ECM by the Decades: Fourth Installment Tonight

Join me and host Andrew Castillo yet again tonight (May 7) on WKCR’s Jazz Alternatives program, from 6-9pm EST. We’re continuing where we left off, moving on to a selection of personal ECM catalog favorites from the 2000s. Click the logo below to be directed to the WKCR website, where you may stream us live by clicking the “LISTEN” icon on the top-right corner of the screen. As always, if you’re unable to tune in, we’ll be archiving the program here for future streaming and downloads.

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Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin: Awase (ECM 2603)

Awase

Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin
Awase

Nik Bärtsch piano
Sha bass clarinet, alto saxophone
Thomy Jordi bass
Kaspar Rast drums
Recorded October 2017, Studios La Buissonne, Pernes-les-Fontaines
Engineers: Gérard de Haro and Nicolas Baillard
Produced by Manfred Eicher
U.S. release date: May 4, 2018

The booklet for Awase, Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch’s latest release with his band of Ronin, quotes French theorist Roland Barthes: “The sign is a fracture which only ever opens onto the face of another sign.” Perhaps no other statement better expresses the fractal nature of this music, for the more one zooms in on its precisions, the more one senses its freedoms expand. Joined by Sha (bass clarinet and alto saxophone), Kaspar Rast (drums) and newest recruit Thomy Jordi (bass), Bärtsch finds himself rooted in a familiar ethos while sprouting new verdure.

The album continues his “modular” approach, by which larger bodies coalesce from elemental forces. The newest of these, “Modul 60” and “Modul 59,” open and close the album with hints of a concentrated future. Where the latter emotes in liminal territory, the former is a direct link to Continuum, Bärtsch’s previous record for ECM with his Mobile project. Any nods to the past, however, are refracted through a brighter coming of age: a sound that once ran now leaps. The ritual groove of “Modul 58,” for instance, is at once what we might expect and a fresher take on group integration, a taste of perpetual motion shown in the band’s willingness to let details express themselves to the level of ecstasy. “Modul 36” reveals the deepest change; known to any longtime listener of Bärtsch, here it takes on the uniformly colored properties that would seem to extend the band’s evolutionary path. It’s a classic yet forward-thinking groove, one that feels like a childhood home renovated from the inside out. “Modul 34” is another early tune, only now making its studio debut. There’s an almost digital quality to it, nuanced by human touch.

Awase is also a departure for including a non-Bärtsch original by Sha: the enigmatically titled “A.” Gradually building an ocean out of a water droplet, its waves flow to the magnetic suggestions of an itinerant philosophical compass. Like the album as a whole, it toes the line between light and shadow with every intention of shedding its ego to both along (and by) the way.

(This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of The New York City Jazz Record, a full PDF of which is available here.)

Thomas Demenga review for Sequenza 21

My latest review for Sequenza 21 is of Thomas Demenga’s recent concert at Weill Recital Hall. The concert, given in celebration of his new ECM recording of the Bach cello suites, paired two of those suites with works by Elliott Carter and B. A. Zimmermann. Click the photo below to read on.

Demenga-Thomas_-photo-by-Ismael-Lorenzo
(Photo credit: Ismael Lorenzo)

Next ECM Radio Show Postponed

Although I was planning on wrapping up my “ECM by the Decades” series tomorrow night (April 23), I will instead be attending a concert in New York City by cellist Thomas Demenga (review soon to follow). I will be back on the air with the 2000s on May 7.

ECM by the Decades: The 1990s

On April 9, 2018, WKCR DJ Andrew Castillo and I presented the third in our five-part series, “ECM by the Decades,” focusing this time on the 1990s. The episode is now available to listen by clicking the PLAY button below. You may also download the full episode by clicking here. Scroll down for a full playlist, including links to my reviews of each album:

LEAD-IN
Jan Garbarek
RITES (ECM 1685/86)
“Rites”

[INTRO @ 00:08:25]

00:15:02
Kenny Wheeler Quintet
The Widow In The Window (ECM 1417)
“Ma Belle Hélène”

00:23:42
Dino Saluzzi Group
Mojotoro (ECM 1447)
“Lustrin”

00:30:00
Don Cherry
Dona Nostra (ECM 1448)
“What Reason Could I Give”

00:33:45
Trevor Watts/Moiré Music Drum Orchestra
Wider Embrace (ECM 1449)
“Southern Memories”

[BREAK @ 00:41:39]

00:45:27
John Surman
Adventure Playground (ECM 1463)
“As If We Knew”

00:52:54
Charles Lloyd
Notes From Big Sur (ECM 1465)
“Requiem”

01:00:54
Arild Andersen/Ralph Towner
If You Look Far Enough (ECM 1493)
“For All We Know”

[BREAK @ 01:04:56]

01:10:30
Peter Erskine/Palle Danielsson/John Taylor
You Never Know (ECM 1497)
“Evans Above”

01:16:48
Bobo Stenson Trio
Reflections (ECM 1516)
“Reflections in D”

01:22:12
Ketil Bjørnstad/David Darling/Terje Rypdal/Jon Christensen
The Sea (ECM 1545)
“The Sea II”

[BREAK @ 01:29:40]

01:33:27
Terje Rypdal
If Mountains Could Sing (ECM 1554)
“The Return Of Per Ulv”

01:38:24
Jack DeJohnette
Dancing With Nature Spirits (ECM 1558)
“Anatolia”

01:50:33
Nils Petter Molvær
Khmer (ECM 1560)
“Access / Song of Sand I”

[BREAK @ 01:56:26]

01:59:33
Jan Garbarek
Visible World (ECM 1585)
“Red Wind”

02:03:21
Misha Alperin
North Story (ECM 1596)
“North Story”

02:08:45
Tomasz Stanko
Leosia (ECM 1603)
“Morning Heavy Song”

[BREAK @ 02:15:23]

02:17:50
Kenny Wheeler
Angel Song (ECM 1607)
“Nicolette”

02:26:19
Ralph Towner
ANA (ECM 1611)
“The Reluctant Bride”

02:30:43
Dino Saluzzi
Cité de la Musique (ECM 1616)
“Gorrión”

[BREAK @ 02:34:02]

02:35:52
Christian Wallumrød Trio
No Birch (ECM 1628)
“The Birch 2”

02:39:00
Charles Lloyd
Voice In The Night (ECM 1674)
“Homage”

02:48:22
Vassilis Tsabropoulos/Arild Andersen/John Marshall
Achirana (ECM 1728)
“Fable”

[CLOSING REMARKS @ 02:56:40]

LEAD-OUT
Arild Andersen
Hyperborean (ECM 1631)
“Patch Of Light I”

ECM by the Decades: Third Installment on April 9

Join me and host Andrew Castillo once again tomorrow night (April 9) on WKCR’s Jazz Alternatives program, from 6-9pm EST. We’re continuing where we left off, moving on to era-defining gems of the ECM catalog from the 1990s. Click the logo below to be directed to the WKCR website, where you may stream us live by clicking the “LISTEN” icon on the top-right corner of the screen. Even if you’re unable to tune in, we will be archiving the program here for future streaming and downloads.

WKCR