ECM: 40 favourites

22 thoughts on “ECM: 40 favourites”

    1. Absolutely right! I’ll have to choose an alternative, but leave your comment here as testimony to my sloppiness. Thanks for putting me right.

  1. I would like to thank you for this post. I recently found and took a dive into ECM records. My first artist was Anouar Brahem, and I absolutely loved all his discography.
    You were a great help into opening eyes, ears and new doors. Thank you!
    Also, if you added a couple more albums to the list (I realize this is a fairly old post) please be kind and share them with me.

  2. What!! No early Pat Metheny??
    Ignore the fact that over the many years since he left ECM Metheny’s become a multinational corporate salesman (check all that merchandise) and cash grabbing monster, then please go revisit his recorded work as a young artist, when under the guidance of the great Manfred Eicher.
    Excuse me, as I’m now almost as grumpy as old man Jarrett.

    1. Well, in certain moods, I do like As Falls Wichita or Bright Size Life – but not as much as any of those here. What are your favourites?

      1. As Falls Wichita!
        The first track of this record is just magical to my ears! One of my most preferred ones.

  3. My Metheny ECM favourite (by a whisker only) is often referred to as “the white album”, you know, the self-titled Pat Metheny Group, although I love all his releases on ECM.
    Eberhard Weber’s band Colours hugely impressed me too at one of their late ’70s gigs I caught, so I began buying their LPs… and ECM’s having issued a box set of three of the band’s early albums is an excellent example of the ethos of both the label and of Eberhard’s group.
    In my humble grumble, it irritatingly appears to me, far too much praise gets heaped upon Keith Jarrett, whereas it would be nice if Tord Gustavsen received a lot more thoughtful attention; I’m gladdened somewhat, therefore, you’ve included TG’s The Ground in your Top 40, Gerry.
    To conclude here, if Jan Garbarek put away his soprano sax in its case, vowing never to blow it again, I wouldn’t mind. As is also the situation with Pat Metheny’s output: ENOUGH ALREADY!! Now shut the **** up and make room for some fresh talent.
    (I thank you.)

  4. I was very pleased to find this article, and am very grateful to the author for his hard work in compiling the list and offering his thoughts.

    Declan Lewis, I couldn’t disagree more about Garbarek. I don’t think there’s a living musician whose output is as consistently awe-inspiring as his. Go back and listen to ‘Malinye’ (from ‘Rites’) and tell me there isn’t something supernatural happening in the crescendo.

  5. Gerry, a very lovely selection. Great insightful comments on all. I’ve got about 325 ECMs in my jazz collection, including many of your picks. Do you have Angel Song by Kenny Wheeler? In my mind, the most subtle and moving of all ECM releases. I’ve probably listened to it more than all the others put together! My most recent ECM favorites are Trios by Carla Bley and Saltash Bells by John Surman – his masterpiece, IMHO. By the way, loved your story of the Koln Concert. Cheers, RM

    1. Thanks, Robert. No, I don’t have Angel Song by Kenny Wheeler, but on the strength of your recommendation I’ve just ordered it (quid pro quo for the Dylan). I wrote that ECM 40 list some time ago, so there are many more recent releases that would figure in my favourites – The Athens Concert with the Charles Lloyd Quartet and Maria Farantouri ( and is way up there in my greatest of greats. Trygve Seim’s Purcor is another brilliant album (, and Tord Gustavsen’s Extended Circle is, I think, his best yet. I entirely agree with you about Trios and Saltash Bells (the latter almost, but not quite, up there with Biography of Rev Absalom Dawe and Road to St Ives ( If you don’t already know Carla Bley’s Lost Chords albums (not on ECM) seek them out – her quartet with Any Sheppard, Steve Swallow and Bill Drummond have three albums out. And speaking of Andy Sheppard – he’s been a favourite of mine for a long time and is now recording for ECM – Movements in Colour ( and Trio Libero ( (seek out his Deep River album with pianist Joanna McGregor – outstanding . If you’re deeply into ECM then you should get hold of the brilliant DVD Sounds And Silence: Journeys with Manfred Eicher ( Enough! I don’t know what life would be like these last few decades without Manfred and ECM.

      1. “I don’t know what life would be like these last few decades without Manfred and ECM”

        Agreed, Gerry.

        There are, for every person, some things so beautiful they can’t live without.

        ECM has so many of those it’s almost impossible to keep count.

        The intro to ‘Innocence’ on Jarrett’s Personal Mountains was going through my head as I wrote it, but it could just as easily have been ‘We Are The Stars’ or ‘Astrakhan Cafe’ or ‘Sometime Ago/La Fiesta’.

  6. Great list, and I agree with you about the single, out-of-place track on Jarrett’s My Song– I think Garbarek was asked to perform something that was beyond him– Redman would’ve excelled at that ‘sheets-of-sound’ music.

  7. Hi: Great stuff but somewhat surprised (crestfallen?) that there is nary a mention of Ralph Towner and his great recordings in Oslo and Germany with the likes of Garbarek, Jarret, Dejohnette, etc.
    SURELY, Towner deserves some mention especially his composition ‘The Glide’ from his 1984 LP Crossing (as part of Oregon) or ‘Distant Hills’ from the LP Solstice Sound and Shadows (1977).
    Tremendous list and commentary that you’ve assembled.

    1. Thanks for your response, Grahame. Regarding Towner – it’s just a personal thing, but on the whole the albums by him that I’ve heard don’t move me as much as the 40 here. But thanks for the suggestions – I’ll certainly seek out ‘Distant Hills’.

  8. John Ambercrombie’s ‘Class Trip’ is one my favorite ECM records (but there are great records in the catalogue).

  9. Great recommendations btw, I will definately check out ´New York Day´s by Enrico Rava (I only know ´The Pilgrim and the Stars’, another ECM favorite).

  10. No Steve Tibbetts indeed! Anyway it’s a personal thing so no worries.

    How can I convince ECM to embrace the vinyl medium again?

    Anyway thanks for taking the time to remind us what a magnificent label ECM are!

  11. Found some really awesome ECM albums to listen to, so thanks for this list. I would definitely put a Towner/Peacock album on it, but as mentioned in the intro, it’s Gerry’s top 40 list and not mine;-)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s