ECM you should be buying on Emu

edited November 2010 in Jazz

For those who are looking to explore the ECM catalog, I'll start throwing out some rec based on albums and pricing I see on the site. I'm not gonna cross reference the prices to Amazon, etc, to see if there's a better deal to be had. Just a quick scan through the em ECM catalog available and a comment or two.

For those who aren't familiar with ECM, it's a Euro label, been around since about the early 70's when it really forwarded the world jazz sound. Some very talented avant guard musicians helped set the foundation for ECM (Don Cherry, AACM, Dewey Redman, etc). The "early" ECM sound was primarily world jazz; the "new millenium" ECM sound is very sparse even for a piano trio, and much of it is arguably not even jazz (see Anouar Brahem) but yet some beautiful music (see Anouar Brahem). Some of it is terribly overrated piano tinkling (ie Tord Gustavsen) and some of it is cheesy-ish electro-fusion-new age jazz (ie, Jan Garbarek and Pat Metheny). There is plenty of good stuff to be found however.


  • Matthias Eick - The Door

    One of the top twenty(ish) albums of the last decade. Somehow manages to add a slide guitar to that typical ECM sparseness to create a synthesized audio rainfall you can tap your foot to.
  • Codona - Codona 3.

    You can get the box set (all three albums) for about twice what the 3rd album costs, but as much as I love the whole trilogy, the third album is really the only one of the three a casual ECM fan needs to own. A trio of Don Cherry (trumpet), Colin Walcott (strings like sitar and shit) and Nana Vasconcelos (percussion). All three are great musicians in their own right and pretty much if you see any of their names on any album in any genre, you should think more highly of the album and probably should buy it. This album is brilliant. Definitely world jazz with some avant guard flirting. Don's sound is as haunting as it ever is while retaining that tonal warmth that has made him a favorite of jazz fans that straddles many jazz territories. I haven't checked, but I'll bet there's a full track or two on youtube you can hear.
  • Oh, yeah, and don't worry, you don't have cataracts... that's how the album covers really look.
  • I mentioned Anouar Brahem without knowing that his best stuff isn't offered on emu (as far as I can tell).

    Best Brahem album = "Le Voyage du Sahar"
    Second place = "Le Chat du Noir" (or something like that).
    Third = shit, can't remember, but I own it and like it, oh, hey, maybe "Arkastran Cafe". A distant third.

    None available on emu (as far as I can tell).
  • edited November 2010
    Arild Anderson - "The Triangle"

    Really good buy at four and a half bucks. Arild makes a lot of moody sparse cinematic new age-ish jazz that is sooooo terribly pretty first thing in the morning, not so engaging when the sun is at its zenith (ie Hypoborean or The River w/ Dave Darling). "Triangle" breaks that mode. Nice little trio with the unspellable Vassilis Tsaborouplis and the reliable John Marshall. Basically it's a moody piano trio with plenty of kick when it needs it.

    EDIT: The River /Dave Darling didn't have Arild on it; that was Ketil Bjornstadt.
  • Speaking of which...

    Ketil Bjornstadt - "The Sea II"

    Much preferable to the original album (The Sea). This is typical ECM sparse moody quasi-jazz, but the musicians really come together on this album to remarkable effect, creating some wonderful tension and drift. Terje Rypdal, IMO, an unlistenable guitarist who plays most cheese-new age music really shines on this album. My feeling about the guy is that when he slows it down, makes each note count, his talent really shines through, but when he starts to speed things up, he cheats both himself and the listener. David Darling's cello is always a nice addition to any ECM. At just under five bucks, not bad.

    Keep in mind, this is an old cheapie on BMG and YourMusic and may be found equally inexpensive as a physical cd elsewhere.
  • Gary Burton and Steve Swallow - "Hello Hotel"

    If you haven't discovered the sublime pairing of vibes and piano duos, here's a good opportunity. The sound on this album slides around a bit, but keep it's cohesion. For under four and a half bucks. great album to own. Swallow also plays some bass.
  • I guess in retrospect, I would probably call a vibes and piano duo "snappy". Sublime I would use to describe a vibes and guitar pairing.
    Just sayin'.
  • Don Cherry, Bobo Stenson, and others - "Dona Nostra"

    Kinda torn on rec'ing this one. The first track is one of the most haunting tunes you'll ever hear. I promise. Track two is perfectly fine. As the album progresses, it becomes a bit of a snoozer. But then again, I think Bobo Stenson doesn't play piano so much as ambien, so maybe my ears ain't the best ones to judge. Lots of people swear by Bobo; I think he's okay, but then again, I like me a good nap from time to time.
    Buy at your own risk. I own it. I still listen to it. At just under four and a half bucks, you decide what your risk profile is.
  • edited November 2010
    I go back and forth on Christian Wallumrod. I own Softienburg Variations and I like it. I own The Zoo is Far, and not so sure. Crap, I own another and forget which one.
    He's one of these guys who I can sense the talent but think maybe my ears haven't yet caught up to certain albums of his. I didn't look at any prices for his albums on emu, but he's someone you should keep on a list somewhere to check back with from time to time.

    His stuff has some of that Dave Douglass somber meander, or better described, some of that early Frisell heart of depression tone, but then he has these interludes of odd dissonance and Pet Sounds transfusions. Like I said, there's something there that I can't always wrap my ears around.
  • Colin Walcott - "Cloud Dance"

    Ah, here's some of that early ECM world jazz. Fucking sitar leading off track one, but damn if the album doesn't have some swing by track two.
    W/ John Abercrombie, Jack Dejohnette, and Dave Holland. A friggin' jazz all-star team.
  • You can look into John Abercrombie (guitar) and Charles Lloyd (sax) on your own. I've never been much of a fan of either, but there are people who would kill if you said anything wrong by them.
    Abercrombie does have some intriguing music on ECM, but you'll pay for it.
    Lloyd you can find cheap online and most music stores in big towns. If you live in Chicago, you can find just about anything by Lloyd on ECM used for five bucks and Reckless Records.
  • edited November 2010
    Here's something I never heard before...

    Chick Corea - Lyric Suite for Sextet

    Intriguing stuff. I like it.
    I'm not a Corea fan, but he put out some damn fine stuff on ECM.
    If I was gonna stay with emu, I'd pick this album up for six and a half.
  • The "early" ECM sound was primarily world jazz
    I don't think you can really say that (unless you mean something unfamiliar with the phrase "world jazz"), take a look at the early years, it's dominated by the contemporary improvisational avant-garde jazz of the day.
  • Okay, taking a break. See you tomorrow.
  • edited November 2010
    I don't think you can really say that (unless you mean something unfamiliar with the phrase "world jazz"), take a look at the early years, it's dominated by the contemporary improvisational avant-garde jazz of the day.

    Don't see much there that would move me away from my comment. Obviously there are going to be exceptions to any generalization, and I won't be shocked if those exceptions create a long list with my world jazz statement. However, many of those early ECM albums employed instruments that weren't your typical jazz quartet armory and they were comprised of compositions that weren't your typical jazz rhythmic patterns or tonal qualities.
    But, sure, if you disagree, no problem. I've been through these ECM debates ad naseum over on the AAJ forum; they typically go nowhere.
    I didn't offer this thread up as a dissertation. It was gonna be a series of quick hit and run impressions.
    I'll be back tomorrow.
  • Wow, I'm going to have some fun going through these recs next month when my freebies kick in. Thanks for putting these together.
  • Appreciate the recs - II will be sampling these. Way to raise that post count, big guy.
  • edited November 2010
    Way to raise that post count, big guy.

    You see conspiracies everywhere you look...
  • Wow, okay, here's one...

    Rypdal/Vitous/Dejohnette - S/T

    I've never owned this album, but I heard a track from it on youtube recently and I've been craving the album ever since. The samples sound pretty good to me. Oh, yeah, and it's just under three bucks.

    Here's the youtube video...
  • edited November 2010
    This next one is six and a half bucks, but it's worth knowing about...

    Jacob Young - Sideways

    An amazing album. Slow rainy day trumpet. Got lots of album of the year posts on the AAJ forum back whenever it came out (2008?). I picked this album up on BMG years ago, so you might be able to find the physical cd on yourmusic cheap.
  • Wow! I totally forgot about this album. And it's under three bucks...

    Ralph Towner - Old Friends, New Friends

    A fun little date. Towner plays all types of instruments on this album, including french horn. Kenny Wheeler shows up and so does Dave Darling. Really nice album.
  • Here's one. It's just under five bucks, but it was near the top of most AAJers Best of 2008...

    Marcin Wasilewski Trio - "January"

    For a while, this was my first of the morning album each and every morning. Never got sick of it. A simple piano trio that really manages to make each note count. This is another one of those BMG and maybe yourmusic albums to cross check the availability on. But definitely worth the $5 emu price.
  • Okay, this is another $6.50 album, but it's one that's pretty highly thought of...

    Kenny Wheeler - Angel Song

    It has Bill Frisell, Lee Konitz, and Dave Holland rounding out the quartet. Great album. I own it and listen to it from time to time. Me, personally, not sure I'd spend six and a half on it, but this album has gained sort of a cult following, so undoubtedly there are many out there who would find the price a steal.
  • Gosh, where does one start? A veritable feast is going into my SFL.
  • I have to echo Mommio, thanks for sharing, gang!
  • Okay, here's one you absolutely have to have...

    Eberhard Weber - "Endless Days"

    It's just under four bucks, and about as pretty an album as you'll find on the label. There is definitely some jazz in here, and some third stream jazz-classical going on as well. I mention on another thread that this album is like an ode to glorious autumn days in the countryside.
    If you like the samples, buy the album. The samples sounded good, but this is a great example of why Manfred Eicher is a dumb s.o.b. for how stingy he is with his labels album previews (and most of the artists on the label, too). I mean, I purchased it with only samples, but if it hadn't been at the bargain price, I never would've hit the download button. But this album is so damn beautiful, if I could've listened to full tracks on the ECM or artist site, I would've picked this album up long ago at twice the price. It's that good.
  • Intriguing. I have 2 Eberhard Weber albums (plus at least 2 others he is on) but not that one. Will have to check it out next month when my refreshes kick in.
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