Artist, author, photographer and composer Tyran Grillo has compiled Between Sound and Space – An ECM Records Resource, a most remarkable and beautiful blog dedicated to the powerful music of the ECM Records label. Once provocatively – and accurately – advertised as “the most beautiful sound next to silence,” ECM Records has for forty years provided a wealth of music by the greatest players in both the jazz and classical fields.
Founded in Munich, Germany, in 1969 by Manfred Eicher, ECM stands for “Editions of Contemporary Music” and has captured the recorded output of some of music’s most notable composers and players. The label’s most prominent – and prolific – recording artist is Keith Jarrett, who has recorded dozens of albums in a variety of formats from jazz trios (most notably The Standards Trio) and piano solos to classical recordings of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Shostakovich and others and the label’s all-time best seller, The Köln Concert (1975).
ECM’s first recording was laid down in 1969 by pianist Mal Waldron (who also recorded the Italian Soul Note label’s very first recording) and the label went onto specialize not only in jazz pianists such as Paul Bley, Steve Kuhn and Chick Corea, but guitarists Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell, Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie.
ECM has also captured not only many fine discs by otherwise neglected American jazz players like Don Cherry, Gary Burton and the brilliant Paul Motian but has also been particularly resolute at nearly single-handedly cataloging some of the best of Europe’s music makers from Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal and Eberhard Weber to Kenny Wheeler, Tomasz Stanko and John Surman. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the many fine, beautifully produced classical recordings the label has issued in its miraculous “ECM New Series.”
Tyran Grillo’s excellent blog is set up to address every single one of ECM’s releases – which now number into the thousands. Thanks to Manfred Eicher’s brilliant management, the label has remained very true to its artistic vision since day one and, surprisingly, a great many of the label’s releases stay in print and available to listeners who journey into the land of ECM.
Tyran has posted a number of my ECM-related reviews under his “Guest Reviews” section. But I would advise reading Tyran’s own beautifully-sculpted write ups, some of the most beautiful writing next to enjoying the music itself.