Fretshop Retrospective ECM records day 38

ECM 1274 Pierre Farve Ensemble “Singing Drums” 1984.

All drums all the time. This record has only percussives and things you beat with sticks. Four great stickmen on it. Pierre Farve, Paul Motian, Fredy Studer, Nana Vasconcelos. This is the first all drums ECM record to date, and it’s a good one. Really great sonics, lots of weird sounds and unusual tambers. I like this record a lot. You have to be in the mood for it, it’s got no chordal or melodic instruments on it. I don’t miss them here because it’s so varied and interesting and unique. Worth a spin for sure…maybe several.

ECM 1275NS Arvo Part “Tabula Rasa” 1984.

This is an iconic record. This is his debut recording of now-classic compositions. One of the top composers of the 20th century, his work is regularly taken for ballet soundtracks, movies, and other things. His melodies have worked their way into the musical consciousness of most of the cultured part of the planet one way or another. It’s outstanding music with perfect performances and recording; if you don’t know this work you owe it to yourself to find your way to it. ECM was brilliant for recording this; it’s where they have always excelled. They find unlikely musical genius and expose it to the world in high resolution. It’s a risk that often fails, but in this case, they made a shit ton of money—and they deserve it.

ECM 1276 Keith Jarrett “Changes” 1984.

Album 2 from the “Standards” sessions which were recorded in 2 days and produced 3 albums. These cuts are not “standards” but Jarrett compositions or group improvisations. The record is as fantastic as the Standards album with Peacock and DeJohnette providing outstanding fire and dimension to Jarrett’s work. Jarrett’s vocalizations during the performance remain annoying as hell and almost make the work unlistenable to me, but others don’t feel that way. Great jazz here. This is a special group that was creating the highest level of improvisation.

ECM 1277NS John Addams “Harmonium”

San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Edo DeWaart 1984. Another classical composer who debut this work in 1981 with this conductor and ensemble. It was recorded for ECM in January 1984 at their home in Davies Symphony Hall. Lovely piece. Expert Performance. Dreamy, pastel, It builds as it moves along becoming dramatic in a Mahlerian way. I might listen to this twice, it’s dense and packed with stuff. Each movement is the setting for three poems, one by John Donne, two by Emily Dickenson including “Because I could not stop for Death”. High art for certain. A worthy choice for ECM.

ECM 1278 Pat Metheny “First Circle” 1984.

Tracked at the Power Station in New York by Metheny on Guitars, Lyle Mays on Keys, Steve Rodby on bass, and replacing Gottlieb on drums is Paul Wertico. Pedro Aznar utility musician plays all kinds of stuff. This opens with a weird out of tune drum line thing that makes zero sense in the context of anything else. Whatever, they still won the Grammy for Best Fusion Jazz Album with this. This is the last ECM release for this ensemble. Geffen records picked them up from here. ECM’s stringent “track for 2 days, mix for one, that’s what your record is” policy was limiting to the group, they wanted to use the studio more as an instrument and work in more detail than was afforded at ECM…that and Geffen offered them a shit ton of cash…hard to come by in the world of Jazz. I like the rawness of their ECM days, and although they had even more popularity after Geffen, the freewheeling seat of your pants vibe was done and it became stringently more produced as it moved forward. This is a great record and worthy of multiple listens. I’ve heard it a bunch and never get sick of it.