Vijay Iyer/Wadada Leo Smith, Vitous and Bärtsch albums head up ECM new releases


A tantalising first-time duo collaboration between much-feted pianist Vijay Iyer and heavyweight trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, entitled A cosmic rhythm with every stroke, is among the highlights of ECM’s busy first quarter release schedule. With a UK release date of 18 March, the album was recorded in October 2015 at New York’s Avatar Studios with label boss Manfred Eicher on production duties, capturing Iyer and Smith’s first foray into working as a duo, both having worked extensively together in Smith’s Golden Quartet. The album’s centerpiece is a suite dedicated to innovative Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990), whose abstract imagery has inspired some extremely sensitive improvisation and compositions, which also include Iyer’s ‘Passage’ and Smith’s ‘Marian Anderson’ – inspired by the acclaimed US contralto singer.

Other highlights from the label include trumpeter Avishai Cohen’s Into the Silence on 29 January and Michael Formanek & Ensemble Kolossus’ The Distance (released 12 February) which features an 18-piece big band of some of New York’s finest players on the bassist/composer’s richly textured originals. These are followed by Ralph Alessi Quartet’s Quiver and Anat Fort Trio with Gianluigi Trovesi’s Birdwatching on 26 February.

Swiss pianist Nik Bärtsch debuts his Mobile Ensemble – that adds a string section to his core trio of bass/contrabass clarinettist Sha and drummer Kaspar Rast – with the album CONTINUUM; and finally revered bass virtuoso Miroslav Vitous’ Music of Weather Report album – both titles are set for release on 4 March. See the April issue of Jazzwise for an exclusive interview with Vijay Iyer and Wadada Leo Smith.

– Mike Flynn

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