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Chess, Blue Note and...ECM Records?

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Been looking through recent acquisitions and I've come to the conclusion that there aren't very many actual record labels that have had a profound effect on my musical life. Of course, when it comes to rock, there was Columbia, but it wasn't really known for all that many artists I've followed for decades. Then there was MCA, which ended up being more infamous than famous.


As an adult, I've gotten much more into jazz and blues than rock. Don't get me wrong, I still listen to plenty of rock, but I don't chase the newest shiny thing in that genre. I'm more likely to seek out classic prog that's "new to me" than actually new. So the record labels that have really shaped my musical adventures are few and far between. Chess and Blue Note are probably the two most people know; Chess for blues guys like Muddy and Howlin' Wolf, and Blue Note for everyone from Lee Morgan to Wayne Shorter.


Lately I've been on an ECM kick, though, and I realized they could use their own thread. I'm not sure there's even a way to search for it, as ECM is only three letters long. Anyway, what the hell, I don't post much anymore, so why not go big when I do?


Most people who have a passing familiarity with ECM might know them for recordings by Chick Corea, Mal Waldron, Gary Burton, Keith Jarrett Jack DeJohnette and/or Pat Metheny. But a lot of the artists I've discovered via the ECM label--and whose work I've sought out obsessively thereafter--are probably nowhere near as well known.


So here are a few names worth checking out.


Eberhard Weber

Terje Rypdal

John Abercrombie

Ralph Towner

Barre Phillips

Jan Garbarek

Dave Holland

Jon Christensen

Arild Andersen

John Surman

Tomasz Stańko

David Darling

Ketil Bjørnstad


There are others, but it would be tedious to list them all. Really, you can't go wrong with any of these guys, especially their work on ECM.

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2 hours ago, Mr. Heartbreak said:

I think you're right--the only thing I have by them is something called Phase One! Any particular recommendations?


Nice Guys is a great one. Urban Bushmen is a classic. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them, though.

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I really enjoy the Gateway album with John Abercrombie, Jack DeJohnette, and Dave Holland.  Especially the opening tune.  I remember the first time I heard it, maybe ten years ago, I thought "Nels definitely lifted some of Abercrombie's shit."  Haha.


Bill Frisell was a major player in the ECM universe for a while, but I generally prefer his post-ECM releases. 

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Yeah, I love the Gateway material. Holland and DeJohnette are great, and Abercrombie is a monster. I got turned on to Abercrombie in the late 80s or early 90s, and that was one of my first ECM deep dives. His Timeless album is incredible. 


Thanks for the recommendations, calvino!

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