ECM Records spokesman Steve Lake revealed that dozens of the label’s out-of-print albums were in the process of being digitized during a panel discussion at the Big Ears Festival in March. The deluge of castoffs from my favorite record label recently hit streaming services. I’m drowning in improvised European sounds. Capsule reviews of ten titles follow. While none of the ostensible duds by prominent artists and obscurities by relative unknowns are unheralded masterpieces, each merits the consideration of listeners with similar predilections. The albums are listed in order of my personal preference.
Enrico Rava Quartet- Ah (1980)
Tom van der Geld and Children at Play- Out Patience (1977)
Akin to a new age version of Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch.
Rena Rama- Landscapes (1977)
Echoes of Old and New Dreams.
Enrico Rava Quartet- Opening Night (1982)
Jack DeJohnette’s Directions- Untitled (1976)
Arild Andersen- Lifelines (1981)
The trumpet and flugelhorn of Kenny Wheeler shine on the date led by the Norwegian bassist.
Steve Kuhn Quartet- Last Year’s Waltz (1982)
The live recording with vocalist Sheila Jordan is entirely unlike an ECM production.
Hajo Weber and Ulrich Ingenbold- Winterreise (1982)
Om- Kirikuki (1976)
Imagine a collaboration between the ethereal flautist Paul Horn and the noisy guitarist James “Blood” Ulmer.
Gary Burton Quartet- Easy as Pie (1981)
His least rewarding album.
I write weekly concert previews for The Kansas City Star.
(Original image of Hyeyoung Shin’s “Tide” at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art by There Stands the Glass.)