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Much of the allure of producer Manfred Eicher's ECM label over the span of some three decades has been in the roster of artists who have found in the company an excellent match between the "chamber-like aesthetics of the recordings and their own muse. As such, it's no surprise that with today's smaller circle of artists on the company payroll the number of truly remarkable ECM albums as of late has been somewhat limited in number.
Universal Syncopations is enthusiastically the exception to this in that it documents a true super group with inspired results. Chick Corea and John McLaughlin are both veterans of Miles Davis' late '60s experimentations, while Jack DeJohnette first made a splash with the rock-influenced Charles Lloyd Quartet. Speaking a common generational language, the pair mixes it up with bass man Miroslav Vitous and Jan Garbarek, two gentlemen with their own common bond formed by countless ECM appearances of the past.
Without the kind of atmospheric noodling that many associate with ECM, this set keep a steady tempo from the start and it's a joy to hear how each of these well established stylists adapts to the needs at hand. Even Garbarek, whose sound can be icy at times, gets down and dirty on "Tramp Blues. A bristling romp, "Miro Bop recalls the kind of interplay that Corea and Vitous first got at on Now He Sings, Now He Sobs. The glue that holds it all together is DeJohnette's colorful drum play, that dry cymbal sound up as high in the mix as Vitous' rich bass. It all makes for an evocative recital that transcends what usually comes out of these all-star affairs.
Track Listing: Bamboo Forest, Univoyage, Tramp Blues, Faith Run, Sun Flower, Miro Bop, Beethoven, Medium, Brazil Waves
Personnel: Miroslav Vitous (bass), Jan Garbarek (saxophones), Chick Corea (piano), John McLaughlin (guitar), Jack
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.