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Esteemed Jazz Label ECM Hits 50 With Extended Anniversary Weekend

The weekend will feature numerous ECM artists and a talk with label founder Manfred Eicher.

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Manfred Eicher press photo Richard Schroeder
Photo © Richard Schroeder/ECM Records

Esteemed jazz label ECM’s 50th anniversary celebrations, which have taken place throughout 2019, now focus their attention on an extended Anniversary Weekend (21-24 November) at Flagey, the cultural venue in Brussels. It will feature such artists as Anouar Brahem, Anja Lechner, Larry Grenadier, Elina Duni, Nik Bärtsch, Julia Hülsmann, Avishai Cohen and Yonathan Avishai, as well as a talk with label founder Manfred Eicher.

A further celebration will take place in Poland with the ECM Warsaw Festival from 25-27 November. Then on 3-5 February 2020, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie will host the four-day homage “Reflektor Manfred Eicher.”

With the anniversary falling this month, ECM is marking 50 years of continuous independent music production. Under Eicher’s leadership, the company is widely recognised to have changed the contemporary soundscape, with an extensive body of work that addresses a wide range of musical idioms.

ECM50 celebrations began in the US with more than 20 concerts by label artists as part of the Big Ears festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, and with a label focus at Winter JazzFest in New York. There were further tributes in a weekend salute at La Fenice in Venice and four nights at Oslo’s Victoria Nasjonal Jazz Scene.

Over the last two months, dedicated ECM events have included an exhibition in Seoul, an ECM Week at the San Francisco Jazz Festival, two evenings at New York’s Rose Theatre, hosted by Jazz at Lincoln Centre, five concerts at Montreal’s International Jazz Festival and nights at the London Jazz Festival and Festival Jazz Milan.

The company’s new releases in this landmark year have included recordings of Keith Jarrett, Joe Lovano, Dominic Miller, Vijay Iyer/Craig Taborn, Louis Sclavis, Avishai Cohen/Yonathan Avishai, Paul Bley, Julia Hülsmann, Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan, Gianluigi Trovesi/Gianni Coscia, Maria Farantouri and many others. Highlights in ECM’s New Series include new albums by Eleni Karaindrou, András Schiff, Heinz Holliger/György Kurtág, Anna Gourari, Jan Garbarek/The Hilliard Ensemble and Thomas Zehetmair.

There has also been an expanded edition of Mal Waldron’s Free At Last from 1969, featuring previously unreleased takes, photos from the session and additional liner notes, ECM’s vinyl release programme expanded further with the addition of six classic albums, each making their first appearance in audiophile LP format.

These titles are Jan Garbarek’s In Praise of Dreams, with Kim Kashkashian and Manu Katché, Nils Petter Molvaer Khmer; Charles Lloyd’s Voice In The Night with John Abercrombie, Dave Holland and Billy Higgins; Anouar Brahem’s Le pas du chat noir and Manu Katché’s Neighbourhood with Jan Garbarek, Tomasz Stanko, Marcin Wasilewski and Slawomir Kurkiewicz.

Finally, 40 more recordings from ECM and sister label Japo that had been out of print were introduced this summer to streaming services via Universal Music Group. This completes the entire catalogue of ECM in the digital domain. ECM now moves forward with characteristically far-reaching programmes, in jazz and improvised music and in its New Series.

Listen to the best of ECM on Apple Music and Spotify.

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