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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marc Sinan: White

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Many of us won't understand all the scalar, metronomic, Lydian, meter, or modal intricacies and subtleties that guitarist Marc Sinan and clarinetist Oguz Buyukerber work off of or against, but for those seeking some kind of rhythm in our lives, it can be found it at times, and it flows. And on White the music flows entrancingly. Or, as Sinan states in the one sheet “blurs the distinction between the real and the surreal." And that it does. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Elina Duni: Partir

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Sometimes a change in musical direction is instigated by life experiences; sometimes it's driven by nothing more than choice. Following two recordings for ECM Records with her Switzerland-based quartet, Elina Duni makes a significant directional shift with the entirely solo Partir. Given the generally introspective nature of 2012's Matanë Malit (Over the Mountain) and 2015's Dallёndyshe (The Swallow), it's no surprise to find Partir even more intimate still, the Albanian-born singer accompanied by nothing more than her relatively spare but ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Steve Tibbetts: Life Of

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Minnesota-based guitarist Steve Tibbetts has always gone his own way, crafting his albums in the recording studio with deliberate care. Many of those albums have featured his scorching electric-guitar playing, for example Exploded View (ECM, 1986) and the later A Man About a Horse (ECM, 2002). But beginning with his previous album, Natural Causes (ECM, 2010), he has concentrated on acoustic sounds. His main instrument here is a Martin 12-string guitar, but strung with double-course unison strings (in place of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nik Bärtsch: Awase

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The exquisite Awase is Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch's eighth release with his band Ronin. Although the ensemble has had a few personnel changes, the album maintains the creative energy and the spirit of its previous work. The title refers to a principle of martial arts that translates to coming together and an appropriately dynamic synergy marks all six tracks. The cinematic “Module 34," for instance, consists of atmospheric and expansive refrains that resonate against Bärtsch's cascading piano. The ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nicolas Masson: Travelers

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Following two recordings for ECM Records as a member of the cooperative Third Reel (including the trio's self-titled 2013 debut), reed multi-instrumentalist Nicolas Masson strikes out on his own with Travelers, his first album as a leader for the label. Third Reel's Swiss/Italian lineup of reeds, guitar (Roberto Pianca) and drums (Emanuele Maniscalco), along with its emphasis on collaboration and interaction over individual focus and overt virtuosity, has rendered the trio the torch bearer for the late Paul ...

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Jakob Bro: Returnings

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Danish guitarist Jakob Bro reunites with double bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Jon Christensen--the trio that recorded his ECM debut Gefion (ECM, 2015)--and adds veteran ECM stalwart trumpeter/flugelhornist Palle Mikkelborg to the mix. Usually adding a horn would make a group sound brasher, but most of the time Mikkelborg seems to have brought out Bro's introspective, atmospheric tendencies even more than the trio recordings. The connection to Gefion is made immediately with the opening track “Oktober," reprised from ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Awase

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After “Modul 60," the reflective and tranquil opener to Awase, from pianist Nik Bärtsch's groove-metric quartet Ronin, “Modul 58" comes at you with such an insistence and power that it leaves you, after its persistent eighteen minutes, catching your breath, marveling at how you went from zero to mach 10 in the blink of an eye. Bärtsch describes the music of Ronin--featuring bass clarinet/alto saxophonist Sha, bassist Thomy Jordi, and drummer Kasper Rast--as “Zen Funk" or “Ritual Groove ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Kristjan Randalu: Absence

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With a gathering, rubato flurry, Estonian pianist Kristjan Randalu, a Chick Corea-inspired student of the late, virtuosic and highly lyrical British pianist John Taylor and his mischievous compatriot Django Bates, begins “Forecast" in whirling descent, before the quiet storm of guitarist Ben Monder and drummer Marku Ounaskari take the weather out to sea, where Randalu threatens to revive the current again and again but instead gives way to clearing skies. Absence, Randalu's ECM debut, ricochets its motifs and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Norma Winstone: Descansado - Songs For Films

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Norma Winstone has had her current trio since 2001, long enough to have released five albums (four for ECM). Descansado, a celebration of cinema through the language of music, is that fourth CD, and it's a winner from start to finish. The album's title derives from a Armando Trovajoli composition, used in Italian director Vittorio De Sica's 1963 film Ieri, Oggi, Domani (Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow). The group's rendition of this touching number is typically sublime. With bass clarinetist/soprano ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

NFM Wrocław Philharmonic, Tõnu Kaljuste: Arvo Pärt: The Symphonies

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Twentieth-and twenty-first Century musical titan Arvo Pärt's career straddles both Soviet-era government artistic control and post-communism reality. Born in 1935 in Paide, Estonia, Pärt's symphonic output stands presently at four symphonies separated by and reflected in 45 years (Symphony No. 1--1964 and Symphony No.4 -2008) of turbulent history. His symphonic output in twilight, it was safe for the premiere Pärt interpreter Tõnu Kaljuste and the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic to issue a summary of the Pärt symphonic oeuvre. Conductor Kaljuste has ...