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.
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.
In addition to my love of writing, I am a longtime editor and wanted to share a project in which I was honored to be involved as copyeditor of Elliott Sharp’s autobiographical and philosophically rich Ir/rational Music, published by ECM recording artist David Rothenberg under his Terra Nova imprint. Click the cover to be directed to Amazon and find out more about this fascinating book.
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!
On 10 February 2010, I began this blog with the goal of reviewing every album issued by ECM Records proper and its New Series imprint. Four years ago, I achieved said goal. Within hours of announcing this milestone, I was approached by Raúl Zea of Rey Naranjo, a publisher of fine books based in Bogotá, Colombia. As it turned out, Raúl was a huge ECM fan and had been reading my blog from almost the beginning. His proposal: To publish a book of selected reviews. My answer: When can we start? Fast-forward to 27 April 2019, and I found myself boarding an airplane bound for the annual Bogotá International Book Fair (a.k.a. FILBo) to hold the volume in my hands at last and present its contents to fans and newcomers alike over the course of five days.
As the book evolved into its present form as Between Sound and Space: An ECM Records Primer, my editors and I felt it necessary to marshal the reviews to speak to a variety of audiences. True to its designation as a “primer,” it is first and foremost intended as a doorway into the label’s manifold wonders. For that reason, inclusion of such classics as The Köln Concertwas absolutely necessary. On the other hand, I wanted to highlight albums that even seasoned listeners might have overlooked. Out of those two extremes emerged 100 specially curated and recrafted essays, rounded out by a smattering of personal favorites: a journey through ECM’s ongoing history that I hope will inspire readers in new directions of listening.
Upon arriving at my hotel, I was draped with my FILBo credentials and guided to my publisher’s table. Yet before I could even marvel at a product years in the making, I had to take in the sheer scale of the fair and its throngs of passionate attendees—many of whom, I would discover the next morning, would be lined down the block three hours before opening time.
As I waded through cliques of voracious readers, I at last came face to face with the editor who had made this trip a reality, and with the work of art he and the Rey Naranjo team had labored to print in time for this event.
After a round of introductions, and a sampling of local cuisine (including my first bowl of ajiaco), I was ready to succumb to the toll of travel knowing that my love letter to a life-changing record label now had a life of its own.
The next few days were a promotional whirlwind, including two interviews for Colombian radio, two book talks, an interview with The Bogotá Post, and a video shoot at my publisher’s bookstore, Santo & Seña, for an upcoming crowdfunding campaign in anticipation of the book’s international version (to be released in early 2020). While it was exciting to be the center of so much attention, I also knew that none of it would have taken place without the vital music that had brought me into that center to begin with. Being able to share my knowledge with ECM fans in another country felt like the first step toward a larger conversation that I can only hope my book will provoke and sustain in the future.
Before leaving the city, I rode a cable car to the top of Monserrate, where Bogotá’s wider embrace became at last apparent.
The long stairway to the very top was a sobering reminder that no journey is possible without the steps required to bring its destination into view. And, like the gradations of mountain and concrete that bid me farewell, nothing we do is possible without the input of untold lives, laboring through cycles of sun and moon until our blessings are indistinguishable from all others.
For those blessings, I would especially like to thank Raúl Zea and John Naranjo for believing in me from day one, Andrea Salgado for the gracious invitation, Aurélie Radé for navigating the complexities of airline politics, Dulce María Ramos for coordinating interviews and rushing me to every venue on time, Luisa Martínez for her gentle kindness (and the flower), Guillermo Concha and Liladhar Pendse for proving that strangers should never stay that way for long, Juan Carlos Garay and David Roa for enlightening conversations in front of vastly different audiences, and the interpreters, including Ale Bernal, who rendered those conversations into Spanish under tight circumstances.
I am humbled and pleased to announce that my book on ECM is finally coming out this week. Between Sound and Space: An ECM Records Primer is to be published by Rey+Naranjo in a first edition available only to the South American market, then as a global edition early next year (preorders will be available soon).
I have been graciously invited to present two talks at the Bogotá International Book Fair. My first talk will be “ECM Records: Listen, Watch and Remain Silent,” to be given this Sunday, April 28. The second will be “The Collector as Historian,” to be given on April 30th. Please attend and introduce yourself if you’re in the Bogotá area!
More to follow.
In his foreword to Music to Silence to Music: A Biography of Henry Grimes, Sonny Rollins recalls his first encounter with the young bassist in Philadelphia: “He seemed to hear and immediately respond…in an unbroken circuit between muse and man.” Likewise, German historian Barbara Frenz’s lovingly penned biography wires an unbroken circuit between reader and subject.
Frenz jumps improvisationally from reportage to interview. The resulting portrait is as multifaceted as the man himself. Grimes may not be interested in the anecdotal, but his memories yield a veritable résumé of iconic associations. By the early ’60s he was swimming in the deep end of New York City’s jazz scene, where collaborations with the likes of Albert Ayler unlocked his evolutionary potential. In 1967, just two years after his first leader date, he left the East Coast for the west and wasn’t heard from for nearly four decades. Grimes was forced to sell his bass in Los Angeles, where he sustained himself through odd jobs until he was rediscovered in 2002. He has been playing ever since, much to the glee of listeners and journalists alike, playing hundreds of concerts and surpassing even his own exalted reputation in the process. During the silence, he didn’t so much as touch an instrument. And yet, as Frenz makes clear, the music was always germinating inside him, along with a literary worldview that would feed back into his reprisal endeavors. His poetry is dark yet insightful and, like his soloing, focuses its attention on human interaction.
With this biography, Frenz has undone the misconception of Grimes as reticent ghost, arguing instead for his bold expressiveness while further emphasizing his versatility, go-with-the-flow attitude, and inner growth. His past contributions are obvious, but, as Frenz is quick to point out, his importance to the future of jazz even more so. Rather than an introvert who almost faded into obscurity, she wants us to see him as someone uninterested in attachments, living as he has—and always will—in the immaterial.
(This article originally appeared in the June 2016 The New York City Jazz Record, of which a PDF of the full issue is available here.)