This is one of the shortest programs I’ve done so far, but all these releases from ECM and ACT–German-based labels–are just so good that I have to get the word out. This is music that doesn’t get much airplay on jazz stations because it doesn’t “swing” enough. Airplay and exposure comes mostly from NPR, audiophile publications like Stereophile, The Absolute Sound and from the music folks at the New York Times.
I’ve been a fan of the Munich-based label ECM for forty years now. They released Keith Jarrett’s first solo piano album in 1973; my first interview was with Eberhard Weber whose 1975 LP The Colours of Chloe totally stunned me with its originality. ECM in particular has such high production values–recorded sound, packaging, performance–that it has become a benchmark for all others to be measured by. ACT Records–also Munich-based, has also released some wonderful world and jazz albums: Huong Thanh, Nguyen Lê, Youn Sun Nah, Joachim Kühn are just a few on their artist roster.
ECM has also released amazing classical music, including the first Arvo Part recording–the luminous Tabula Rasa in 1986, which Charlie Haden brought to me at Morning Becomes Eclectic for its U.S. premiere.
In an age of digital downloads and cheap packaging, these labels are exceptional. So is the music they bring to us. Thank you ECM especially for such an amazing catalogue and also to ACT especially for putting out Youn Sun Nah, Huong Thanh, and Nguyen Lê albums. These are albums that I listen to again and again.
Here are some artist snapshots:
Ralph Towner is an ECM records veteran artist; here he works with another superb guitarist, with guitar bass duties supplied by Slava Grigorian.
Zsofia Boros is a gifted guitarist from Budapest, born in 1980, who has received numerous awards.
Susanne Abbuehl is a Swiss jazz singer who has the depth and penetration of Melody Gardot.
Ditto for veteran UK folk artist June Tabor, whose new album “Quercus” (a genus of oak trees), also stuns. Here she sings an old Matt Gordon love song, “This is Always”.
Aaron Park‘s solo ECM record Aborescence is named after a verse from the poem “The Traveler” by Robert Creeley.
Leszek Mozdzer is a Polish pianist that I know from his beautiful album of Zbigniew Preisner’s music, Ten Easy Pieces for Piano (which are not easy at all).
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Rhythm Planet Playlist: 11/1/13
- Ralph Towner Et Al / Father Time / Travel Guide / ECM
- Zsofia Boros / Cancion Triste / En Otra Parte / ECM
- Susanne Abbuehl / My River Runs To You / The Gift / ECM
- June Tabor / This Is Always / Quercus / ECM
- Aaron Parks / River Ways / Arborescence / ECM
- Leszek Mozdzer & Danielsson / Chai Peimot / Polska / Act