In last Sunday’s (12/27/2009) New York Times, Steve Smith writes, “Spend enough time pondering ECM, a revered German classical and jazz label celebrating its 40th anniversary, and you are tempted to ascribe mystical powers of foresight and intuition to its founder, Manfred Eicher, such are the strands of continuity and serendipity that wind through its history. Intense and youthful at 66, Mr. Eicher studied the violin while growing up in Munich, until he fell under the sway of jazz at 14 and took up the double bass. In Berlin he worked in an orchestra conducted by Istvan Kertesz and went on to play dates with German free improvisers and American visitors like the saxophonist Marion Brown. An avid collector of jazz LPs, Mr. Eicher became interested in making records himself. … For artists, and for consumers as well, part of the appeal has been Mr. Eicher’s emphasis on state-of-the-art sound and a cool, spacious aesthetic, with evocative cover art and intelligent liner notes. This approach, which helped ECM to build a following among aficionados and audiophiles alike, has inspired several books and countless imitators. Even now, with music consumption increasingly shifting from physical objects to digital downloads, Mr. Eicher’s releases still retain a sense of being coherent objects of art.”

Posted January 4, 2010