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October 2 , 2009

ECM New Series: Classical Label of the Year 2009

ECM wins international awards from leading magazines as both classical and jazz label of the year. Producer of the year award for Manfred Eicher. Album of the year prize for “Siwan” CD. Musician of the year prize for Enrico Rava. Lifetime achievement award for Eberhard Weber. Major album releases, books, films and a festival round out ECM’s extraordinary 40th anniversary year.

ECM New Series: Classical Label of the Year 2009

ECM New Series is officially Label of the Year, UK magazine Gramophone confirms. ECM’s producer Manfred Eicher was on hand to accept The Classic FM Gramophone Award 2009 at a presentation ceremony in London on October 2nd.
Writing about the award in the special Awards Issue of Gramophone, editor James Jolly says, “In an age of increasing standardisation, it’s good to salute genuine individuality. Each year we pay tribute to a record label that demonstrates a winning blend of creativity, imagination, business acumen, style – all adding up to that word again: individuality. This year we turn the spotlight on a label that has been ploughing its particular furrow with notable success for 40 years, ECM, and more particularly for “classical music” fans, its New Series... While many companies shy away from contemporary music, Manfred Eicher seeks it out – and again it’s a tribute to his taste and extraordinary judgement that many of the composers he’s championed have gone on to become familiar names: Arvo Pärt, Giya Kancheli, Valentin Silvestrov and Erkki-Sven Tüür, to name just four. And ECM, once it has found a musician to champion, does it properly, not merely with a single disc but often exploring different genres of that musician’s art. And of course that is one incentive to stay with the label and follow the lead it so obviously offers. Add to the provocative A&R, first-class musicianship, invariably demonstration-worthy recording quality and the label’s trademark design – usually black and white, always slipcased, and adorned not with a going-through-the-motions programme note but something altogether more challenging – and you have all the ingredients that have convinced us that this, of all years, belongs to Manfred Eicher and his wonderful ECM label.”

ECM: Jazz Label of the Year 2009; Manfred Eicher: Producer of the Year 2009

In DownBeat’s Annual Critics Poll in 2008, ECM was voted label of the year and founder Manfred Eicher producer of the year. In 2009 the positions are maintained – ECM as # 1 label, Eicher as #1 producer. Full results of the poll were published in the August 2009 issue of the venerable US jazz magazine.

“Siwan”: Album of the Year 2009

The debut ECM recording of the “Siwan” ensemble formed by Jon Balke with singer Amina Alaoui has won the German Critics Prize - the Große Deutsche Schallplattenpreis - as Album of the Year 2009. This transcultural project brings together aspects of the Moroccan Gharnati vocal tradition with improvisation and arrangements for a baroque string ensemble, with soloists including US trumpeter Jon Hassel and Algerian violinist Kheir Eddine M’Kachiche.

Enrico Rava wins European Jazz Prize

Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava, whose international profile has been boosted through a renewed association with ECM since 2003’s “Easy Living” album, has just been announced as the winner of the European Jazz Prize 2009. This major award, sponsored by the city of Vienna, draws upon votes from jurors in 23 European countries. The prize will be presented to Rava at Vienna’s Porgy and Bess club on March 26, 2010, and on the following day he will also give a concert there. Rava’s most recent ECM recording is “New York Days” (with Stefano Bollani, Mark Turner, Paul Motian, and Larry Grenadier).

Lifetime Achievement Award for Eberhard Weber

German bassist Eberhard Weber is to receive the Albert Mangelsdorff Preis 2009 in recognition of his life’s work as an innovative musician and pioneer of European jazz. The prize, the biggest German jazz award, is given by the Union of German Jazz Musicians and supported with a stipend from performance rights organization GEMA. The award ceremony will taker place in Berlin on November 6. In time for the event, ECM will reissue the three albums made by Weber’s band Colours - “Yellow Fields”, “Silent Feet”, Little Movements” - as a boxed set.

Major releases in Autumn 2009

Forty years after its founding in the Fall of 1969, ECM continues to lead the field with state-of-the-art productions of jazz improvisation, classical music and contemporary composition. Releases this autumn include: “Dresden”, the first live recording by the immensely popular Jan Garbarek Group; “Testament”, Keith Jarrett solo performances from London and Paris; “Stone In The Water”, an ECM debut for Stefano Bollani’s “Danish Trio”; “Dark Eyes” by Tomasz Stanko with a new quintet of young “Nordic” players, and more. In the ‘classical’ New Series there are important new releases by Thomas Zehetmair playing Paganini’s Caprices and András Schiff playing Bach’s Partitas, Kim Kashkashian exploring powerful contemporary music from Israel and Armenia, and the Rosamunde Quartett and singer Christian Gerhaher rediscovering the highly expressive music of Othmar Schoeck. Full details at www.ecmrecords.com

ECM Festival in and around Mannheim Castle

A special four-day event honouring ECM’s 40 year history will take place at Mannheim Castle from 22nd to 25th October, in the wider context of the Enjoy Jazz Festival. Its programme brings together artists and ensembles from a broad spectrum of the label’s catalogue, including the New Series. Amongst the featured artists: John Abercrombie Quartet, Thomas Zehetmair/Ruth Killius; Egberto Gismonti/Alexandre Gismonti, Keller Quartett, Terje Rypdal/Miroslav Vitous/Gerald Cleaver, Dino Saluzzi/Anja Lechner, Louis Sclavis Quintet, Ralph Towner/Paolo Fresu, Alexi Lubimov Trio, Anouar Brahem Group, Enrico Rava New York Days Project.
Alongside the concerts, the festival incorporates a rare screening of “Holozän”, the film by Heinz Bütler and Manfred Eicher inspired by Max Frisch’s novella, and an international symposium in which leading critics and musicologists will address ECM’s role in the ongoing dialogue between American and European jazz, as well as changing relationships between improvisation and contemporary composition.


New ECM Cover Book

In 1996, Lars Müller Publishers of Baden,Switzerland, issued “Sleeves of Desire”, the first study of ECM cover art. Now Müller follows up with a new volume, bringing the story of ECM artwork up to date. The 450-page book, to be issued in November, will be available in both English and German editions entitled, respectively, “Windfall Light: The Visual Language of ECM” and “Der Wind, das Licht: ECM und das Bild”. A stunning collection of ECM photography and graphics, with a concluding section featuring all ECM covers from Mal Waldron’s “Free At Last” (1969) to Keith Jarrett’s “Testament” (2009), the book also incorporates texts by Thomas Steinfeld, Geoff Andrew, Katharina Epprecht, Ketil Bjørnstad and Lars Müller.

The Producer as Film Director: Holozän

In 1990/91 Manfred Eicher and Heinz Bütler co-directed “Holozän” a film based on the Max Frisch novella “Man in the Holocene”, starring Erland Josephson and Sophie Duez, and with photography by Giorgos Arvanitis. The film was awarded the Special Jury Prize of the Locarno Festival in 1992, but has been little seen, outside the art film festival circuit, since then. It is at last available to a wider audience via German book publishers Surhrkamp, who are issuing the film as a DVD in their Filmedition series this autumn. Underpinning the striking cinematic images and Josephson’s compelling performance is a rich soundtrack with music of Bach, Bartók, Garbarek, Hindemith, Jarrett, and Shostakovich.

Sounds and Silence: On the Road with ECM’s Producer

“Sounds and Silence: Unterwegs mit Manfred Eicher” is a new documentary about ECM’s producer. Over a period of five years, Swiss filmmakers Norbert Wiedmer and Peter Guyer followed producer Manfred Eicher and the artists of ECM around the world. In footage from Estonia, Tunisia, Germany, France, Denmark, Greece, Argentina and elsewhere, their documentary movie “Sounds and Silence”, captures aspects of the music-making process at ECM, and gives glimpses of unique players and composers at work. Amongst them: Arvo Pärt, Eleni Karaindrou, Dino Saluzzi and Anja Lechner, Anouar Brahem, Gianluigi Trovesi, Marilyn Mazur, Nik Bärtsch, Kim Kashkashian, Jan Garbarek and many others. The film was premiered at Locarno’s Piazza Grande in August and in late October will be shown at the Hof Film Festival in Germany. In early 2010, the film goes to the cinemas.

The new ECM illustrated catalogue – 2009/10 edition - is now available at good record shops everywhere.