ECM (record label)

ECM (record label)

ECM (Edition of Contemporary Music) is a record label founded in Munich, Germany in 1969 by Manfred Eicher. ECM is best known for jazz music, but has released a wide variety of recordings, the artists associated with it often refusing to acknowledge boundaries between genres. ECM's motto is "The Most Beautiful Sound Next To Silence", a phrase taken from a 1971 review of ECM releases in "Coda", a Canadian music magazine. []

Eicher has continued to take an active interest in the music released by the label, acting as producer on most of its recordings. The typical ECM session is just three days — two days to record, one day to mix. Manfred Eicher, in general, dislikes overdubbing. Most of the records have been recorded with Jan Erik Kongshaug (of Talent Studios and later Rainbow Studios) in Oslo, Norway as sound engineer.

The first release on ECM was "Free At Last" in 1969 by American pianist Mal Waldron. Subsequently, the label initially concentrated on jazz, releasing records by artists including pianists Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Paul Bley, and Art Lande; saxophonist Jan Garbarek, vibraphone player Gary Burton; drummers Jon Christensen and Paul Motian; guitarists Pat Metheny, John Abercrombie, Ralph Towner and Terje Rypdal; bassists Eberhard Weber, Charlie Haden and Dave Holland; and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Many of the label's early recordings shared a certain common aesthetic framework, including a crisply nuanced recording sound, repertoire consisting mostly of original compositions by the artists, most of which did not "swing" in the conventional sense, and often stark and minimalist photographic cover art. Some detractors characterized the sound as "cold" and the music, and presentation, as "Eurocentric". Others have credited the label's early esthetic approach as a precursor, for better or worse, of the "New Age music" movement.

There is a clear link between some ECM recordings and World Music, especially the folk recordings by Jan Garbarek and the work of Steve Tibbetts and Stephan Micus. Other examples of ECM's world music are records by Codona, Tunisian oud musician Anouar Brahem, Indian violinist L. Shankar and Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos.

The ECM New Series was created in the 1980s to concentrate on classical works — it has released work by various composers, from the early (such as Thomas Tallis) to the contemporary (such as Arvo Pärt and Steve Reich). Keith Jarrett, better known as a jazz musician, has recorded several classical works by Bach, Mozart, Shostakovich, and others, for the New Series. Several works by the filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard are on the ECM New Series label.

On many releases, the jazz and classical sides of ECM are combined: for example, Garbarek's "Officium" (1994) features him playing saxophone solos over the Hilliard Ensemble singing Gregorian chant, early polyphony and Renaissance works. Garbarek's work with guitarist Ralph Towner draws on, and is as apparently influenced by, 20th century chamber music as by any overtly "jazz" material. John Potter of the Hilliard Ensemble has recorded works by John Dowland with jazz saxophonist John Surman and others, and Surman's "Proverbs and Songs" is a suite of choral settings of Old Testament texts, recorded in Salisbury Cathedral. The label has also released unique works that fit into no obvious genre at all (like the records of Meredith Monk).

In 2002 and 2004 ECM released a series of compilation CDs entitled ":rarum". Twenty of the label's artists were asked to compile a single CD of their work for the label (Garbarek and Jarrett's compilations are double CDs). Artists who contributed to this series are
Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Bill Frisell, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Terje Rypdal, Bobo Stenson, Pat Metheny, Dave Holland, Egberto Gismonti, Jack DeJohnette, John Surman, John Abercrombie, Carla Bley, Paul Motian, Tomasz Stanko, Eberhard Weber, Arild Andersen, Jon Christensen.


The label has been distributed in the USA by Polydor Records, PolyGram, Warner Bros. Records, and BMG, and is now distributed by Universal Music.

Related Books

*Sleeves of Desire: A Cover Story ed. Lars Müller Publishers ISBN 978-3906700854 1996
*Horizons Touched: The Music Of ECM ed. Steve Lake and Paul Griffiths Granta Books ISBN 978-1862078802 2007


Munich-Graefelfing (near the highway exit, above the ProMark shop)

Previous location; Munich-Pasing

ee also

* List of record labels

External links

* [ Official site]
* [ ECM Discography (Fan Site - ECM link on Trovar Home page)]

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