I am thrilled to announce that my book, Between Sound and Space: An ECM Records Primer, is at last available on Amazon! Those of you who have followed me for any portion of this journey know how much love, time, and care I’ve put into this project, and I hope the book, like the blog after which it was named, will lead listeners to many discoveries and hidden gems in the label’s ever-deepening catalogue. Click on the cover below to order yours while they last, and thank you, as always, for reading.
Interview with Phil Freeman
I recently conducted an interview with music critic and author Phil Freeman for All About Jazz. Freeman has some of the sharpest ears out there—and a way with words to hone them. Interested readers shouldn’t hesitate to pick up his latest book, Ugly Beauty, which hit shelves last year. Click on the cover below to read some of my thoughts on the book and our conversation about it.
First Review of My Book
The first review of my book, Between Sound and Space: An ECM Records Primer, is available over at JazzViews. Click the cover below to read on.
Keith Jarrett: A Biography
The late Ian Carr’s Keith Jarrett: The Man and His Music long stood as the most complete portrait of its subject, who turns 76 this month. Being a product of 1991, however, the book begged a companion this side of the second millennium. In 2015, German music editor and biographer Wolfgang Sandner answered that call. Five years later, Jarrett’s youngest brother Chris, who lives and teaches in Germany, offered this superbly rendered, expanded and updated translation into English. The result, Keith Jarrett: A Biography, retreads some of the pianist’s formative milestones while stringing through them artful observations, interpretations and connections.
We find ourselves transported back to Jarrett’s upbringing in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where Sandner credits Jarrett’s mother for not putting her son on the pedestal that has separated so many young prodigies from the possibility of a normal childhood. This may be one reason why his genius was able to flourish so organically—untainted by the bane of expectation, he built a career on transcending it.
We sit in the audience during his first solo recital at the age of seven—a mélange of classical and original compositions—waiting for the moment when jazz will enter the soundtrack of his past. We cling to the wall like proverbial flies as, in a mere five-year span, he joins forces with Art Blakey, Charles Lloyd and Miles Davis. Jarrett’s tenure with the latter, who convinces him to join after multiple overtures, goes largely unrecorded and survives only through anecdote. By the time Jarrett parts ways with the Miles, it’s 1971, just two years after the founding of ECM Records by producer Manfred Eicher, with whom Jarrett will forge a lasting relationship. Said relationship yields albums—80 between 1971-2020—that were made to exist, just as they exist to have documented a pianist who “had not really become a soloist—he had actually always been one” (pg. 88).
Jarrett’s “musical syntax” is as recognizable as it is challenging to distill in words. Whether in his traversals of the Great American Songbook with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette or his recording of J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier (of which he characteristically remarked, “I was actually refusing more than I was giving”), the mosaic we think we know has revealed tile after unprecedented tile.
All of which serves to validate Sandner’s decision to view jazz through a hypermodern lens, framing its latter-day developments as a recalibration of space among the rubble of the Second World War. And there, in the middle of it all, Jarrett spans the ocean like a bridge between the forward march of Americanism and the traumatic retrogression of the continent. This may be why Sandner concedes in his foreword: “Most of all, though, this music should be heard.” For a musician of Jarrett’s caliber, the best biography remains the discography.
(This article originally appeared in the May 2021 issue of The New York City Jazz Record, a full PDF of which is available here.)
New Book of Interest!
For those who have an interest in the legalities of the popular music industry, look no further than this indispensible book on the Music Modernization Act (MMA), one of the most important pieces of copyright legislation to be passed in the last century. I was honored to serve as editor for this project, which I saw from inception to completion, and know the author, E. Maxwell, to be unparalleled in his passion for making the MMA palatable to lay audiences. In these times of social isolation, when the very concept of live performance has been drastically altered, it’s more imperative than ever to fight for what songwriters are owed in light of all the behind-the-scenes efforts they put into creating music that defines culture and history while marking time like breadcrumbs along a trail.
The book may be ordered directly from Amazon here.
ECM Book Playlist: Now on TIDAL
Many thanks to longtime reader Jamie for making a TIDAL version of the playlist associated with my new book, Between Sound and Space: An ECM Records Primer. Click the logo below to be taken directly to the playlist. And don’t forget to pick up a copy of the book, now available from the publisher’s website here.
Book Playlist on Spotify
For those of you with Spotify, my editor and I have compiled a playlist to accompany every review in my new book, Between Sound and Space: An ECM Records Primer. Click here to access it.
ECM Book Now Available Worldwide!
I am thrilled to announce that my book, Between Sound and Space: An ECM Records Primer, is now officially available for purchase!
Colombian publisher Rey Naranjo and I spent years putting this together, and we truly believe it will enrich the experiences of all ECM listeners. Get yours now while you can, as it is destined to become a collector’s item.
Click the picture below to be redirected to the publisher’s website, where you’ll find more information, including a book trailer, and a link to order via PayPal. The price is set at $40, which includes shipping to anywhere in the world.
Looking forward to your thoughts on this labor of love.