Just before leaving the Ghent record fair without purchase, I discovered a crate with mint ECM records from a German vendor. All were reasonably priced at € 10. My budget was limited so I decided to go for 2 releases with Egberto Gismonti on, given the fact that I collect ECM records with the graphic design in mind they caught my eye.

First one is Gismonti's 1976 release 'Dança das Cabeças' teaming up with the late Nana Vasconcelos. The two wanted to create an atmosphere as walking through the rainforest keeping a distance between them, all the time communicating with their instruments and voices.

Second is 'Magico'. I think actually a recording filed under Garbarek's name. The trio with Charlie Haden stands for another ECM catalogue highlight. I must confess I always faverod Gismonti's piano playing over his guitar style. Both are of extreme beauty and personality but I never really got into his expression on guitar, until now. Time to study in more detail I guess.

After hearing part of this on YouTube I just had to own this album. It comes in the series that ECM reissued for a low price. Packaged in a mini gatefold sleeve, Gnu High is too beautiful for words. Here is this gathering of brilliant musicians under the umbrella of Kenny Wheeler. Wheeler a stylist first, playing for the form, well articulated.

At the same time he restrains his high carat companions in a positive way it seems, earning the respect he deserves. Jarrett is here to accompany, still keen to interact but stretching out only when it's his turn to solo. Holland is a roadworthy companion, we know, and DeJohnnette's sometimes to pushy trademark playing is a little bit further away in the mix this time. Which is fine for this setting.

Sometimes ECM reveals hidden treasures from the vault. Keith Jarrett's new album was recorded way back in 1986 and can be considered a follow-up to 1985's  "Spirits". Both "Spirits" and "No End" showcase the artist as a multi-instrumentalist recording in his home studio and not as the fierce (solo)piano Don Quichotte. Guitars, fender bass, tabla and recorder, even drums and percussion, are his main instruments of choice this time.

According to Jarrett "There was really, to my knowledge, no forethought or composition – in the typical sense – going on; just a feeling or a rhythmic idea or a bass line concept or melody. None of this was written down". And more surprising: "I have always been drawn to instruments that you touch directly, without a mechanism in between. Therefore, I cannot say that I have ever loved the piano as much as the drums or guitar"

Keith Jarrett No End album cover

In over 40 years ECM has build an outstanding catalogue of recordings. Next to that the label has been praised for their graphic design which has become a fascination for many record buyers. In the last years more and more publications about ECM have been published and became collectors items on their own.

A view examples: Horizons Touched: the music of ECM, Sleeves of Desire: a cover story and follow up Windfall Light: the visual language of ECM. Accompanying the exhibition ECM: Eine kulturelle Archäologie at Haus der Kunst in Munich is a book by the same name. Essays, round table discussions, full list of recordings and more, this a new must-have for every serious music book owner. Available in German and English.

ECM: Eine kulturelle Archäologie

The Jan Garbarek Group's 1993 album "Twelve Moons" marked the 500th release on Manfred Eicher's ECM record label. The title track, as noted on the CD inner sleeve, contains themes originally composed for the film "Around the year in Børfjord". These kind of references always make me curious but I never catched a glimpse until the internet days and found out that this was not your ordinary movie.

It turns out that the actual English title is "A Year along the Abandoned Road". Director Morten Skallerud moved a camera around the fjord for a long period capturing each day in a few seconds resulting in a year passing before the camera. There's an Wikipedia entrance here. Video can also be found on YouTube.