ecm records

ecm records on Elsewhere by Graham Reid - browse 111 items of content tagged as 'ecm records'.

PETER HAEDER PROFILED: Portrait of the artist as musical itinerant

PETER HAEDER PROFILED: Portrait of the artist as musical itinerant

In a recent conversation this German-born Auckland-based guitarist mentioned an album of his I had forgotten about: it was Kling-Klang (on Ode) and at a guess came from some time in the early-to-mid 90s. His mention of it prompted me to get it out again because I had been very taken with it at the time. It was Haeder in a variety of...

Tord Gustavsen Trio; Being There (ECM) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Tord Gustavsen Trio; Being There (ECM) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

This is Norwegian pianist Gustavsen's third album on the prestigious ECM label and his self-described style of "loving every note" is the hallmark of these often beautifully spare tracks where there is sometimes a hymnal quality, sometimes an intensity of focus that recalls Bill Evans, and at others times an almost ambient Eno-like...

Russel Walder: Rise (Nomad Soul/Ode)

Russel Walder: Rise (Nomad Soul/Ode)

Walder was the producer/arranger and oboe player on Whirimako Black's exceptional Kura Huna album of two years ago, and if there had been any justice it would have appeared in "best of the year" lists. My guess was too few critics heard it, some were put off by Black singing in te reo (the Maori language), and even fewer...

Rolf Lislevand: Nuova Musiche (ECM New Series)

Rolf Lislevand: Nuova Musiche (ECM New Series)

The clue here is the record label, this is on a long-running subsidiary imprint within the famous ECM jazz label which is specifically for classical music, although not "classical music" as you might understand it. The New Series' biggest hit was the pairing of jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek with the vocals of the Hilliard...

Motian/Frisell/Lovano: Time and Time Again (ECM/Ode)

Motian/Frisell/Lovano: Time and Time Again (ECM/Ode)

These musicians -- drummer Paul Motian, guitarist Bill Frisell and saxophonist Joe Lovano -- are of the generation which has, by the attrition of age of those who preceeded them, are becoming the senior statesmen of jazz. Yes, figures such as Ornette Coleman and Joe Henderson are still around, but their output is so minimal as to be of...

John Surman: The Spaces in Between (ECM/Ode)

John Surman: The Spaces in Between (ECM/Ode)

British saxophonist Surman's career has been a pleasure to follow: right from early ECM albums such as Upon Reflection ('79), The Amazing Adventures of Simon Simon ('81) and, especially, Private City in '87 (on all of which he played synthesizers as well as bass clarinet in addition to various saxes). Over the decades he has also worked...

Dino Saluzzi/Anja Lechner: Ojos Negros (ECM/Ode)

Dino Saluzzi/Anja Lechner: Ojos Negros (ECM/Ode)

Argentinean bandoneon player Saluzzi (along with Astor Piazzolla) is widely and correctly credited with bringing this instrument to universal attention through his early work with jazz musicians such as Gato Barbieri. Given his intense and often dramatic style, he also found a natural home on the ECM jazz label where he worked with the likes...

Erkki-Sven Tuur: Oxymoron (ECM New Series/Ode)

Erkki-Sven Tuur: Oxymoron (ECM New Series/Ode)

Contemporary classical music -- which often sounds like it comes from "elsewhere" -- sometimes gets a look in at these pages, especially if it is challenging. And this certainly is. These four works by Estonian composer Tuur include a short piece for a male choir and an ensemble of clarinet, bassoon, trombone, percussion, oboe and...

Zbigniew Preisner: Silence, Night and Dreams (EMI)

Zbigniew Preisner: Silence, Night and Dreams (EMI)

Composer Preisner is best known for his dramatic soundtrack work -- but this gentle exploration of Biblical texts owes more to austere and evocative meditative music, which makes that album title utterly apt. The title track and a couple of others feature the pure and unwavering vocals of the young soprano Tom Cully from Libera (who looks...

Herbie Hancock: River, The Joni Letters (Verve)

Herbie Hancock: River, The Joni Letters (Verve)

Jazzman Hancock has long been a supporter of Mitchell so this tribute to her music -- with another longtime Joni sideman Wayne Shorter on saxes -- comes as no surprise. And Mitchell's music has long moved into that melodically flexible area jazz musicians inhabit. What does surprise however is Mitchell's guest vocal on Tea Leaf Prophecy where...

Enrico Rava/Stefano Bollani: The Third Man (ECM/Ode)

Enrico Rava/Stefano Bollani: The Third Man (ECM/Ode)

It often surprises me what record companies prioritise. My understanding is that the German label ECM is putting a push behind the new album by percussionist Manu Katche, Playground, which is a fine, but somewhat straight-ahead jazz album and not especially adventurous for the most part. Real interest there lies with pianist Marcin Wasilewski...

Jon Balke: Book of Velocities (ECM/Ode)

Jon Balke: Book of Velocities (ECM/Ode)

From the school of "so spare it's barely there" comes this delightful, melodic and restful debut solo album by the Norwegian pianist Balke, here improvising through 19 short pieces (the longest short of five minutes, most between two and four minutes). They are not miniatures as such, more like fully realised ideas that need be...

Kim Kashkashian and Robert Levin: Asturiana (ECM New Series/Ode)

Kim Kashkashian and Robert Levin: Asturiana (ECM New Series/Ode)

Although subtitled "Songs from Spain and Argentina" and Levin saying these pieces are "unabashedly flamboyant", there is little of that passionate looseness here in these viola and piano duets, rather a more stately drawing room feel is brought to these transcriptions of folk-influenced songs, seven by Manuel de Falla....

Jacob Young: Sideways (ECM/Ode)

Jacob Young: Sideways (ECM/Ode)

With the same refined band as on his ECM debut of three years or so ago, this Norwegian-American guitarist has once again crafted an album of subtle shades, gentle lyricism and persuasive melodies. At times you may hear suggestions of Pat Metheny at his most quietly romantic, at other times Young steps aside to let trumper Matthias Eick or...

Marcin Wasilewski Trio: January (ECM)

Marcin Wasilewski Trio: January (ECM)

If you go to the Thomas Stanko essay/review under Absolute Elsewhere (see tag) you may read at the end my cheap witticism about the names of these guys. That said, it works for me -- I took one look at the names here (pianist Marcin Wasilweski, bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz) and remembered them immediately. When...

The Bad Plus, Prog (Do the Math/Universal)

The Bad Plus, Prog (Do the Math/Universal)

This US jazz trio comes with formidable advance notices: Rolling Stone (not exactly a jazz journal) described their music as "action packed and totally schizophrenic -- in a good way". I don't hear it quite that way. They certainly pound up a storm sometimes (the thundering repeated piano chords and percussion in the nine minute...

Wolfert Brederode, Currents (ECM/Ode)

Wolfert Brederode, Currents (ECM/Ode)

Minimalism may have run its course but there are pieces on this appealing album by pianist Brederode (and group) which find a romantic heart within the steady pulse. Brederode and his band -- Claudio Puntin on clarinets, Mats Eilertsen on double bass and drummer Samuel Rohrer -- represent a new generation for the ECM label which is now...

Keith Jarrett Trio: Setting Standards (ECM/Ode)

Keith Jarrett Trio: Setting Standards (ECM/Ode)

Pianist Keith Jarrett's career and recent work has been well covered at Elsewhere so all that needs be said about this triple set is that it collects the two albums in his Standards series with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack deJohnette in which the trio explored with sensitivity and contemporary relevance the Great American Songbook, and...

Charles Lloyd Quartet: Rado de Nube (ECM/Ode)

Charles Lloyd Quartet: Rado de Nube (ECM/Ode)

The rehabilitation and resurrection of saxophonist Lloyd is outlined elsewhere at Elsewhere (see tag) but in brief it goes like this: he made huge selling album in the late 60s which was embraced by hip hippies, accusations of "sell out" from jazzers followed, the wounded Lloyd retreated from the public gaze, then slowly reappeared via...

Stephan Micus: Snow (ECM/Ode)

Stephan Micus: Snow (ECM/Ode)

Multi-instrumentalist Micus first crossed my path about two decades back with his beguiling Wings Over Water album on which he played (among other things) tuned flowerpots. You don't easily forget someone like that. He has continued on his quiet and considered path adding unusual string things, choral singing, gongs and much more to his...

Marilyn Crispell: Vignettes (ECM/Ode)

Marilyn Crispell: Vignettes (ECM/Ode)

American pianist Crispell was a longtime member of saxophonist Anthony Braxton's often demanding quartet, and that alone tells you she knows what it means to be put on the spot under the spotlight. Braxton's was assiduously thoughtful improvised music which sometimes had the discipline of mathematical construction. But with sweat. The ECM...

Mathias Eick: The Door (ECM/Ode)

Mathias Eick: The Door (ECM/Ode)

On a blindfold test I doubt many who listen to Norwegian prog-rockers Jaga Jazzist would pick the trumpter leading this ECM set as the same guy from that big band. But Eick has popped up in many shapes:he has played alongside Chick Corea and in jazz orchestras, was a guest in the psychedelic rock band Motorpsycho and is a dab hand on guitar and...

Sigur Ros: Meo suo i eyrum vio spilum endalaust (EMI)

Sigur Ros: Meo suo i eyrum vio spilum endalaust (EMI)

The good thing about this being disappointing is that I doubt I'll have to type the album title (which apparently means "with a buzz in our ears we play endlessly") too many times.After their oblique sonic landscapes and the superb CD/DVD Heima, this time out these post-rock Icelandic musicians have gone for more economic...

ALAN BROADBENT INTERVIEWED: The art of time, and timing

ALAN BROADBENT INTERVIEWED: The art of time, and timing

To my horror recently, I realised it had been almost a quarter of a century since I first interviewed the LA-based expat jazz pianist Alan Broadbent. It was 1984 and he was briefly back in Auckland to play a show and record an album with New Zealand’s in-house rhythm section of drummer Frank Gibson and bassist Andy Brown. At the time I...

Charles Lloyd: Lift Every Voice (2002)

Charles Lloyd: Lift Every Voice (2002)

It's a fair bet the average jazz musician earns considerably less than Lenny Kravitz, and probably works a darn sight harder.  Sales of jazz albums are modest – in the US 10,000 was considered a good seller – and not too many jazz musicians find their music used in Tom Cruise or J. Lo movies, let alone lucrative...

COMPOSER JOHN TAVENER INTERVIEWED (1993): Lifting the Veil

COMPOSER JOHN TAVENER INTERVIEWED (1993): Lifting the Veil

Late in 1992 in one of his increasingly rare interviews, British classical composer John Tavener uncharacteristically hit back at the critics who had been sniping at his most recent work, The Protecting Veil. After noting that critics want their intellects tickled but had forgotten about the intellect of the heart, he skewered them for their...

Bill Frisell Band: Lookout For Hope (ECM)

Bill Frisell Band: Lookout For Hope (ECM)

It would be a brave or foolish person who tried to give a snapshot of the career of this guitarist in just a few short sentences: so here goes a fool. Frisell came out of the Midwest (so there's some country, widescreen sensibilities and folk for you) and studied at Berklee with Jim Hall (some straight jazz into the mix). He became an...

KEITH JARRETT'S THE MELODY AT NIGHT, WITH YOU (1999). Distilling genius

KEITH JARRETT'S THE MELODY AT NIGHT, WITH YOU (1999). Distilling genius

These days, Keith Jarrett gets as much space, sometimes more, in jazz encyclopaedias as the great saxophonist John Coltrane.  That irritates some people, it would be like Van Morrison getting more than Sam Cooke in a dictionary of soul. But there’s a reason: they’ve lived longer, done more. When Coltrane died in...

CHARLIE HADEN, JAZZ BASSIST AND COMPOSER: Like dreamers do . . .

CHARLIE HADEN, JAZZ BASSIST AND COMPOSER: Like dreamers do . . .

By rights, 71year old bassist/composer Charlie Haden shouldn’t be around in jazz today. Like so many of his generation he had a heroin addiction in the early 60s and often wouldn’t show up on the bandstand until midnight, and even then only be half there. But there’s also another reason. Haden was born in Shenandoah, Idaho...

Paul Motian: Conception Vessel (ECM)

Paul Motian: Conception Vessel (ECM)

Another in the mid-price reissue of early albums on the ECM label, this one from 1973 under drummer Paul Motian's name is an oddity in the ECM catalogue: unlike virtually every other album on the imprint where stable groups or studio-arranged line-ups present a cohesive music, this one has only Motian as the constant. And it is almost a...

DAVID SANBORN, JAZZ AND ELSEWHERE SAXOPHONIST INTERVIEWED (1992): Where it's at, wherever "at" is at.

DAVID SANBORN, JAZZ AND ELSEWHERE SAXOPHONIST INTERVIEWED (1992): Where it's at, wherever "at" is at.

A little over three years ago an American magazine profiled alto saxophonist David Sanborn and included a selected discography. It made terrifyingly impressive reading. Aside from almost a dozen albums under his own name – and a pretty high count of Grammy awards among them – there were the albums where he’d had a guest spot....

Savina Yannatou/Primavera en Salonico: Songs of An Other (ECM)

Savina Yannatou/Primavera en Salonico: Songs of An Other (ECM)

Not going to lie to you: this one isn't easy and certainly won't be to everyone's taste -- but I guess you have to expect that when a Greek singer takes on Armenia, Bulgarian, Albania etc folk in the company of a group which includes oud, guitar, accordion, double bass and nay (Egyptian flute). Oh, and it is on the ECM jazz label -- so...

EGBERTO GISMONTI: Guitarist with a much-stamped passport

EGBERTO GISMONTI: Guitarist with a much-stamped passport

They say truth is where you find it. For Brazilian multi-instrumentalist and composer Egberto Gismonti it was there among the Indian peoples of the remote Xingu region of the Amazonian jungle back in the late 70s. For a month, far removed from the urban world he knew and with no common language other than music, Gismonti lived and played...

The Gary Burton Quintet: Dreams So Real (ECM/Ode)

The Gary Burton Quintet: Dreams So Real (ECM/Ode)

Another in the on-going series of mid-price reissue of ECM albums from the vaults, this recording of material by Carla Bley comes from 1976, and vibes player Burton with a band of luminaries who went on to become major players and central to the ECM roster: guitarists Mick Goodrick and Pat Metheny, bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Bob Moses....

The Julia Hulsmann Trio: The End of A Summer (ECM)

The Julia Hulsmann Trio: The End of A Summer (ECM)

The prolific ECM jazz label has been getting a few notices at Elsewhere in recent months, but largely on the strength of its mid-price reissue of some excellent releases from its early catalogue such albums by the Gary Burton Quintet , Paul Motian and Bill Frisell. But of course ECM has an on-going series of contemporary releases,...

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . JACO PASTORIUS: High times and low notes

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . JACO PASTORIUS: High times and low notes

For a jazz musician, Jaco Pastorius died in pretty creditable rock n’ roll style: drug, delusions, alcohol and itinerancy. And beaten to a pulp by a nightclub manager who didn’t recognise the persistent drunk battering on his door at 4am as a former genius on electric bass. Pastorius’ remarkable but brief life is inscribed...

Tsabropoulos, Lechner, Gandhi: Melos (ECM/Ode)

Tsabropoulos, Lechner, Gandhi: Melos (ECM/Ode)

On a first encounter you will think you won't get much bbq season play out of this melancholy, autumnal album of original pieces by pianist Vassilis Tsabropoulos and interpretations of short compostions by Gurdjieff which come coloured by the lachrymose violincello of Anja Lechner. Song of Prosperity 1 sounds anything but. However there is a...

JOHN SURMAN: The casually-dressed career

JOHN SURMAN: The casually-dressed career

The European jazz label ECM rarely uses photos of musicians on its covers: usually they are blurry photos taken out a moving vehicle; monochromatic landscapes; eerily evocative imagery . . . They rarely have liner notes and cloak the music with an air of esoteric mystery. There might also be a more practical reason: most jazz artists...

CHICK COREA INTERVIEWED (2007): The restless quest for connection

CHICK COREA INTERVIEWED (2007): The restless quest for connection

After the long drought came the flood: just 10 days on from Herbie Hancock’s Auckland concert in early 2007 came that by Chick Corea, a keyboard player whose jazz career is equally long and diverse. For jazz lovers used to years between international artists of this calibre, these musicians connect to two great periods in jazz: Corea...

ENRICO RAVA AND NEW YORK DAYS: The trumpet calls the faithful

ENRICO RAVA AND NEW YORK DAYS: The trumpet calls the faithful

It’s disappointing and embarrassing that one encounter may put you off a musician for such a long time. Then, shame-faced, you crawl your way back later and have to concede everybody else was right. When I first heard The Band I was into loud rock’n’roll and these country music guys just seemed exceptionally dull and -- the...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Jon Hassell: Last Night the Moon Came (ECM/Ode)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Jon Hassell: Last Night the Moon Came (ECM/Ode)

By sheer coincidence, this new album by ambient trumpeter Jon Hassell (full title "Last night the moon came dropping its clothes in the street" from a poem by Rumi) arrived just as I was posting his 1981 release Dream Theory in Malaya as an Essential Elsewhere album. And it is pleasing to report that when it comes to his seductive,...

Jon Hassell: Dream Theory in Malaya (1981)

Jon Hassell: Dream Theory in Malaya (1981)

When I imported this album in 1981 it was on the basis of faith: faith that the Melody Maker writer who had hailed it was on the money, that Brian Eno who appeared as a collaborator and on whose EG Music imprint it appeared was right, that it would be as good as their previous collaboration, and that it would arrive intact. My faith was...

Miroslav Vitous Group: Remembering Weather Report (ECM)

Miroslav Vitous Group: Remembering Weather Report (ECM)

With the reunion of Chick Corea and John McLaughlin; bassist Stanley Clarke back with another trio album with pianist Hiromi and drummer Lenny White; Clarke, Corea, White and guitarist Al Di Meola returning as another Return to Forever; and other Seventies fusion artists on the trail again it looks like that whole movement has been...

Tortoise: Beacons of Ancestorship (UNSPK)

Tortoise: Beacons of Ancestorship (UNSPK)

As the band most likely to be cited when the discussion turned to "post-rock", this five-piece from Chicago have been critically acclaimed for their magpie tendencies (they lift from prog-rock, free jazz, punk, post-punk, electronica, Can and other equally unconstrained Krautrock bands) but largely haven't connected with an audience...

Steve Kuhn: Mostly Coltrane (ECM/Ode)

Steve Kuhn: Mostly Coltrane (ECM/Ode)

Even those jazz listeners not usually drawn to the sound and style of many albums on the ECM label would find the pedigree of the players here, and the topic of their conversation, mighty appealing: pianist Kuhn actually played with John Coltrane for two months in 1960 when he (Kuhn) was 21; the drummer here in this acoustic group is the...

Anouar Brahem: The Astounding Eyes of Rita (ECM/Ode)

Anouar Brahem: The Astounding Eyes of Rita (ECM/Ode)

The previous album posted at Elsewhere by this oud player, Le Voyage de Sahar, was one of the best in his long career and -- as with Le pas du chat noir of 2002 -- confirmed that he was craeting his own genre, a kind of Middle Eastern chamber jazz for oud, piano and accordion. There was a cool stillness about Le Voyage de Sahar and that mood...

TERJE RYPDAL, ECM GUITARIST (2009): The career, and careering across the disc

TERJE RYPDAL, ECM GUITARIST (2009): The career, and careering across the disc

Like many artists on the ECM label, the Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal is largely faceless: you could have listened to his albums for decades as I have done and still pass him in the supermarket and not recognise him. By my count he’s done about 20 albums under his own name on ECM, and appeared on almost as many others as one of...

JAN GARBAREK, ECM SAXOPHONIST (2009): The times they have a-changed

JAN GARBAREK, ECM SAXOPHONIST (2009): The times they have a-changed

When my dad was boy he used to make his own crystal sets, small radio receivers so finely tuned if you breathed hard they’d go off the exotic overseas broadcast you were picking up. Within his lifetime he lived from crystal sets into the CD age. I thought of this when Jan Garbarek’s new album Dresden arrived in late 2009. I...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Jon Balke and Amina Alaoui: Siwan (ECM/Ode)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2009 Jon Balke and Amina Alaoui: Siwan (ECM/Ode)

This album fits squarely into Elsewhere, but perhaps in few other places. Not only does it feature Elsewhere favourite Jon Hassell on trumpet and electronic effects, but it has a swooning Arab North African quality (singer Amina Alaoui comes from Morocco), the poetic lyrics come from Sufi writers and the whole thing is beautifully, and...

Stefano Bollani: Stone in the Water (ECM/Ode)

Stefano Bollani: Stone in the Water (ECM/Ode)

After the superb duet album The Third Man with trumpeter Enrico Rava, this one by pianist Bollani (with bassist Jesper Bodilsen and drummer Morten Lund) was always going to attract the attention of Elsewhere. But while this is beautifully realised piano trio work -- sensitive, considered, quiet and often quite elegant -- it rarely excites,...

Jan Garbarek: Rites (ECM)

Jan Garbarek: Rites (ECM)

Norwegian saxophonist Garbarek scored a huge crossover album in 1995 with Officium which lined him up with the Hilliard Ensemble for an inspired marriage of the spiritual and the secular which ended up on many classical, jazz and even pop "best of" lists. Garbarek's biting, sometimes clinically incisive, tone has often been...

John Abercrombie Quartet: Wait Till You See Her (ECM/Ode)

John Abercrombie Quartet: Wait Till You See Her (ECM/Ode)

For the first two-thirds of this album featuring guitarist Abercrombie, violinist Mark Feldman, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Joey Baron, the more vigorous emotions are kept in check: the tunes breeze by on Abercrombie's fluid and smooth, warm tone, Feldman offers the barests of suggestions of gypsy violin (and its attendant humours) -- and...

Manfred Schoof Quintet: Resonance (ECM)

Manfred Schoof Quintet: Resonance (ECM)

Here is further proof that the past is a different country: this double disc pulls together tracks from Schoof albums of the mid to late Seventies when the contract of jazz was very different. These days -- with only a few rare exceptions -- jazz has retreated from the barricades and most of it is conservative, backward looking or so...

TOMASZ STANKO INTERVIEWED (2009): A blow for freedom

TOMASZ STANKO INTERVIEWED (2009): A blow for freedom

To hear trumpeter Tomasz Stańko tell it, life in Poland in the 1960s might not have been quite as grim and mono-chromatic as we believe. -Certainly there was the irony of playing free jazz in the politically repressive atmosphere, and he laughs knowingly when offered a quote by composer-pianist Thelonious Monk: “Jazz and freedom...

Tomasz Stanko: Dark Eyes (ECM/Ode)

Tomasz Stanko: Dark Eyes (ECM/Ode)

Polish trumpeter Stanko has been introduced previously at Elsewhere on the ocassion of his excellent Lontano album. Here with yet another line-up he essays some slightly sombre territory (The Dark Eyes of Martha Hirsch, Krzysztof Komeda's Dirge For Europe) with a kind of European stateliness which isn't quite as emotionally gripping as some...

Besser and Bravura: Decadence Live (Atoll)

Besser and Bravura: Decadence Live (Atoll)

The music of Auckland-based, New York-raised pianist/composer Jonathan Besser -- often with the group Bravura -- has long deserved a broader audience than the classical world which it inhabits. Working with guitarist Nigel Gavin, bassist Peter Scott and violin player Miranda Adams (among others) whose reach stretches to experimental music,...

Kevin Field, Ron Samsom, Olivier Holland: Irony (Rattle)

Kevin Field, Ron Samsom, Olivier Holland: Irony (Rattle)

There's an old joke: if you want to make a million dollars out of jazz, start with two million. Jazz is notoriously unprofitable for its performers and record companies (a decent selling jazz album in the US sells about 3000 copies, the days of 50,000 are long gone) and yet people still do it. Why? Simple, because they love this music...

Portico Quartet: Isla (Real World/Southbound)

Portico Quartet: Isla (Real World/Southbound)

This second album by the British quartet confirms why they are one of the most interesting things on the British improv/jazz scene: and not because they are fiery adrenalin-infused post-bop players. Quite the opposite in fact. This London-based outfit (who were nominated for the 2008 Mercury Prize for their debut album Knee Deep in the North...

Ralph Towner and Paolo Fresu: Chiaroscuro (ECM/Ode)

Ralph Towner and Paolo Fresu: Chiaroscuro (ECM/Ode)

The album title here perhaps suggest rather more shadowland than is evident in these beautiful, sometimes light-filled duets by acoustic guitarist Towner and flugel/trumpet player Fresu. Certainly they head to the shadows for a lovely treatment of Blue in Green (from Miles Davis' classic Kind of Blue), but with Towner's rich and inclusive...

Tord Gustavsen Ensemble: Restored, Returned (ECM/Ode)

Tord Gustavsen Ensemble: Restored, Returned (ECM/Ode)

The previous album by young ECM pianist Gustavsen at Elsewhere was his trio album Being There which was named a Best of Elsewhere 2007 album. Echoes of that group's delicate beauty and vibrant muscularity are evident in this quintet with vocalist Kristin Asbjornsen who here sings lyrics adapted from W H Auden's Another Time on four of the 11...

OTTMAR LIEBERT INTERVIEWED (2006): A new age of flamenco

OTTMAR LIEBERT INTERVIEWED (2006): A new age of flamenco

Very few musicians can claim to have created a genre, but with his 1990 album Nouveau Flamenco, guitarist Ottmar Liebert did exactly that. Liebert’s hybrid style -- which existed somewhere between Spanish passion, classical melodicism and mellow New Age music -- spawned innumerable imitators and ensured this affable Santa Fe-based...

Eden Mulholland: Music for Dance (Isaac)

Eden Mulholland: Music for Dance (Isaac)

Probably this shouldn't work. Music for dance pieces have to be special to exist without the moving images -- and yet in theory they should be able to do exactly that. These do. Eden Mulholland has written for numerous New Zealand dance productions and is the singer-songwriter in the rock band Motorcade, but here he collects 23 discreet,...

JONATHAN ZWARTZ: Bass player in debut album shock . . . 20 years on

JONATHAN ZWARTZ: Bass player in debut album shock . . . 20 years on

Even longtime jazz listeners would be forgiven for not recognising the name of New Zealand-born double bassist Jonathan Zwartz. He left this country for Australia in the early Eighties, studied in the US while playing alongside the likes of Rufus Reid, and returned to Sydney a couple of decades ago. He can tick off playing with Pharoah...

Jonsi: Go (EMI)

Jonsi: Go (EMI)

At the time, some critics and people were more taken with the last Sigur Ros album than I was (the one with the absurdly long, impossible to type title). My problem was that in making economic (if still spectral and widescreen) pop in most places they had lost the very thing that made them different, interesting and quite special. I've...

Manu Katche: Third Round (ECM)

Manu Katche: Third Round (ECM)

This album under the name of mutli-culti French drummer Katche (who has worked with Pat Metheny, Jan Garbarek, Joe Zawinul, Al Di Meola,  Sting, Tori Amos, Tomasz Stanko,  Peter Gabriel et al) has to be counted a major disappointment for its sheer lack of bite. This is polite, spacious, mostly inoffensive if gently listenable jazz...

Dave Holland Octet: Pathways (Red Eye/Southbound)

Dave Holland Octet: Pathways (Red Eye/Southbound)

Bassist Dave Holland has always had a much deserved reputation for his big band line-ups for which he writes interesting charts and gets in some of the finest (and often up-coming) jazz players. Here he has the benefit of some established names: sax and flute player Antonio Hart, trombone player Robin Eubanks and vibes player Steve Nelson...

CHARLES LLOYD INTERVIEWED (2010): A forest flower in full bloom

CHARLES LLOYD INTERVIEWED (2010): A forest flower in full bloom

For exceptional people, we make an exception. And saxophonist Charles Lloyd is certainly exceptional. Not just because he enjoyed that rarity in jazz, a hit album (Forest Flower in 66 which anticipated the free spirit of the hippie era), or because he played bills with Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane. And not because he moved...

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . LARAAJI (2012): Relax, you are feeling sleepy

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . LARAAJI (2012): Relax, you are feeling sleepy

Rather cruelly, when the English rock writer Andy Gill reviewed the Laraaji album Days of Radiance back in 1980 he opened with "Zzzzz . . ." Fair call in some ways, but in its defense the album was the third in Brian Eno's ambient series and the second side was taken up with two long pieces entitled Meditation #1 and Meditation #2....

MANFRED EICHER OF ECM RECORDS, INTERVIEWED (1992): Art for the artists' sake

MANFRED EICHER OF ECM RECORDS, INTERVIEWED (1992): Art for the artists' sake

As much as a disembodied voice down a phone line can, Manfred Eicher confirms the impression he made on English journalist Richard Cook when he visited London in late ’89: “He is a slim, rather careworn-looking man, whose great energy and dedication don’t always break through a cautious temperament,” wrote Cook,...

Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden: Jasmine (ECM/Ode)

Keith Jarrett and Charlie Haden: Jasmine (ECM/Ode)

Here is a rare one: this is Elsewhere regular, Keith Jarrett's first recording outside of his trio in . . . well, it almost seems like forever. And his choice of companion is the great bassist Charlie Haden with whom he hadn't played in over three deacdes. If you want a piano-bass duet album, why not have the best? And these two are the best....

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Marilyn Crispell and David Rothenberg: One Dark Night I Left My Silent House (ECM/Ode)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Marilyn Crispell and David Rothenberg: One Dark Night I Left My Silent House (ECM/Ode)

American pianist Marilyn Crispell is one of those rarities: classically trained, she jumped in at the very deep and demanding end of the jazz pool – free jazz, Cecil Taylor, the ferociously intellectual Anthony Braxton Quartet – and used her instincts and training to keep afloat. Then she struck out confidently. Crispell...

Andy Atwill: 3 Sides of the Same Coin (Ode)

Andy Atwill: 3 Sides of the Same Coin (Ode)

Bassist (electric and acoustic), composer and arranger Atwill pulls together the cream of New Zealand jazz players (including Ron Samsom, Carolina Moon, Kevin Field and Kim Paterson) for this calling card of diversity recorded in London (which explains the presence of Greg Heath), Sydney, the States, Germany and New Zealand over the past five...

Berne, Taborn, Formanek, Cleaver: The Rub and Spare Change (ECM/Ode)

Berne, Taborn, Formanek, Cleaver: The Rub and Spare Change (ECM/Ode)

Although you would be unwise to say any particular album seems unusual on ECM -- this is a label which has had Jan Garbarek with the Hilliard Ensemble, the noisecore of Lask and the Art Ensemble of Chicago -- this one out of Downtown NYC is unexpected. The composer here is bassist Michael Formanek who has been a mainstay of the Mingus Big...

FREE JAZZ WITH A BLEEP: The Norwegian electronic-jazz label Rune Grammofone

FREE JAZZ WITH A BLEEP: The Norwegian electronic-jazz label Rune Grammofone

Thelonious Monk said, "Jazz and freedom go hand in hand”. We can guess he meant freedom in a political sense, because jazz is about individual expression and in that regard was a vehicle for the aspirations of his people. It's about freedom and post-Monk found its voice in free jazz. Free jazz is much maligned, largely...

Charles Lloyd Quartet: Mirror (ECM/Ode)

Charles Lloyd Quartet: Mirror (ECM/Ode)

Anyone who has seen this extraordinary quartet recently -- they played in New Zealand earlier this year, Lloyd interviewed here -- will need not further prodding on this album other than to know it is released, the first studio album by this line-up. These tunes -- many of them familiar in their concert repertoire and from previous albums (I...

Jorgensen, Mikkonen, Ounaskari: Kuara, Psalms and Folk Songs (ECM/Ode)

Jorgensen, Mikkonen, Ounaskari: Kuara, Psalms and Folk Songs (ECM/Ode)

Unfamiliar names, but this trumpet, piano and drum trio deliver an always interesting and often impressive line in meditative mood music which steps lightly between the most refined Miles Davis, contemporary classical and ambient world music. In places Per Jorgensen's trumpet sounds strangely discordant as it conjures up a primitive horn...

Brian Eno: Small Craft on a Milk Sea (Opal)

Brian Eno: Small Craft on a Milk Sea (Opal)

In the early Seventies the ambient albums by Brian Eno -- sometimes soundtracks for quiet, imagined films -- ushered in a kind of intelligent ambient music and the music on his Obscure label brought people like Gavin Bryars, Michael Nyman and others to a wider audience than they might have otherwise enjoyed. Eno's own Music for Films series,...

MICHAEL NYMAN INTERVIEWED (1993): Play us a film, piano man

MICHAEL NYMAN INTERVIEWED (1993): Play us a film, piano man

For director Jane Campion to have as noted a composer as Michael Nyman to score the soundtrack for her film The Piano was as simple as a phone call. From his home in Toulouse, Nyman -- whose extensive career is best known for his soundtracks to Peter Greenaway films – acknowledges that he knew Campion’s previous films...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Llyria (ECM/Ode)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Nik Bartsch's Ronin: Llyria (ECM/Ode)

Because music on the ECM label often invites a litany of familiar adjectives -- austere, cool, detached -- it's a pleasure to throw this disc into the player and find yourself thinking more along the lines of . . . muscular, vigorous, assertive.   Even the cover here suggests fireworks --- and while the music isn't exactly incendiary...

ARVO PART, TABULA RASA: The sound of angel wings

ARVO PART, TABULA RASA: The sound of angel wings

The story is such an improbable cliché it can only be true: one night in the late 70s while driving between Stuttgart and Zurich, the famous jazz producer Manfred Eicher heard music on the radio so entrancing he had to pull over to listen more closely. Eicher – founder of the ECM label which has a reputation for music of often...

Chet Baker: In New York (American Jazz Classics/Southbound)

Chet Baker: In New York (American Jazz Classics/Southbound)

Although you could hardly argue with a line-up which had tenor player Johnny Griffin, pianist Al Haig, bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones alongside trumpeter Chet Baker, the result was a fairly mainstream, late Fifties sessions which -- while admittedly pushing Baker in a way he hadn't previously -- don't really separate...

Arthur Russell: Another Thought (1985)

Arthur Russell: Another Thought (1985)

Curiously, it has only been in recent years that the British music press "discovered" Arthur Russell. But maybe not so curious: Russell died of Aids-related illnesses in '92 and although he left behind literally many hundreds of reels of recordings (everything from disco through experimental pop to Russell singing with just his cello...

Souad Massi: O Houria/Liberty (Wrasse/Shock)

Souad Massi: O Houria/Liberty (Wrasse/Shock)

It has been far too long since this Paris-based Algerian singer has graced the pages of Elsewhere -- her Mesk Elil of 2007 contained the sublime psychedelic track Tell Me Why (here) among other delights, and her double acoustic "best of" album of 2009 (although it didn't get a mention here) has been a personal favourite for a long...

Trygve Seim/Andreas Utnem: Purcor; Songs for Saxophone and Piano (ECM/Ode)

Trygve Seim/Andreas Utnem: Purcor; Songs for Saxophone and Piano (ECM/Ode)

On a blindfold test -- "What record label is this on?" -- my money would be on greater than 90 percent of music-aware Elsewhere people saying immediately "ECM", and about half of those left over making an inspired guess and saying the same. Much as this is all things which its oddly under-claiming promo makes for it...

Blood and Burger: Guitar Music (Derniere Bande)

Blood and Burger: Guitar Music (Derniere Bande)

The great jazz, post-Hendrix and entirely Elsewhere guitarist James Blood Ulmer delivered exceptional albums of post-Ornette Coleman harmolodic music such as Tales of Captain Black and Are You Glad To Be In America on John Snyder's short-lived but creditable Artist House label. But then he slowly evaporated from...

POINT MUSIC (1992-2002): A decade of delivering new music

POINT MUSIC (1992-2002): A decade of delivering new music

In many ways Rory Johnston looked exactly what he was, the vice-president of A&R (artists and repertoire) of a contemporary classical music label. It was there in the high, broad forehead and clear eyes, in the modulated speech and the vocabulary which didn't shy from a polysyllable or two. When I met him in the mid Nineties in...

Julia Hulsmann Trio: Imprint (ECM/Ode)

Julia Hulsmann Trio: Imprint (ECM/Ode)

While few would deny the gentle beauty of these trio recordings (and, not incidentally, the impressive playing of drummer Heinrich Kobberling), this too often suffers the fate of some similarly-conceived ECM albums: much of it just evaporates before your ears and it is only when applying diligent listening that it gives itself up to you....

Samsom Nacey Haines: Oxide (Rattle Jazz)

Samsom Nacey Haines: Oxide (Rattle Jazz)

Although the names up top -- drummer Ron Samsom, guitarist Dixon Nacey and bassist Kevin Haines -- suggest a spare, piano-less trio, the guests here include guitarist Joel Haines, pianist Kevin Field, singer Chris Melville, Neville Grenfell on fluegelhorn and saxophonist Roger Manins. And these players must have waited all their lives for a...

JOHN PSATHAS INTERVIEWED (2000): Rattle of a complex man

JOHN PSATHAS INTERVIEWED (2000): Rattle of a complex man

After John Psathas won best classical album of 1999 at the New Zealand Music Awards in March, nothing happened. No arts writers called wanting to profile this prolific composer, sales of the album Rhythm Spike on the independent Rattle label didn't jump, and no critics decided to belatedly acknowledge this exceptional album which, on...

Vallon, Moret, Rohrer: Rruga (ECM/Ode)

Vallon, Moret, Rohrer: Rruga (ECM/Ode)

This is ECM piano trio jazz certainly, but young pianist/composer Colin Vallon brings something different and unusual to these 11 pieces, most of which are his originals or by drummer Samuel Rohrer. (There are two by bassist Patrice Moret). It is hard to put your finger on but you might say his playing has the pace, phrasing and emphasis of...

Manos Achalinotopoulos: Flight on Light (Rattle)

Manos Achalinotopoulos: Flight on Light (Rattle)

In the rather fruity liner notes here -- admittedly in translation -- the Greek clarinet player Achalinotopoulos speaks of the ocean of his childhood and how he imagined horizons from above, of here flying into uncharted territories of the unconscious, and of "one clarinet narrating seven stories, each in a continuous stream". And of...

Dave Lisik: The Curse of the Queen's Diamond (Rattle Jazz)

Dave Lisik: The Curse of the Queen's Diamond (Rattle Jazz)

Yet another fine addition to the Rattle Jazz imprint, this beautifully packaged album by Canadian-born, New Zealand-based trumpeter Lisik (and others) explores that profitable margin between chamber jazz and classical music. And in that he has unimpeachable assistance; Amy Rempel is on piano and her improvisations are at the heart here, bass...

Mathias Eick: Skala (ECM/Ode)

Mathias Eick: Skala (ECM/Ode)

As mentioned in a review of one his earlier albums, The Door (here), Norwegian trumpeter Eick has an inclusive approach to his art and has played in many different contexts, from big bands to psychedelic rock groups and in small, introverted jazz outfits. This time out he gets in two drummers (very discreet, you'd hardly know it), electric...

TOMASZ STANKO, LONTANO: Emotion from a distance

TOMASZ STANKO, LONTANO: Emotion from a distance

Rock audiences have a forgivable problem with jazz groups: the membership of jazz outfits can just keep changing. If you like the Arctic Monkeys chances are you can expect the line-up not to change much over the years. Rock bands -- for the most part -- have an enviable stability which they guard jealously. Consider how long it took for...

Tamar McLeod Sinclair: The Heart Notes (TaMartin)

Tamar McLeod Sinclair: The Heart Notes (TaMartin)

No one would accuse this Auckland-born graduate of Wellington's Massey University Conservatorium of Music of lacking ambition. This, her debut, is the result of her internationalism (she has worked in various parts of Europe for over five years) and the songs were written everywhere from Sydney and parts of Italy to Scotland, Switzerland and the...

BRIAN ENO: THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (2011) (Sexy Intellectual/Triton DVD)

BRIAN ENO: THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (2011) (Sexy Intellectual/Triton DVD)

Despite the title here being appropriated from David Bowie, this does seem a fair description of Brian Eno, the self-described "non-musician" who made his name in Roxy Music as the flamboyant synth-twiddler who brought an avant-garde sensibility to a band which might have otherwise simply sounded retro and poopy. Eno's sonic...

The New Fuse Box: The Wakem/Nielson Project (LGW)

The New Fuse Box: The Wakem/Nielson Project (LGW)

A little clarifying chronology here might be useful when teasing out the threads of this Auckland jazz group. As I recall their debut album The Politiks of Jazz (just credited to Fuse Box) arrived in about 2000 and the group consisted of keyboard player Lindsay Wakem (who composed eight of the 10 tracks), guitarist Frans Huysmans, drummer...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Marcin Wasilewski Trio: Faithful (ECM/Ode)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Marcin Wasilewski Trio: Faithful (ECM/Ode)

Pianist Wasilewski who leads this trio has appeared a number of times previously at Elsewhere, with this group, as a member of Tomasz Stanko's ensemble and with trumpetr Enrico Rava. He -- and his trio -- has impressed every time. But this album finds them really pushing themselves: Night Train to You is a 10 minute piece which swings and is...

Konitz, Mehldau, Haden, Motian: Live at Birdland (ECM/Ode)

Konitz, Mehldau, Haden, Motian: Live at Birdland (ECM/Ode)

A 2009 ECM superstar session where Lee, Brad, Charlie and Paul played standards (Lover Man, Lullaby of Birdland, Oleo etc) from which this finely wrought, sensitive selection was drawn. Pianist Mehldau offers exquisite, refined and sometimes dissonant solos which seduce or bring astringency in the turn of phrase. Some of this is so...

Jakszyk, Fripp, Collins: A Scarcity of Miracles (MPL)

Jakszyk, Fripp, Collins: A Scarcity of Miracles (MPL)

With the (almost) complete Pink Floyd catalogue being re-presented shortly, the Moody Blues arriving on our shores and bands like The Mars Volta, Radiohead and Porcupine Tree pushing the boundaries, there seems to be quite a lot of progressive rock, if not exactly old school prog-rock, out there. Of course it never really went away and...

Ricardo Villalobos/Max Loderbauer: Re: ECM (ECM)

Ricardo Villalobos/Max Loderbauer: Re: ECM (ECM)

The usually restrained ECM isn't a risk-averse label -- how well some remember the textural noise of Lask and the guitar abuse of David Torn -- so when they open the vaults for manipulation you know the result will be nothing like the Verve and Blue Note remix albums. Here this Berlin-based electronica duo improvise with pre-existing...

Meredith Monk: Songs of Ascension (ECM New Series)

Meredith Monk: Songs of Ascension (ECM New Series)

Meredith Monk's ethereal vocal music often seems to exist between the chapel and the arthouse, at home being bookended by a choral group and Laurie Anderson. Over the decades her work has extended from its minimalist origins into instrumental works, theatrical productions, opera (Atlas) and film (Book of Days), and yet its spare, skeletal...

RATTLE RECORDS AT 20: Decades of delivering

RATTLE RECORDS AT 20: Decades of delivering

Even producer Steve Garden, one of the prime movers behind Auckland's Rattle label, finds it hard to believe it has been 20 years since their first releases. Now with a catalogue of over 30 albums -- which includes those on their Rattle Jazz imprint -- Rattle is a significant player in New Zealand's musical landscape. It has recently...

Dave Lisik: Donated by Cantor Fitzgerald; A Threnody (Rattle)

Dave Lisik: Donated by Cantor Fitzgerald; A Threnody (Rattle)

If you are reading this in New Zealand on September 11, 2011 -- the 10th anniversary of 9/11 -- Canadian-born, Wellington-based composer Dave Lisik will have performed this evocative, hour-long work in Virginia yesterday for re-broadcast on a New York radio station on the 11th as part of the day-long commemorations there. Recorded...

Dave Lisik and Richard Nunns: Ancient Astronaut Theory (Rattle)

Dave Lisik and Richard Nunns: Ancient Astronaut Theory (Rattle)

Recently it was my great privilege to be asked to write some liner notes for this album on the estimable Rattle label. It is a very special album as you may hear. So rather than relitigate those ideas why don't I simply reproduce the notes here and you can make what you will of it? This is what I wrote . . . We live in a world...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Jonathan Besser: Campursari (Rattle)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2011 Jonathan Besser: Campursari (Rattle)

Since coming to New Zealand more than 30 years ago, the pianist-composer Jonathan Besser has enjoyed a highly successful and diverse career, first with violinist Chris Prosser in the Besser and Prosser duo, with electronic artist Ross Harris in Free Radicals, then his own ensemble and latterly with the small group Bravura. His works have...

DAVE LISIK INTERVIEWED (2011): Ancient, contemporary and to the future

DAVE LISIK INTERVIEWED (2011): Ancient, contemporary and to the future

Even a cursory glance at the website for Canadian-born, American-educated and Wellington-resident composer/musician Dave Lisik is impressive for his work ethic. Aside from noting him being a teacher, trumpeter and theorist, his website lists eight albums under his own name since 2007 and another five where he was producer/director of...

Motian/Lovano/Frisell; Time and Time Again (2007)

Motian/Lovano/Frisell; Time and Time Again (2007)

Because jazz is -- as the critic Leonard Feather noted in the closing overs of the last millennium -- the classical music of the 20th century, in it you can hear the human condition reflected. Or in other words, each generation creates the jazz it requires. In the post-war period things adopted a cooler and more sophisticated mood (less...

Keith Jarrett Trio, My Foolish Heart (2007)

Keith Jarrett Trio, My Foolish Heart (2007)

Most people who know his music don't come to albums by jazz and Elsewhere pianist Keith Jarrett expecting to snap their fingers, smile at the swinging grooves and generally enjoy the good humour on display. Jarrett is usually a furrowed-brow listen, or in an instructively meditative mood. His emotionally dense, improvised solo piano work...

Anouar Brahem: Le Voyage de Sahar (ECM/Ode)

Anouar Brahem: Le Voyage de Sahar (ECM/Ode)

Tunisian Brahem who plays oud --- like a slack-string lute -- steers another fine album under his own name on ECM, a label with a reputation for meticulously produced if sometime emotionally distant music. Here with pianist Francois Couturier and accordionist Jean-Louis Matinier these exotic and evocative pieces conjure up cool nights --...

Thomas Demenga: Chonguri (ECM/Ode)

Thomas Demenga: Chonguri (ECM/Ode)

This might seem an unusual choice for Music From Elsewhere -- classical music on violoncello with piano and accordion accompaniment. But Demenga's catalogue is impressive and his '94 duet album with his brother Patrick, 12 Hommages a Paul Sacher, has never been far from my stereo on quiet nights. His on-going series where he alternates...

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