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Recent And Upcoming ECM Releases: April - June 2017

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Aaron Parks
Look for these recent or upcoming releases on ECM Records.

Aaron Parks
Find the Way

Aaron Parks: piano, Ben Street: double bass, Billy Hart: drums.

For the second ECM album by Aaron Parks—following the solo release Aborescence, which JazzTimes praised as “expansive, impressionistic… like a vision quest”—the prize-winning pianist has convened a cross-generational trio featuring bassist Ben Street and drummer Billy Hart. The rhythm pair, which also teams in Hart’s hit quartet for ECM, blends fluidity and strength—what Parks calls “an oceanic” quality, producing waves of energy for the pianist to alternately ride and dive into. Find the Way has the aura of a piano-trio recording in the classic mold, from melody-rich opener “Adrift” to the closing title track, a cover of a romantic tune Parks grew to love on an LP by Rosemary Clooney and Nelson Riddle. Always concerned with balancing the masculine and feminine impulses in music, Parks also drew inspiration for this album from the likes of Alice Coltrane and Shirley Horn (for whom Hart played); space and subtlety are a priority, with the pianist aiming to allow “the music to breathe and be.”

Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan
Small Town

Bill Frisell: guitar; Thomas Morgan: double bass.

Small Town presents guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan in a program of duets, the poetic chemistry of their playing captured live at New York’s hallowed Village Vanguard. Frisell made his debut as a leader for ECM in 1983 with the similarly intimate In Line. The guitarist’s rich history with the label also includes multiple recordings by his iconic cooperative trio with Paul Motian and Joe Lovano, culminating in Time and Time Again in 2007. Small Town begins with a tribute to Motian in the form of a searching, 11-minute interpretation of the late drummer’s composition “It Should’ve Happened a Long Time Ago,” the duo’s counterpoint yielding a hushed power. Morgan has appeared on several ECM albums of late, as bassist of choice for Tomasz Stanko, Jakob Bro, David Virelles, Giovanni Guidi and Masabumi Kikuchi. Small Town sees Frisell and Morgan pay homage to jazz elder Lee Konitz with his “Subconscious Lee,” and there are several country/blues-accented Frisell originals, including the hauntingly melodic title track. The duo caps the set with an inimitable treatment of John Barry’s famous James Bond theme “Goldfinger.”

Avishai Cohen
Cross My Palm With Silver

Avishai Cohen: trumpet; Yonathan Avishai: piano; Barak Mori: double bass; Nasheet Waits: drums.

A year after his impressionistic, critically-lauded ECM debut Into The Silence, trumpeter Avishai Cohen’s Cross My Palm With Silver introduces a program of new pieces which put the focus on the ensemble, on teamwork, with a quartet of the highest caliber. The adroit, almost telepathic interplay among the musicians allows Avishai Cohen to soar, making it clear why he is one of the most talked-about jazz musicians on the contemporary scene. “All of these people together are my dream team”, says the charismatic trumpeter of fellow players Yonathan Avishai, Barak Mori and Nasheet Waits, who share his sense for daring improvisation and his feeling for structure. “I feel we’re in a perfect place with the balance. It’s open and there’s so much room for the improvisation to take the music any place we can. At the same time the composition is very specific and the vibe is very direct and thought about.” As with em>Into The Silence, Cross My Palm With Silver was produced by Manfred Eicher at Studios La Buissonne in the south of France.

Chris Potter
The Dreamer Is the Dream

Chris Potter: tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet; David Virelles: piano, keyboards; Joe Martin: double bass; Marcus Gilmore: drums, percussion.

For his third ECM release as a leader, Chris Potter presents a new acoustic quartet that naturally blends melodic rhapsody with rhythmic muscle. The group includes superlative musicians well known to followers of ECM’s many recordings from New York over the past decade: keyboardist David Virelles, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore, who each shine in addition to the leader on multiple horns. The Dreamer Is the Dream features Potter on tenor saxophone—the instrument that has made him one of the most admired players of his generation—in the striking opener “Heart in Hand” and such album highlights as “Yasodhara,” as well as on soprano sax (“Memory and Desire”) and bass clarinet (the title track). Potter is an artist who “employs his considerable technique in service of music rather than spectacle,” says The New Yorker, and his composing develops in texture and atmosphere with every album. Along with his previous ECM releases, Imaginary Cities and The Sirens, he has appeared on some of the label’s most acclaimed discs, including Paul Motian’s classic Lost in a Dream and Dave Holland’s Grammy Award-winning What Goes Around.

Tomasz Stanko New York Quartet
December Avenue

Tomasz Stanko: trumpet; David Virelles: piano; Reuben Rogers: double bass, Gerald Cleaver: drums.

Four years after the landmark album Wisława, the great Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko’s New York Quartet returns with another masterful recording, December Avenue. Always an insightful bandleader, Stanko here encourages spirited improvisation to flower around his characteristically melancholic and soulful themes, and all players are presented to best advantage. New band member Reuben Rogers—originally from the Virgin Islands and perhaps best-known for his work with Charles Lloyd—is a splendid addition to the team, establishing a profound understanding with Cuban-born pianist David Virelles and Detroit drummer Gerald Cleaver. JazzTimes, reviewing the band in concert, reflected on the strengths of the individual players: “Stanko has never had a pianist like Virelles. When his moments came, he configured his own lyrical domain within the world of a Stanko song. For that matter, Stanko has never had a bassist and drummer like Rogers and Cleaver, with their hard edges and their volatile energy.” December Avenue was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the South of France in June 2016 and produced by Manfred Eicher.

Dominic Miller
Silent Light

Dominic Miller: guitar, electric bass; Miles Bould: percussion, drums

Born in Argentina to an American father and Irish mother, guitarist Dominic Miller was raised in the U.S. from age 10 and then educated there and in England. Now he lives in France, though he has toured the globe for the past three decades. Aptly, Silent Light—Miller’s ECM debut, featuring him solo and with percussion accompaniment – has a very international feel, with the Latin influence strong in such pieces as “Baden” (dedicated to Brazilian guitarist- composer Baden Powell). “Le Pont” has an early 20th-century Parisian air, while “Valium” evokes Celtic tunes in the vein of Bert Jansch and “Fields of Gold” is a hushed instrumental take on one of Sting’s best-known ballads. Miller has long been known as Sting’s right-hand man on guitar—and co-writer of the worldwide hit “Shape of My Heart,” among others. Miller has also worked with the likes of Paul Simon, The Chieftains and Plácido Domingo. The guitarist’s playing has prompted praise from Simon, who points out, in a liner note to the album, that Miller “has a beautiful touch, with a fragrance of jazz and English folk.”

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