ECM Book Giveaway Contest


Because it will be some time before my book goes international (it is currently only available in South America), I have decided to hold a giveaway contest for you, my dedicated readers. To be entered, simply comment on this post by telling me about one of your favorite ECM albums and why. The contest will close at 11:59pm one week from now, on June 26, at which time I will pick three winners at random to receive a signed copy of the book. Don’t worry if you can’t narrow down to one album. Feel free to write about a favorite artist or handful of albums that have had some influence on you. Anything will qualify you as being entered into the contest. Looking forward to what you write!

45 thoughts on “ECM Book Giveaway Contest

  1. This is such a difficult question to answer, but after pondering through the years of joy given to my mind and ears from listens to so much of the catalog (many of them many, many times), it has to be Lontano by Tomasz Stanko and his brilliant Polish accompanists. The moods it creates – haunting, dark, yearning, joy, heartbreak, tenderness – are authentic and consistent and have become personal. It is the recording that my wife and I choose most often to accompany our weekend mornings, lingering over coffee, breakfast, a newspaper, a crossword. The passing of Tomasz this year affirms my choice…we’ve lost a giant, a legend, a superb artist.

  2. It is very hard to choose one, however, my personal favorite is Made in Chicago by Jack Dejohnette with Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill and Larry Gray. It is an amazing album with some of the most creative musicians ever, a sort of an avant garde supergroup. However, it holds a very special place in my heart as I saw this group perform in promotion of this album the day I proposed to my wife.

  3. My first thought is Pat Metheny’s “Bright Size Life.” It’s one of my earliest ECM purchases–an import, because ECM didn’t have a U.S. distributor yet–and my first introduction to Metheny’s playing and composing. Not to mention some terrific Jaco Pastorius bass playing!

  4. A favourite ECM album? I have been listening to ECM since I was much (much) younger – in fact, I still have the 2nd and 3rd released ECM albums in their original vinyl forms that I’ve had since they were released, along with many more. So picking a favourite is no easy task. The ethereal beauty of Jon Hassell’s ‘Last Night The Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes In The Street’ competes with the more muscular beauty of Jon Balke’s ‘Magnetic Works 1993-2001’ and the joyous beauty of Chick Corea and Gary Burton’s ‘Crystal Silence’ and the ringing beauty of Ralph Towner’s ‘Solstice/Sound and Shadows’ and so many, many more. But there is one album I always return to. One album that has stayed a true favourite since it was released. That album is ‘Little Movements’ by the great Eberhard Weber. Like so many ECM albums it works like a suite, creating its own spell on the listener. It has moments of great lyrical beauty balanced by driving rhythms and the players – Charlie Mariano, Rainer Bruninghaus, John Marshall and Mr Weber himself – are all in top form, and have created together a masterpiece. I was also lucky enough many years ago to see this ensemble live and the night is burned into my memory. Glorious!

    1. I have the Jon Hassell album. it’s really good….and i also have all his recordings. being such a big fan.
      I first heard him playing on the ‘Brilliant Trees’ album by David Sylvian. I was hooked instantly.

  5. My personal favourite is „The Sea“ (ECM 1545) by Norwegian pianist Ketil Bjørnstad. I must say it is my biggest influence. Like album that I’ve mentioned, everything about Ketil, a true comprehensive artist, is fascinating. His sense, breadth, calmness, perfect simplicity and minimalism, the way of thinking and the perception of art. He and the album itself is the real example that less is more. Everything is fluent, it overruns, you feel the fiord, the north, you feel the silence and then you appreciate the sound even more.

  6. Hello Tyran.
    Congrats on the book. I’ve been reading these reviews since you started pretty much.
    Picking a favorite album from my favorite label is a hard task indeed, and I still am waiting for ECM to re-release on CD some albums that have never seen the digital world yet, like Tom Van Der Geld’s “Path”.
    Man, this is such a hard choice to make that I could easily give you a different answer every single day for months.
    I think for now (today at least) i’ll have to go with John Abercrombie’s all-solo “Characters” album though I regret not listing many others by the likes of Eberhard Weber, Barre Phillips, Ralph Towner, and Terje Rypdal, ect….

    1. P.S. I forgot to mention ‘Why’. Well my very favorite type of album in general is the all-solo disc where one musician plays all the parts himself and ECM has done some classics in this area, especially in the 1970’s to very early 1980’s. But I just love the atmosphere and very ‘internal’ intimate vibe of ‘Characters’’s certainly NOT a ‘party’ album! Very introverted, beautiful, with wonderful subtle colors that comes from various combinations of only 3 stringed instruments..

  7. Surprisingly, not a difficult question! My favourite is the first I ever bought: Jan Garbarek & the Hilliard Ensemble’s “Officium”. My wife and I had heard a single track on a classical sampler CD given away free with a magazine and straightaway went out and bought the album.

    What an introduction to the ECM world, to an artist of whom we’ve become great fans and to a vocal group we have also seen many times!

    When I think what that chance sampler track has led to: hearing the ensemble in the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, with the Hilliards singing on the altar while Garbarek wandered around the chapel, showing off the wonderful late medieval acoustics. Or recognising the Hilliards at another table in an Indonesian restaurant in Amsterdam, saying hello, and then discovering why they were there – so that we went to a performance of a very modern opera – “Gesualdo Considered as a Murderer” sung in Italian with Dutch surtitles in a disused warehouse in the docklands of the city – part of the avant-garde Holland Festival. Or seeing Garbarek several times at the Royal Festival Hall, London, with his usual group yet each time different.

    For ECM itself, that sampler track led us to buy many ECM recordings and see many other artists: Tord Gustavsen (funnily enough the first time was also in a warehouse, in Birmingham), Gian-Luigi Trovesi in a small art gallery in Cambridge, and earlier this year Anouar Brahem at the Barbican in London. To select just a few.

    So, since rushing out to buy a copy of “Officium” our musical appreciation has developed in so many unexpected ways!

  8. Hi Tyran,

    My favourite ECM album is the “Selected Signs III-VIII”

    My first exposure to the depth and breadth of ECM recordings.

    A close second though would be Chris Potter’s “Imaginary Cities”, continually absorbing and uplifting.


  9. I like most of the music ECM has issued but I find myself often returning to “Of Mist and Melting”, the second album by American guitarist Bill Connors, recorded in 1977. The entire album is amazing, establishes a haunting atmosphere from the start and features four of the greatest ECM artists: Bill Connors, Jan Garbarek, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette. All six tracks are memorable with these wonderful musicians playing with virtuosity and empathy that is spellbinding. A classic ECM recording!

  10. Hard to narrow it down, but I would probably say Alina by Arvo Pärt. It’s like music distilled to it’s essence. The beauty and purity are what drew me to ECM in the first place. It’s been quite a journey!

    I guess my favourite ECM album could be the first PAT METHENY GROUP, but it is a tough one…
    “Survivor’s Suite” is hard to beat in my book, as is “Magico” and so on…
    Cheers DD

  12. Congrats on the book. It would be difficult to pick a favorite ECM album. So many fine ones to choose from. For me it’s more like favorite artists whether Nik Bärtsch and his associated projects or Pat Metheny, Charles Lloyd, Anouar Brahem or Jan Garbarek. But since I have to choose a favorite album I’ll go with my current fave which I’ve been listening to since it’s release, three years ago: CONTINUUM by Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile. This album resonates with me on so many levels and I hear something different each time I listen, so I guess I’m still exploring the many facets of this diamond. And that is what ECM has always done – it has enriched my love for music by providing music worth exploring.

    Take care. Peace.

  13. How can I even start to choose a title from a music label that has enriched my life for so long?….

    For me the hallmark of ECM is the sharing of cross-cultural awareness in a way which is timeless, enriching and respectful. ANOUAR BRAHEM’s albums capture that aspect of ECM in a way which really characterises the best of what the label is all about.

    If i was to choose one album from Anouar’s magnificent work I would choose THIMAR, the album he recorded with John Surman (soprano sax, bass clarinet) and Dave Holland (double bass). Released in 1998, THIMAR really created a nuanced approach to combining jazz with traditional Arab classical music. Anouar’s oud playing is just superb and the whole is recorded perfectly.

    I could go on and on with brilliant ECM titles but this one has really stood out in my memory and continues to be a joy to explore…..

  14. it will be a John Abercrombie album. Difficult to pick up one in particular, because of the plethora he recorded over the years for this label.
    But my fave one should be November. First for the cover pic, depicting so well the overall mood of this album : bleak, dark. Because of the involvement of Marc Johnson and Peter Erskine, one of the best « jazz backing band » ever (if backing band means something…). And obviously, for John Abercrombie, its fabulous sound and sense of improvisation, and for its compositional skills as well.
    My ECM fave album ever!

  15. Yes congrats on the book….but unfortunately an impossible question to answer for me …since I first started listening to ECM from the time they were first released in the United States I have so many hundreds of hundreds of vinyl Editions maybe the question should have been your favorite 25 ECM.. and even that would have been a stretch given the roster of artist…. so many beautiful beautiful discs of music I know I won’t win the book but for me a totally impossible question to answer.

  16. MAGICO (1979) by Haden, Gismonti, Gabarek, has somehow become fixed memory of my very first encounter to the ECM catalogue and later the wonderful music of Egberto Gismonti. I heard it at first at student party in copenhagen (15 years later than its release), and never forgot the moment and conversations.

  17. Hi Tyran, you must have had a gut-wrenching guffaw posting that question. Boil the whole of the label down to one and one only? Preposterous.

    And challenging — but fun. I propose Ralph Towner’s Solstice (ECM 1060), and for a lot of reasons.

    It’s a Towner led ensemble. Ralph’s career is largely expressed through ECM, from the early ’70’s onward. He is a magnificent composer (emblematic of the label), gutarist without parallel (also emblematic), and distinctive pianist (again, you get the idea).

    Ralph’s mates are also label stalwarts who have gone on to appear on many ECM recordings under their own names (Jon excepted) and as guests. Just think of what each player has meant to the label: Eberhard Weber, Jan Garbarek and Jon Christensen.

    I do not know if these players were recruited personally by Ralph, or at Manfred’s suggestion. If the former, ECM 1060 scores points for exemplifying Manfred’s commitment to artistic freedom; if the latter, it’s a superb example of Manfred demonstrating his talent for pairing musicians effectively.

    Arne Bendiksen Studio, Oslo; Jan Erik Kongshaug. Produced by Manfred (needless to say).

    To quote one reviewer, “This is arguably the first recording to fully flesh out the aural expanse for which ECM has come to be known. Although I am well aware of the immense groundswell of musical activity that was the 1970s, certainly an album like this was a refreshing and altogether mind-altering experience for those fortunate enough to be young musical explorers at the time. Featuring a lineup of musicians who would go on to weave ECM’s significance into the fabric of time, Solstice is a tour de force of musicianship, writing, arrangement, and recording.”

    This review never lets up in its praise. See for yourselves:

  18. T
    Personal Mountains.
    Travels second.
    These are what began the journey for me. 40- years later you make this journey new again. Thank you. I can’t wait for the book, even if I have to buy it 🙂

  19. Hi Tyran! I love a sweepstakes. My faves would be Axum, by flutist James Newton…for the best example of the word “sonority” imagineable. I would teach this album in any class on jazz writing because it presents space as a sound. Also, James is a solid gold human being. That said, I do not teach. But I know how to learn. One day.

    Second, let’s say Theo Bleckmann’s Elegy. It’s just highly listenable and I enjoy his audacity. He really takes his voice where he wants to go (not as a gymnastics routine, but as a traveler), and I’ve always admired his bold vocal positioning. He also has this brilliant way of un-gendering his timbre and I am inspired by that. Vocal unfettering that’s still highly stylistic. He knows the rules he wants to follow, the histories, the politics attached—all in a good way.

    Third, I’d say I am a big fan of Frisell/Motion/Lovano’s Time & Tine Again. IDK I think when I met them they were the coolest people imaginable—and sweet to my kids. I really think about that when I hear a player: can they look my kid in the eye? Lol!!! But also GOD is in their playing and they just feel their way down this dark hallway of standards together (my favorite songs on the record) and so there’s no upbeat / no downbeat half the time. When are they going to get there? When they get there. That’s the answer, every phrase. I like that you can hear them listening, like the song could unravel apart any minute, or fall off the bone like braised meat, but they are so in tune in the moment and that’s what’s happening. The moment. And a chart, I guess. But I don’t hear the charts, just the listening. Sometimes when I am learning a song, that’s when I get the tone I really like. Once you rehearse some things too much, they can slip away from you. This album just sits with you.

    Ok. I want that book!
    (Congrats by the way. Extraordinary.)

  20. Dear Tyran,

    Perhaps it should have been the first, which I’m almost sure would have been the cassette edition of Metheny’s “80/81”, propped up along the windowsill of an inner city bedroom along with a handful of other tapes – “New Gold Dream”, “Dark Side of the Moon”, “Still Life (Talking)”…other predictable suspects. A teen immigrant’s small audio library of solace from/through solitude.

    Maybe it ought to be my most personally treasured: the vinyl of Barre Phillips’ “Call Me When You Get There”. Or else the one that feels most like a ‘Desert Island’ disc, Bill Connors’ “Swimming With a Hole in My Body”. Because in middle age, I somehow know already that the melancholy density of the album’s eight songs will make them firm companions of an infirm old age.

    Statistically, in terms of having given me the greatest number of arresting epiphanies of the heart over the years, it would have to be – any of those featuring the cry of Jan Garbarek’s sax, at its rawest and truest. Peacock’s “Voice from the past – PARADIGM”, Wheeler’s “Deer Wan”, or his own “Witchi-Tai-To”, or Jarrett’s “Personal Mountains”.

    But I think I should go with the one that feels closest to…whatever that ineffable ECM essence is, which Herr Eicher and his people have so tenaciously, vigorously, wholeheartedly pursued and preserved to tape, for all our common good, for half a century. Danke schön.

    So it’s Eberhard Weber’s “Yellow Fields” from 1975. Life-affirming, cinematic, endlessly suggestive Jazz for the XXXI Century (come on!), yet utterly of its time; the best aural distillation of the 1970s I know. The analogue opulence of Rainer Bruninghaus’ synth string washes: textures the like of which, as Richard Cook portentously noted in his first Penguin Guide, “will probably never be heard on record again”. Jon Christensen’ peerless groove and cymbal accents; a pocketful of European sound-dreams sprung from the incandescent heart of Afroamericans’ quest for justice, through music. Charlie Mariano’s sax and shenai, “heartbreakingly intense” and “piercingly exotic” (Cook again). Weber’s bass and compositions. Danke schön, Herr W. And thank you Tyran Grillo for giving the rest of us, who can’t play but love to listen, a voice. Here’s to your next half century, ECM.

  21. ‘Various ‎– Music For The Film Sounds And Silence ECM’

    with track 4. ‘Nik Bärtsch Modul 42’ being my favorite track on the album.

    it’s very difficult to choose only one album, because i have so many and so many i like…

    …but this album is brilliant, and every track fits with each other track, so you can sit back a really listen, without getting distracted by a random track that doesn’t fit.

  22. Good question Tyran!
    For me the album would be Suspended Night – Tomasz Stanko Quartet, it is difficult to put into words what this album, or much of the ECM catalogue, means to me (which is why I would like to read your book!) … Suspended Night (and much of the ECM catalogue) connects me with a timelessness beyond the zeitgeist, a mystic river… a new sense of space and light…

    1. Hello, Hamish! You are one of the giveaway winners, so please contact me as soon as possible with your address. Feel free to look me up by name on Facebook to connect 🙂

  23. Tyran. Congrats on the book. Can’t wait to read it.

    One of my favorite ECM releases is Conference of the Birds by the Dave Holland Quartet. To my ears it is the epitome of synergistic improvisation of the highest order. This particular unit … minus Sam Rivers … would go on to showcase brilliant improvisational music with subsequent releases on the HatHut and Arista labels. This title remains essential listening and offers timeless delight some 45 plus years after its release.

  24. No doubt, “The Koln Concert” by Jarrett: right place, right time, right first time … an absolute masterpiece!
    And a tribute to the first ECM record I had the pleasure to listen to, “Standards in Norway”, which in my opinion ranks among the best of the Trio..
    Other two great artists that I enjoy so much are Anouar Brahem (expecially “The Astounding Eyes of Rita”) and Dave Holland’s (“Prime Directive” as the best)… so at the second place I’ll place the recent and sooo beautiful “Blue Maqams” (stellar cast here and great interplay..)
    Third place would be a tie between Michel Benita’s “River Silver” and Thomas Stronen’s “Time Is A Blind Guide”..

  25. I’ll put in a plug for Ralph Towner’s “Blue Sun”. It may not be among the very best ECM albums, but I believe RT plays all the instruments…which just blows me away. And sonically, it sounds like a live take, not a bunch of overdubs.

  26. It is, of course, a trick question: there is no single favourite ECM album! So I will select something that opened new experiences for me, “As Ney”, by Cyminology. Beautiful vocals, and creative, delicate accompaniment.

  27. I concur with may other posts that choosing the favourite ECM album is nigh on impossible. There is such a wealth of great music and performances to choose from and different times and moods would result in different choices. So my choice of a favourite ECM album is in terms of most significance to me. On that basis, while it may well appear a predictable choice to many, it has to be Keith Jarrett’s “The Koln Concert”. The simple reason is that it was the stone dropped into a pond whose ripples have continued to spread every since.

    My exploration of the ECM world started with this album. At the time in 1975 I was mainly listening to “progressive rock”, and had ventured further afield a little with some “jazz-rock” in the shape of Weather Report and The Mahavishnu Orchestra. A brief review of “The Koln Concert” in, of all places, The New Musical Express caught my eye and prompted me to seek out the album at my local record store. I can recall first hearing a part of this album in one of the “listening booths” in the store, after which I bought it.

    Over the next few years I followed the threads to an ever widening body of music: other solo albums by the Keith Jarrett, albums featuring Keith Jarrett and other musicians, and albums from those other musicians. Eventually, I noticed the common element across much of what I was listening to – that it was all appearing on the ECM label. Since then, over the succeeding decades, I have followed these links to many types of music and artists that I may never have discovered without that initial stone dropped into the pond. If I stop to consider how much pleasure and enjoyment this has given, and continues to give, me then for me it has to be this starting point.

  28. Many congratulations on the book Tyran

    After much deliberation I eventually got it down to 12 favourites (listed at the end) but one that really stands out for me is Paul Motian’s ‘Le Voyage’. The record is full of strong compositions and the interaction of Motian with Jenny-Clark and Charles Brackeen is beautiful. We all know about superb ECM recording and production of course, but on the original vinyl this is also one of the best sounding records I have ever heard. The sound of the bass in particular!

    As for the rest. Today they are:

    Paul Bley – Open, To Love ; Dave Holland – Conference of the Birds; Gary Burton w/ Eberhard Weber – Passengers; Kenny Wheeler – Widow in the Window; John Abercrombie – Timeless; Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan – Epistrophy; Terje Rypdal/Miroslav Vitous/Jack DeJohnette; Tomasz Stanko – Litania; Bobo Stenson Trio – Serenity – plus two more Motians; I Have the Room Above Her; Lost in a Dream

    And that’s leaving out Enrico Rava, the Art Ensemble, Evan Parker, Pat Metheny, Rainer Bruninghaus, Codona ….

    I didn’t even got on to thinking about the New Series but to choose one example among many that combines superb playing and a great programme: Tre Voci – Takemitsu/Debussy/Gubaidulina

  29. [Hi Tyran – I’m re-submitting this, thought I had last week but maybe I didn’t refresh the page correctly?]

    Dear Tyran,

    Perhaps it should have been the first. I’m almost sure that would be the cassette edition of Metheny’s “80/81”, propped up along the windowsill of an inner city bedroom along with a handful of other tapes – “New Gold Dream”, “Dark Side of the Moon”, “Still Life (Talking)”, other predictable suspects. A teen immigrant’s small audio library of solace from/through solitude.

    Maybe it ought to be my most personally treasured: the vinyl of Barre Phillips’ “Call Me When You Get There”. Or else the one that feels most like a ‘Desert Island’ disc, Bill Connors’ “Swimming With a Hole in My Body”. Because in middle age, I somehow know already that the melancholy density of the album’s eight songs will make them firm companions of an infirm old age.

    Statistically, in terms of having given me the greatest number of arresting epiphanies of the heart, it would have to be…any of those featuring the cry of Jan Garbarek’s sax, at its rawest and truest. Peacock’s “Voice from the past – PARADIGM”, Wheeler’s “Deer Wan”, or his own “Witchi-Tai-To”, or Jarrett’s “Personal Mountains”.

    But I think I should go with the one that feels closest to that ineffable ECM essence, which Herr Eicher and his people have so tenaciously, wholeheartedly pursued and committed to tape for half a century, for our common good. Danke schön.

    So it’s going to be Eberhard Weber’s “Yellow Fields” from 1975. Life-affirming, cinematic, endlessly suggestive Jazz for the XXXI Century (come on!) yet utterly of its time. The best instrumental distillation of the 1970s I know.

    The warm analogue moodiness of Rainer Bruninghaus’ synths: textures the like of which, as Richard Cook portentously noted in his first Penguin Guide, may “never be heard on record again”. Jon Christensen’ peerless groove and cymbal accents; a pocketful of European sound-dreams sprung from the incandescent heart of Afroamericans’ quest for justice, through music. Charlie Mariano’s (Cook again) “heartbreakingly intense” sax and “piercingly exotic” shenai. Weber’s sinuous, eldritch bass – and compositions. Danke schön, Herr W. And thank you Tyran Grillo for giving the rest of us, who can’t play but love to listen, a voice. Here’s to your next half century, ECM.

  30. It was 1981 and I was returning from visiting a friend who was studying at UCONN in Connecticut. Another friend and I were preparing for our journey home in my 1970 VW Bug when we decided to stop by the local record store in downtown Storr before heading out. As we entered I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking for but was immediately drawn to the Jazz section. My interest in Jazz really had just begun a few years earlier while a High School Senior. My first jazz record was in fact the album,Pat Metheny Group,1978. After hearing that album being played in my local record store there was an immediate connection to what I heard and felt. So while rifling through the Jazz cassette tapes to find the perfect soundtrack for our journey home I came across Bright Size Life, 1976 also by Metheny. Without actually listening to the tape I was immediately drawn to the title and cover artwork and then realized it was the same label as my first Pat Metheny album purchased years earlier. It was at that moment I began to understand the connection between the graphic elements of cover art and the outstanding musicians I would soon discover that make up the ECM label. And so that drive back along with Metheny,Pastorious and Moses I attribute to the beginning of a lifelong relationship with ECM Records that continues to grow and inspire me so many years later.
    —Rob Sherrill

  31. I was just starting my university education in 1982 when a good friend said he just picked up this LP from an amazing guitarist we never heard of named Pat Metheny. It was ECM 1216 “Offramp” with his group and it was playing on the record store’s speaker for new arrivals. He said it was JAZZ and I was very sure I would hate it.

    At the time, we were listening to nothing but rock…heavy stuff like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, etc. When my friend came over to my house and put the LP on, we sat there in a TRANCE…BLOWN AWAY….jaw on-the-floor…and that not only began my love affair with Pat and all things ECM, but with jazz in general. We never looked back to rock again…it was jazz full steam ahead!

    We played that album OVER and OVER and OVER until we wore it out and bought it again! So that first ECM album literally changed my life overnight! The music I played and listened to was in a new direction that I now collected over 500 ECM records to date and is still my favorite album of ALL TIME!

    My favorite song that really grabbed me from “Offramp” is “Are You Going With Me?”….this was a apt title as it really surrounds my life, friends, spouse, with a musical mantra of sorts. Pat plays it at every show as an encore…I knew there was a reason it touched me so deeply! My spouse knows to play it at my passing…surrounded by all the friends I have made listening to jazz/ECM over the years. I still have many more ECMs to listen to…the joy and happiness ECM has brought to my life is immeasurable…thanks Manfred!

    Marc Andren
    P.S. Congrats on your “labor of love” Tyran!

  32. Having listened to ECM albums (on wonderful vinyl first, of course) since the mid 1970s it’s rather a challenge to select just one album. My earliest purchases were Towner, Jarrett, Metheny and Garbarek. I am initially tempted to select Ralph Towner’s ‘Blue Sun’, but I see that Noam B has already done this above. It’s a beautiful set of recordings, especially ‘Wedding Of The Streams’. Ralph signed a copy of my CD version (how many of us must have both treasured vinyl and CD copies!) at a Borders bookstore gig here in Brighton (UK) many years ago.
    So my revered selection of one title will have to be ‘Old Friend, New Friends’. I could listen to ‘Beneath An Evening Sky’ forever. The LP was given to me as a birthday gift in 1981 by a former art college friend (he had heard my Oregon cassettes) – I was just 25 and still immersed in Tull, Zeppelin, Crimson and Yes. From here on I did more than merely dabble in ECM as I had done for a few years. This album also introduced me the the great Kenny Wheeler (RIP).
    I would imagine that many of us ECM aficionados will love certain albums for the context within which we first heard and experienced them, as well as great composition and musicianship. ‘Old Friends, New Friends’ transported me from being an occasional ECM fan into a healthily obsessive listener! It also accompanied me into adulthood and a new life of independence as a fine art graduate.
    I’m 62 now and I am listening to ECM most days. So, thank you Manfred Eicher.

    Note: As I find in the CD copy of “Old Friends…’ there is a receipt from HMV 5th Avenue, New York for 17.99 dollars from February 2nd 2001. By the end of that painful year the world will be a different place. Another context…

    Geoff Hands

  33. The ECM record that saved my life
    mt velasco

    My favorite ECM title…”favorite” is a wiggly word when applying a little discernment. Especially since the field of possibilities is one with history. & ECM & I have a history. In the fall of 1989, as a college freshman, a music-friend in the dorms played Metheny’s “80/81” for me. Before that moment, “jazz” for me was the Brubeck & Peterson records in my father’s collection. That stuff was cool…i liked it…but none of it took control of and expanded my mind the way “Two Folk Songs” did on that first listen.

    That event changed everything. I went hard into listening and learning about music…moved to NYC after graduating to have access to more music…eventually became a musician….all the while compiling a list of “favorite” ECM records…Dave Holland – ”Conference of the Birds”, AEC – “Nice Guys”, Gavin Bryars – “Vita Nova” & “After the Requiem”, Anthony Braxton & Co. “CIRCLE”, Paul Motian – “TRIBUTE”, The Gateway records by Abercrombie, Holland & DeJohnette…”DeJohnette” – now we’re onto something….

    At the turn of the new millennium I was enthusiastically playing, learning and living music in NYC when I was stricken by my own personal Y2K doomsday scenario. I began experiencing severe pain, stiffness and loss of motion in my right hand. Over the following two years and a series of doctors, treatments, needles, massages, pressure points & tears my practice as a musician diminished & dimmed progressively. I couldn’t hold my instrument for longer than five minutes. Couldn’t engage in any fine, repetitive movement with my right hand…”movement” – let’s remember that….

    That experience was really heartbreaking. I had invested most of my mind & time into music and a tiny, swollen tendon brought it all to a halt. I was swept away by the momentum of those circumstances…moved to Vermont…lived in India for years…resettled in Colorado. All the while serious musical engagement left in the smoldering past. I mostly listened to rock & pop & funk & r&b during that time. Nothing at all wrong with those musics, but they were not the sound & space of my past personal musical practice. Actually, it was the distracting, fun nature of that music that was serving me well during that period. I was reliving a lot of music I heard as a kid. The disappointment of losing my music practice was so painful that I honestly couldn’t look at music for too long or too deeply for 15 years.

    Then, in the summer of 2017 a friend, who knew of my past interests, handed me a CD-R with “DeJohnette – In Movement” scrawled on its face. I had a 45 minute drive down out of the mountains ahead of me so I loaded the disc and headed home. I listened, half distracted by thoughts, half lulled by present, lazy listening habits, but somehow the inspired play penetrated that fog & touched in on the neglected & vulnerable musician that I am. At the conclusion of track 3, “Two Jimmys”, I lifted my head from that fog of many years. Even though it didn’t have my complete attention, those opening tracks managed to make me listen…they had some transformative power of their own to wake a sleeping domain of my brain. I started the record from the beginning and listened in earnest.

    I have been listening in earnest since then. Although no longer a serious practicing musician, I’ve learned that listening is far from a passive activity. My collection & appreciation of ECM titles, both old & new, has grown considerably. Among my recent “favorites”…Vijay Iyer’s Trio & Sextet titles, Anouar Brahem – “Blue Maquams”, Andrew Cyrill – “The Declaration of Musical Independence” & “Labroba”, Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan – “Small Town”. ECM, over the past 50 years, has produced so much elevated & relevant music that I will spend the rest of my life finding favorites I never knew I had and cherishing those already with me.

    Thanks for this blog resource. Its the perfect companion for a particular kind of listener.

  34. “Tabula Rasa” (1984)

    This has to be it for me, one that I have bought in every format and edition since the LP in 1984. It has the legendary story of Manfred Eicher first hearing Pärt via a distant radio signal while travelling in his car, and the tracking down of the performance afterwards. This was the album I was waiting for ever since first hearing “Cantus” live in 1981 conducted by Neeme Järvi with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Massey Hall, with Pärt in attendance. It has the added ECM cred of a guest appearance by Keith Jarrett on the violin/piano arrangement of “Fratres”. It has the fastest “Cantus” on record with Dennis Russell Davies at 5’00” (making some later 8 or 9 minute versions sound like dirges). It has a performance of the basic “Fratres” piece by the Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic. And it has the final magic of the Tabula Rasa – Silentium which has been hard to duplicate elsewhere in the dozen or so later recordings. And it has the mysterious fault of the music stand falling over at a key silent moment towards the end (something which has curiously never been edited out in all of the subsequent reissues). That last fault does somewhat prevent the complete tranportive experience that was described by a concert-goer at the Estonian premiere, but such is the mystery of music that cannot be recaptured, as Eric Dolphy once said..

    “I don’t remember anything about what was around me, I can only say that when that sound which became increasingly quieter and quieter and quieter as it faded away… That was it… that was where we were being transported to. And then, when you could no longer understand whether there was still any sound to be heard or not heard, the difference between them disappeared. Then suddenly, I had to grasp firmly onto my chair as i had this sensation that this final sound was going to lift me into the air and take me away.” – translated from a radio interview with an Estonian concert goer at the Tabula Rasa premiere in 1977

  35. As a high school student and aspiring guitarist in the mid-1980s, I think I’d have to go with two guitar-centric albums I got back then that really got me started down the ECM road, so to speak: Pat Metheny Group’s Travels and Steve Tibbetts’ Safe Journey, appropriately enough. Since Travels was the first ECM record I bought, it has a special place in my library; the first track on Safe Journey was such an exciting jolt after Northern Song—don’t get me wrong, I love Northern Song—that I was instantly captivated and had to hear more. Thanks for your efforts with this resource!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s