Introducing ECM

Introducing ECM

TIDAL is proud to present the renowned German label ECM (Edition of Contemporary Music), now available on streaming for the first time. The full catalog consists of more than 1600 titles with imaginative and creative music from a label continuously exploring new sonic territory and bridging musical worlds.

With emphasis on improvised music, producer Manfred Eicher founded ECM in 1969 and still follows his idiosyncratic vision. From its first release, Mal Waldron’s Free at Last (1969), the label built a steady reputation with numerous acclaimed and influential jazz recordings by Keith Jarrett, Paul Bley, Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, Gary Burton, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and many others.

“From the very beginning I wanted to record things with the utmost detail possible to get a sense of transparency, to get close to the musical structures. At the beginning we didn’t have a fixed concept, but there were musicians that I really liked. The idea was to approach improvised music with more of a chamber-music sensibility. The ‘gesture of listening’ was important to us.” Manfred Eicher, Wall Street Journal February 5, 2015

In the late 1970s the label began to include contemporary composition in its repertoire, including Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians and Meredith Monk Dolmen Music. To introduce Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa, ECM New Series was launched in 1984 as a sister label devoted mainly to written music. The New Series has since become a broad platform for a spectrum of composed music from the pre-baroque era to the present day. Contemporary composers regularly featured in the New Series include György Kurtág, Valentin Silvestrov, Tigran Mansurian, Erkki-Sven Tüür, Heinz Holliger, Helena Tulve and others.

One of ECM’s achievements has been to bring together players from different musical worlds. Keith Jarrett and Gidon Kremer collaborated on what remains the definitive reading of Pärt’s Fratres. The pairing of saxophonist Jan Garbarek and the Hilliard Ensemble on Officium proved both an artistic and popular success and led to twenty years of touring together. Another transcultural collaborations include the 2017 meeting between Tunisian oud player Anouar Brahem and jazz musicians Dave Holland, Jack DeJohnette and Django Bates on Blue Maqams.

ECM’s outstanding productions have received many awards and distinctions, including the Grand Prix du Disque (France), the Edison Award (Netherlands), the Grammy Award (USA), the Academy Award (Japan) and the annual prize of the German Record Critics. In 1999 Manfred Eicher was honored as ‘Producer of the Year’ by the American trade journals DownBeat, High Fidelity and Musician Magazine. In 2007 ECM was twice named ‘Label of the Year’, first at the MIDEM in Cannes for its classical music releases, and a few months later by the Jazz Journalists’ Association in New York. In 2008 the English trade journal The Gramophone made ECM its ‘Classic Label of the Year’. The international critics of the DownBeat Critics Polls named ECM their ‘Label of the Year’ and Manfred Eicher their ‘Producer of the Year’ in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. The same journal gave Eicher a lifetime achievement award in 2010.

For many listeners – as The Village Voice once pointed out – ECM has become “more like a genre than a label”, known not only for high standards of quality in music and production, but also for its distinct visual aesthetics. EYE: The International Review of Graphic Design, once described the label’s cover art: ECM has consistently produced sleeve designs of enigmatic and austere beauty. The label’s packaging exhibits the finest characteristics of the European Modernist tradition: minimalist sans serif typography fused with dream-like black and white photography. Ignoring design trends, the label has maintained a visual identity and stylistic voice that perfectly articulates the distinctive European aesthetic of the music.

Excellence has been an unswerving thread throughout ECM’s lengthy discography, in both its performances and quality of pressings since the label’s inception in the late 1960s. ECM’s catalog is one of the most revered in jazz. From the label’s earliest recordings, producer Manfred Eicher created a sound as singular as anything from Blue Note, Riverside, Contemporary, or Prestige. I believe ECM’s dedication to capturing the music of uniquely talented musicians in Eicher’s distinctive production esthetic has never faltered. ECM continues to pursue the atmospheric production and cerebral, forward-thinking music the label has pursued since day one. AudioFile,2016

(Source:, Universal Music)

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