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The sensuality, the inventiveness – and the intricacies of a broad palette of moods and colors make „Overpass“ this solo bass work, recorded in Sao Paolo, Brazil, so outstanding. In his early years, Marc was captivated by listening to another solo bass album, meanwhile a classic, and for good reasons, Dave Holland‘s „Emerald Tears“.



Many inspired jazz recordings come out of combinations of instrumentalists – usually the more unexpected, the better. What’s most fascinating are the ways players adapt to each other’s emotions and inventiveness. This pairing, which is exactly the kind of fusion that has made ECM such a distinct entity lo these many years, was likely inspired by ECM founder and inspirational presence Manfred Eicher. American pianist Hersch, who can do wistful as well as he does sprightly and is as strong melodically as rhythmically, is easily one of the finest pianists in jazz today. Italy’s Rava, who debuted on ECM with 1975’s ‘The Pilgrim and the Stars’ and who began as a bopper before falling under the sway of free jazz, has mellowed into a trumpet master with astonishing range, able to command nearly every permutation in jazz, from avant-garde to soul jazz. Both men are sentimentalists in the best sense, and both are lyrical players, which is what makes their pairing in ‘The Song Is You’ so captivating. […] The sound here is breathtaking: spacious, natural, impeccably balanced, with glorious resonance and just enough of the sound of the room to add presence. It is – as is the standard with ECM – an audible tutorial on recording done right. Thoroughly enjoyable and instantly essential.

Robert Baird, Stereophile

„Naked Truth“, das mag grossspurig klingen, in einer Zeit, in der nichts so leicht zu verbiegen und deformieren ist wie schlichteste Fakten und Wahrheiten. Doch lauscht man dieser neunteiligen Suite des Avishai Cohen Quartetts vom ersten bis zum letzten Ton (und nur so macht es Sinn), wird kaum jemand eine Spur von Pathos ausfindig machen – das ist tatsächlich „nackte Musik“ fernab von Verzierungen, selbstgenügsamen Kunstgriffen, edlen Wallungen. Und jeder der vier Musiker waren sich bewusst, dass der existenzielle Kern dieses Albums das Gedicht „Departure“ von Zelda Schneurson Mishkovsky ist, dessen englische Übersetzung aus dem Hebräischen dem Album beiliegt – Avishai Cohen trägt es im Finale fast seelenruhig vorträgt – ein Gedicht, das, manch schockierenden Zeilen zum Trotz, auch Trost, Akzeptanz und Dankbarkeit bereithält – es beginnt so … 


„Es ist notwendig, mit dem Abschied von der Pracht des Himmels und den Farben der Erde zu beginnen, allein zu stehen und sich der Stille des Todes zu stellen, sich von der Neugierde zu trennen, sich von den Worten zu trennen, von all den Worten, die ich gelesen und gehört habe. Und vom Wasser, das ich gesehen habe und nicht gesehen habe. Zu sterben, ohne das Meer gesehen zu haben. Ich trenne mich von der Luft der Nacht und von der Luft des Morgens. Vom Unkraut, von einem Obstbaum und von einem kahlen Baum, vom schwachen Licht und von den Sternen. Verzichte auf den Anblick eines fliegenden Vogels, verzichte auf den Anblick eines Tieres oder eines Insekts, verzichte auf meine Freunde und Kameraden, verzichte auf die feuchteste Aufregung und auf die Angst vor dem undurchsichtigen Wahnsinn.“


Tous les panneaux de sortie sont allumés. I listened to „Simian Angel“ for the first time at the end of summer, sometime ago, on headphones, at night. A long cable, a chaiselongue in the garden. Heaven seems to be the most lonesome place, at least from the point of view of gardening and Japanese tea ceremonies. Nearly knowbody knows this album.

Strange enough, we can still feel in harmony when looking at the sky at night, that time being seduced by Oren Ambarchi‘s album – two long compositions that defy definitions, limits, opening a constant feel of joy and wonder, kling and klang. A touch of kosmische music here and there.

His guitar sounds like a synth, and an organ, most of the time, and when he plays what sounds like a piano (and is again, made with his guitar – a special treatment really), you might feel, for a moment, a „Music For Airports“-vibe – just another illusion, up, up, and away, with the blink of an eye.

Oren’s partner is Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista, and when he starts on berimbau at the beginning of vinyl‘s second side, you are in wonderland. Yes, I thought, for another sequence of seconds, of Nana Vasconcelos‘s famous (or not so famous) solo album „Nana Vasconcelos“, the one with violins and violas coming completely out of nowhere, and knowing about Oren‘s passion for a lot of ECM records, I’m quite sure he might have had a similar memory, for a moment.

The music is crossing area after area, you are not able to, surely not keen on marking a spot. All exit signs on! The earth never solid, the percussion drifting in the windmills of your mind. Not all riddles solved, what do you think. I listened to it again tonite. Another word for melting kindly required, all these thin places.


2021 13 Nov

Meine fünf Lieblingsalben 2021 (Platz 4)

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„For Nik Bärtsch’s Entendre, recorded in the spacious surroundings of the Auditorio Stelio Molo, Lugano, Bärtsch sits alone with a Steinway grand, laying bare the wireframes and stratifications of his polymetric ‘ritual groove music’ (described more as templates, rather than prescribed compositions). At face value, it’s difficult to imagine how the complexity and fullness of the Ronin sound world can be presented this way; might it be just a pale reflection? As these absorbing fifty minutes or so prove, honed after Bärtsch’s 2017 solo piano tour experiences in Teheran, Cairo, Alexandria, Kolkata and Delhi, certainly not.“

1 – Am Ende eines Gespräches


In my next radio night I will play a long track from Robert Ashley‘s masterpiece „Private Parts“. A special voice tells a story full of apparently marginal things (but nevertheless a meditation on life), accompanied by interesting „background music“. Recommended for your ears, Kurt, also,  because of the way you are working with  language on Showtunes.“

“The  name rings a bell, Michael. Special background music – that was the  case, too, when Bob Dylan read his speech for the Nobel Prize, just being accompanied by a piano.“

“A propos piano. In a review of Showtunes, I put your album alongside some other albums from different genres that, for me, have a similar kind of nakedness, intensity and intimacy. And one of them was a piano solo album by Paul Bley: „Open, to love“.  Go for that, Kurt, it‘s awesome midnight music.

„I will, Michael. I love ECM“.


(transcribed from memory, from yesterday‘s Zoom-interview with Kurt Wagner (Lambchop) in Nashville, Tennessee)





2 – Einige dieser Sommerabende


Der Sommer, der morgen beginnt, und obwohl er schon ein paar Tage offenkundig war, rasch wieder von einer Regenfront und kühlen Winden verprellt wird, hatte genug warme Wiesen parat, um sich darauf zu räkeln, in die neuen Kurzgeschichten von Haruki Murakami abzutauchen,  oder sich vom feinsinnigen Humor der Essays von John Green entführen zu lassen – und obendrein gab es die angenehm kühlen Abende mit verlangsamten Blicken zu den Restlichtern dieser Tage (Laternen, Abendrot, Grillkohle), sowie Alben, die, wie in alten Zeiten, zur Nacht hin, abwechselnd den Plattenteller blockierten: immer wieder „Showtunes“ von Lambchop, „Promises“ von Floating Points, und das Album mit mehr als einem Hauch einer alten Stadt der Mayas. „Every repetition is a form of change“ (Oblique Strategies, oder Heraklit, ganz wie man will).



3 – In bester Gesellschaft von „Showtunes“


Mark Hollis’ solo album, Joe Lovano’s „Trio Tapestry“, Nico‘s „The Marble Index“,  Paul Bley‘s „Open, to Love“, Brian Eno‘s  „Another Day On Earth“, Prefab Sprout‘s „I Trawl The Megahertz“, John Cale‘s „Music For A New Society“, and the last album of Jacques Brel, the one with a pale blue sky and pale white clouds



4 – Nachspiel


Trio Tapestry‘s sense of melody, space and  letting-go  is immaculate. I will always remember their first record, one of the jazz miracles of 2019. For me, it was the best album Joe Lovano ever made, with Manfred Eicher’s perfect sequencing of the tracks. Listen to the vinyl: suspense, sound and silence in perfect union. It is quite natural that this follow-up lives up to the high standard of the first meeting in New York. Now with a deeper touch of Provence pastel and colours at dusk. You can think of every jazz writing cliche of praise, from „filigree“ to „elemental“, and be sure that Lovano, Crispell and Castaldi are breathing new life into it. After the first three pieces of pure baladry (written by soul, not by the book), the appearances of sound take more and more adventurous side steps, from moments of pianistic unrest and upheaval, to an exploration of metal and sound in Castaldi‘s drum figures. A zen-like purity‘s bold pairing with an adventurous spirit. „Garden of Expression“ delivers everything with grace, selflessness and the most nuanced sense of  tempo, time standing still and a flow of undercurrents. If this sounds slightly over the top, let the music take over, dim the lights and follow the tapestries!


„… and then you’re left in this wonderful area of floating which i love so much“  (David Darling, 1994, in that old radio show)





Pino Palladino & Blake Mills:
Just Wrong (from Notes With Attachements)  / 
Thomas Stronen, Marthe Lea, Ayumi Tanaka: Varsha (from Bayou) / Sinikka Langeland: Wolf Rune (from Wolf Rune) / Simon Goff: Wooden Islands (from Vale) / Nik Bärtsch speaking / Nik Bärtsch: Modul 55 (from Entendre) / Ballaké Sissoko: Kora (from Djourou) / Daniel Lanois: Every Nation (from Heavy Sun) / Valerie June: Stardust Scattering (from The Moon and Stars: Prescription for Dreamers) / Balmorhea:    (from The Wind)





Sternzeit – /  A Winged Victory for the Sullen: Total Perspective Vortex (from Invisible Cities) / Daniel Lanois: Under The Heavy Sun & Mother’s Eyes (from Heavy Sun) / Lana del Ray: Chemtrails over the Country Club (from Chemtrails Over The Country Club) / Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders, London Symphony Orchestra: Movement 7 (from Promises) / Joshua Abrams speaking* Natural Information Society with Evan Parker: Part III (from: Descension (Out Of Our Constrictions – out now on Aguirre Records, promoted in Germany at least, by Werner and Klaus, no kidding) / Balmorhea: some more quiet moments from The Wind)


Joshua Abrams (transcript of his special „solo speech“): „At the time of this recording we had performed descension (Out of Our Constrictions) 17 times in concert over a period of 5 months. i wrote the music in February of 2019 for the current touring incarnation of Natural Information Society made up of Lisa Alvarado, Mikel Avery, Jason Stein & myself. Lisa plays harmonium amplified with effects, Mikel – drums, Jason Stein – bass clarinet & i play guimbri.  The guimbri is a 3 string bass lute sometimes called a sintir or a hajhouj. It is Gnawan instrument that can be heard in sacred & secular music. I like to think of the guimbri as a sophisticated form of soundmaking technology for focusing & guiding concentration.

The music i write for Natural Information Society is interwoven & multilayered. we are all weaving a sound together. With time & experience performing the piece we find new paths, resting places & occasional detours.  it is the woven nature of the composition that gives descension (Out of Our Constrictions) its hypnotic qualities. The music encourages the band’s members to find variation & embellishment & is written with room for mutability & improvisation.  

From time to time we have the pleasure of having guests join the group.  when we last played in berlin, a couple days before this recording, Tony Buck, Magda Mayas & Theaster Gates all joined us at Arkaoda.  other guests have included Chris Abrahams, Josh Berman, Hamid Drake, Alexander Hawkins,  Tomeka Reid, Dave Rempis & Helge Sten.  In most cases guests are free to improvise along with the group and respond to the vibration and context of the piece (music)

Evan Parker needs no introductions for his contributions & innovations to free improvisation, the saxophone & music in general.  Far be it for me to tell him what to play or say.  he’s a free agent.  It is always a challenge & an honor to try to rise to what he brings to the music.  What you will hear is side C of a recording from a concert we presented at Cafe OTO in London. The piece is about 1/2 way through a 70 something minute performance.  The music is opening up, Jason is soloing a little, trying to catch up to Evan and the band is fully in.  CAFE OTO is one of the group’s favorite places to play & this night was no exception. The audience was crowded & the room was full of good energy bouncing off the walls.  playing the concert was a thrilling experience & and the hang (was) a fine time to boot.“ (translated by Deepl. in comment 3) 




This theme hour on DAVID DARLING will be quite a surprise. Deep in the archives Odilo C. found two portraits I did about the music of the late composer and cello player, from the years 1994 and 2001. – what a joy, to listen once more to Darling’s voice and musical confessions, not to forget the days in the studio with Manfred Eicher working on „Cello“. The second show has the better title: „Mr. Darkwood und die Langsamkeit der Steine“, but I will broadcast  „Das Herz der Dunkelheit“,  which is more centered around his primal inspirations, with music mainly from the solo cello albums JOURNAL OCTOBER and CELLO. And some excerpts from Darling‘s duo album with Terje Rypdal, EOS, and his album as band leader, CYCLES. 20 years of  great achievements, produced by  Manfred Eicher between 1979 und 2000. Here the old show in its entirety, without introductory and closing words  from the radio broacast yesterday … 





Beverly Glenn-Copeland (from Keyboard Fantasies)
Various Artists:  Made To Measure, Vol. 1 (Minimal Compact)

Die Welttraumforscher: two tracks  from DIE RÜCKKEHR DER ECHTEN MENSCHEIT: DIE JAHRE 1981-1990

Grandaddy: He‘s Simple, He‘s Dumb, He‘s the Pilot (from The Sophtware Slump….on a wooden piano)

Die Welttraumforscher: two tracks from WIR ARBEITEN FÜR DIE NÄCHSTE WELT: DIE JAHRE 1991-2012

Various Artists:  Made To Measure, Vol. 1 (Aksak Maboul)
Beverly Glenn-Copeland (from Keyboard Fantasies*)

V.A. – Soul Jazz Records presents Studio One Dub Fire Special 


*Re-release of Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s rural Canadian  suite for DX7 and TR707 …keyboard fantasies… with new carefully reconstructed glasswork design by Alan Briand.  Beverly Glenn-Copeland is already known amongst collectors and music heads for two sought-after albums of folky jazz in the key of Joni. But it was this album, originally self-released on cassette in 1986 that really caught our attention. The album, entirely recorded on DX-7 and TR-707, lies somewhere between digital new-age and (accidentally) early Detroit techno experiments. The inimitable style of BGC here is both peaceful and meditative while simultaneously rhythmic and bass heavy. The album was recorded in the northern Canadian town of Huntsville where BGC was living at the time and is a beautiful fusion of personal vision, technology and place.




Eduardo Ramos: Vocacion Revolucion / Groupo Mounmental: Hasta Los Cuantas / Los 5 U 4: Solo Esta Musica / Grupo de Experimentacion Sonora del ICAIC: Concion Con Todos / Orquestra Los Van Van: Yo Se Que Van Van / Grupo Monumental: Nadia Se Siente Cansado / Orquestro Ritmo Oriental: Maria, Baila El Son / Juan Pablo Torres Y Algo Nievo: Rampe Cocorioco (all tracks from the Soul Jazz Records compilation:  V. A. – Cuba Music And Revolution – Culture Clash in Havana Cuba – Experiments In Latin Music Vol. 1)*




Omar Khorshid   (from Omar Khorshid with Love)**
Ayalew  Mesfin: Mot Aylerim (from Tewedije Limut)
Marcos Resende & Index: My Heart (from Marcos Resende & Index)


*Like Manna from the heavens, this superb collection heralds in the New Year and has to be one of the most significant compilations for many a decade.  Released as both a heavyweight 3 x vinyl LP and deluxe 2xCD set, this Soul Jazz Records album is the culmination of some 20 odd years of research and crate-digging by compilers Gilles Peterson and Stuart BakerFeaturing a number of legendary Cuban artists who flourished in the 70s and 80s, for example Los Van Van, Grupo Irakere and Pablo Milanés,alongside other lesser-known performers, such as Grupo De Experimentación Sonora Del ICAIC, Grupo Monumentaland Orquesta Ritmo Oriental, who remain unknown outside their native country, virtually none of the tracks appearing on the collection have ever been heard outside of Cuba.


** „With Love“ released by the Beirut-based Voice of Lebanon label in 1978 is a testament to Omar Khorshid’s greatness and encapsulate the unique sound of his guitar playing over modern arrangements establishing him as one of Arabic music’s true innovator. Featuring reworkings of such favourites as Mohamed Abdel Wahab’s „Ahwak“, Farid El-Atrache’s „Hebbina Hebbina“ (a Brian Eno Favourite), and the Rahbani Brothers‘ „Rahbaniyat“, the album is a fascinating example of modern arabic music that aimed at fusing traditional influences with the more contemporary ones, and has become highly sought-after by lovers of this Middle Eastern sounds around the world.“



ENTENDRE ist für mich ein Album, das man sich am besten in aller Ruhe und Hochspannung von Anfang bis Ende  anhören sollte in einem Stück hören sollte. Was war der Hintergedanke des finalen Stückes, das kein Modul im Titel trägt und  Deja-vu, Vienna heisst?


MODUL 55 ist in seiner Realisierung  ungewöhnlich: zum einen, klar, ist es fast ein Ruhepol, platziert zwischen der  ersten und dritten Komposition, mit ihren, in Passagen, expressiven Verwirbelungen. Stand hier vielleicht weniger das „Kernmodul“ im Fokus, und mehr die Peripherie? Es klingt ja fast wie ein „richtiges“ Jazzstück.


Patience, intense focus and lightness“ heisst es im Pressetext, und das scheinen bei ENTENDRE die Massstäbe zu sein. Wie bringst du dich bei so einem Aufnahmetag in Lugano in die richtige Geisteshaltung? Gibt es da Rituale, Meditationen – oder ist es einfach ein Urvertrauen, sich voller Raumgefühl durch, zumindest in den Gerüsten, vertraute Module zu bewegen?  Auch der bestens verinnerlichte Raum braucht ja (fürs Kreative) stetig neue Nahrung, in Ecken, Winkeln – und sei es nur der wechselnde Einfall des Lichts.


Du sagst, dass deine Reisen in ferne Ländern dein Bewusstsein über den Zusammenhang von (pianistischer) Solo-Performance und ritueller Musik in verschiedenen Kukturen weiter vertieft haben. Die Verbindung von „Ronin“ zu Elementen japanischer Kampfkunst ist bekannt.


Wie war das „Zusammenspiel“ mit Manfred Eicher? Ihr seid ja beide meinungsstarke Wesen. Für jemanden, der so intensiv mit den gewiss flexiblen Klangräumen der Module verbandelt ist… gab es da im Austausch spezielle Ideen, Anreize, Herausforderungen?


ENTENDRE ist nicht das erste Dokument deines Solopianospiels, aber es unterscheidet sich doch von dem, was ich bisher von dir solo gehört habe. Irgendwas scheint mir anders gelagert, aber ich kann es nicht genau fassen. Vielleicht ist das auch nur meine Einbildung. Den immensen Raum in Lugano hast du ja auch nicht zum ersten Mal bespielt.


„Es gab viele spezielle Situationen im Studio in Lugano, während der Arbeit an „Discourses“ – die meisten drehten sich um die Arbeit. Sowie intensives Hören, kleine Kommentare. Stille. Die Sache ist die, dass das Aufgehen in der Musik, die Konzentration, enorm waren, Aber das erste, was mir in Erinnerung kommt, ist, dass ich Manfred eine Menge Schweizer Münzen schulde. Nach der Landung, oder auch früh morgens, ging  ich stets gleich ins Studio, ich bekam es nie hin, mein Geld in Euros zu tauschen. Und jedesmal, wenn wir eine Kaffeepause machten, nahe den Toiletten, ausserhab des Studios, ist der Raum mit all den Kaffeemaschinen, ich hatte nie passende Münzen und ein ums andere Mal öffnete Manfred seine Geldbörse und fand die richtige Anzahl Münzen und besorgte mir den Kaffee. Das passierte wieder und wieder, und mit der Zeit machte es mich doch etwas verlegen. Also schulde im ich ihm tatsächlich eine Menge Kaffee. Wir hatten so viele gute Gespräche dort, während wie wir an den hohen Tischen standen und unseren Kaffee tranken, aus kleinen Plastikbechern.“  


(Jon Balke – his solo album is one of four solo piano albums (from four artists) ECM has released this year, more them ever, and will be part of my year‘s end radio night next Saturday – it‘s at the same time a disquieting and  seducing album. Steve Tibbetts will speak about one of the other solo piano works, Benjamin Moussay‘s „Promontoire“, and a bleak American autumn.)


Die Titel von „Discourses“ sind von programmatischer Strenge – the certainties, the suspension, the polarities usw. – und weisen,  Jon Balke zufolge, auf eine immer mehr aus den Fugen geratene politische Rhetorik der Ausgrenzung und  Unversöhnlichkeit. Tatsächlich haben die manchmal zögerlichen, eruptiven, Stille überspielenden Intonationen der menschlichen Sprache spezielle Rhythmisierungen  des Klavierspiels mit auf den Weg gebracht. Dabei sind diese, von allerlei Geräusch angereicherten, sich gleichsam „angreifbar“ machenden, Pianoklänge von jeder epischen Ausschmückung befreit. Dennoch erzeugen all diese prägnanten Stücke, wundersam paradox, einen verblüffend eleganten, kohärenten Spielfluss. 


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