Some decades ago, the only jazz I listened to was ECM jazz, Jarrett, Garbarek, Gismonti, Towner, John Abercrombie, John Surman ... slowly moving towards Arts Ensemble Of Chicago, Old & New Dreams, also on ECM, and opening in my young mind suddenly totally new realms of music, and ECM was soon almost forgotten, even though for many years it was the only label (almost) that I bought LPs from. The German label has kept its carefully nurtured positioning of chamber jazz, often inobtrusive, yet always of superb quality, both of the selected musicians as for the quality of its productions (sound, art work, booklets, ...). You can debate about the style and the lack of adventure, but on some evenings, on a Friday night, when you're flat out, everything is dark outside, the autumn wind blows, rain hits the windows, and the fire place heats the room, ... melancholy hits. The music is not guaranteed to keep you awake, but it is certainly to be enjoyed.
Ralph Towner & Paolo Fresu - Chiaroscuro (ECM, 2009) ****
Tomasz Stanko - Dark Eyes (ECM, 2009) ****
The title of the album is inspired by a painting by Polish artist Oskar Kokoschka, called Martha Hirsch.