ECM (record label)

ECM (Editions of Contemporary Music) is a record label founded in 1969 by Manfred Eicher, who has continued to take an active interest in the music released by the label, acting as producer on most of its recordings. ECM is best known for jazz music, but has released a wide variety of recordings, the artists associated with it often refusing to acknowledge boundaries between genres.

ECM initially concentrated on jazz, releasing records by artists including pianists Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and Paul Bley; saxophonists Jan Garbarek, Charles Lloyd and Anthony Braxton; vibraphone player Gary Burton; drummers Jon Christensen and Paul Motian; guitarists Pat Metheny, John Abercrombie, Bill Frisell and Terje Rypdal; bassists Eberhard Weber, Charlie Haden and Dave Holland; and the Art Ensemble of Chicago.

The ECM New Series was created in the 1980s to concentrate on classical works — it has released work by various composers, from the early (such as Thomas Tallis) to the contemporary (such as Arvo Pärt and Steve Reich). Keith Jarrett, better known as a jazz musician, has recorded several classical works by Bach, Mozart and others for the New Series.

On many releases, the jazz and classical sides of ECM are combined: for example, Garbarek's Officium (1994) sees him playing saxophone solos over the Hilliard Ensemble singing Gregorian chant, early polyphony and Renaissance works. John Potter of the Hilliard Ensemble has recorded works by John Dowland with jazz saxophonist John Surman and others, and Surman's Proverbs and Songs is a suite of choral settings of Old Testament texts, recorded in Salisbury Cathedral. The label has also released genre-crossing work by the likes of Stephan Micus and Meredith Monk, and world music – for example Tunisian oud musician Anouar Brahem and Indian violinist Shankar.

The typical ECM session is three days — two to record, one to mix; Eicher, in general, dislikes overdubbing.

The label has been distributed in the USA by Polydor and Polygram, and is now distributed by Universal Music.

ECM has recently released a series of compilation CDs called ":rarum". Twenty of the label's artists were asked to compile a single CD of their work for the label (Garbarek and Jarrett's compilations are double CDs). Artists who contributed to this series are Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Bill Frisell, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Terje Rypdal, Bobo Stenson, Pat Metheny, Dave Holland, Egberto Gismonti, Jack DeJohnette, John Surman, John Abercrombie, Carla Bley, Paul Motian, Tomasz Stanko, Eberhard Weber, Arild Andersen, Jon Christensen

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