Fretshop Retrospective ECM records day 40

ECM 1286 Shankar “Song For Everyone” 1985.

September 1984, Shankar with his double neck 10 string violin hit the Oslo Norway studio with Jan Garbarek and his saxes, Trilok Gurtu and Zakir Hussien on percussions and Tabla. The schtick with the weird instrument is wearing a little thin on me at this point, but this record gets a serious uptick in heavy with Gurtu and Hussien who have created much great music over the years, stretching back to 1975’s Shakti with John McLaughlin. Garbarek plays his signature riffs over this work here too. I’ve heard so much of him at this point that I’m starting to hear his “I dunno what to play here so I’m gonna do this thing I’ve done a thousand times till I figure out whats next”. Not my favorite record but for Gurtu/Hussien fans its worth a listen.

ECM 1287 Bill Frisell “Rambler” 1985.

Frisell marched his guitar into the Power Station in NYC to match up with the legendary Paul Motion on drums here, who is returning the favor of Frisell playing on his leader sessions. Bob Stewart plays tuba. That’s really cool. Like really cool. Love me some tuba. Jerome Harris sits in on electric bass, known for his gig with Sonny Rollins, but manages to make himself quite transparent. Kenny Wheeler dominates on trumpet on several tracks, always a force whenever he starts blowing. But here it’s the heavily effects-laden electric guitar paired with the Tuba and the understated drums that really get me. Tuba. Have I mentioned how cool that is? This record seemed weird at first but as it unfolded I’m finding it to be way more engaging than my first impression. Worthy of a few listens more I’d say.

ECM 1288 Eberhard Weber “Chorus” 1985.

Disclaimer, I’m a die-hard Weber fan so I’m not gonna hate on him even if he farted in a mic and called it a masterpiece. Here he doesn’t in fact fart at all that I can hear. He plays great bass with the ever-present Jan Garbarek, and several German musicians not on his other works, Ralf Hubner drums, Manfred Hoffbaur clarinet, flute, and Martin Kustner on oboe and English Horn. This is a very bass heavy record. It’s another quiet pensive record save for Garbarek’s random intrusions; probably good things in that they keep it from being too dark in the end. It’s not a masterpiece. It’s moody and interesting. It’s very ECM sounding. I like it…even if he doesn’t fart.

ECM 1289 Kieth Jarrett “Standards Vol 2” 1985.

Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, and Gary Peacock hit the Power Station studio Manhattan in January 1983 for 2 days and recorded what would end up three records on ECM. This is the third. By far my favorite work from Jarrett, not the least of which is because his sidemen are so good that they 1. Keep up with him, 2. Kick his ass around a bit, 3. Bring serious game all on their own. Lovely tune choices, these much more unusual than the first set. Vol 1 garnered Billboard chart attention; this did not, but for no good reason. It’s great too. I just wish Eicher would have taped his mouth shut. It’s more distracting than Garbarek’s shouting jungle riff he plays in every single record he’s on.

ECM 1290 Everyman Band “Without Warning” 1985.

Guitarist David Torn’s project with Micheal Suchorsky on drums, Bruce Yaw on bass and Marty Fogel on reeds. Wacky jazz-rock fusion recorded at Todd Rundgren’s Bearsville Studios, an unusual ECM venue, without Eicher at the production desk. Wonder what happened there? Maybe another set of tapes he purchased and released after the fact? Trivia note, the sidemen all played with Lou Reed in the 70’s and early 80’s. The 80’s are starting to catch up to ECM here. This disc is the first time I heard the 80’s dated guitar and synth tones that were omnipresent at the time across the US and England. Torn is a maniac on guitar practically ripping the tremolo off it. It’s a nutty ride this record…mostly it’s bullshit though. Uneven, and most often irrelevant. Tunes are forgettable if there are any at all. So is the record.