases of the label's fiftieth year, silence abides. Both as concept and as actuality, silence lays at the heart of this eleven song lattice. Even the spacing between the tracks hangs appended, allowing the music to arise and fall, like thoughts and non-thoughts amid meditation. By way of an invocational duet, “One Time In" with its ...