Enrico Rava, Tomasz Stanko, Dave Holland Quartet, Terje Rypdal / Miroslav Vitous / Jack DeJohnette, Gary Burton Quintet, Bill Frisell, Gismonti / Vasconcelos, Anour Brahem, Dino Saluzzi, Norma Winstone, and Lester Bowie
The Pilgrim and the Stars, Balladyna, Extensions, Rypdal / Miroslav Vitous / Jack DeJohnette, Dreams So Real, Lookout for Hope, Rambler, Duas Vozes, Conte de L'Incroyable Amour, Kultrum, Somewhere Called Home, and The Great Pretender (ECM)
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Dec. 19, 2008
This holiday, the ECM jazz institute regifts 40 catalog classics spanning 1971-1993, "new packaging, special price." Inner science complements winter like pie. Teasing the Italian trumpet classicist's Jan. 27 release New York Days, Enrico Rava's stellar ECM debut, The Pilgrim and the Stars (1975), glows in the firelight of his brass haze and John Abercrombie's guitar embers "By the Sea." Polish peer Tomasz Stanko trumpets his own label bow the following year, armed with double-bass profundo Dave Holland rumbling seismic along the fissures of Balladyna, ravished by sax insurrectionist Tomasz Szukalski. Instead of blowing out, Dave Holland Quartet hosts Extensions of the mind, 1990, alto-sax surgeon Steve Coleman, six-stringer Kevin Eubanks, and percussion engineer Marvin "Smitty" Smith trading neural expertise on "Nemesis" and 14 bottomless minutes of "The Oracle." Terje Rypdal/Miroslav Vitous/Jack DeJohnette surfed brain waves a decade earlier, the guitar/bass/drums trio melting snow eponymously in Oslo with laser cymbalism and crying strings. Pat Metheny liquefies crystals via 1976's Dreams So Real by the Gary Burton Quintet. The leader's good vibes pit mallets vs. guitar picks ("Ictus/Syndrome") as they inhabit a reverie from the Carla Bley songbook. Bill Frisell submerges Metheny's airy guitar method in an amniotic roots fluidity all his own, 1988's mesmeric Lookout for Hope intimating the more outré Rambler three years previous with horn wrangler Kenny Wheeler, Bob Stewart's tuba, and "Wizard of Odds" beat master Paul Motian. 1985 also journeyed to the center of Brazilian rain forestry guided by the Duas Vozes of Egberto Gismonti (guitar/piano/flute) and rhythm king Nana Vasconcelos. Water-pelted foliage redone in hand claps on "Bianca" gives feisty "Don Quixote" an end run for his windmill. Tunisian oud mystic Anouar Brahem knows that fighting Conte de L'Incroyable Amour (1992) is futile, so his caress stills the ear like a whisper ("Lumière du Silence"), while Argentine Dino Saluzzi's wheezy bandoneón psychedelicizes tango's native tongue into a hypnotic Kultrum (1983). While Saluzzi moans and intones, English dove and 2008 Grammy nominee Norma Winstone adds smoked lyricism to the exotica of Wheeler and Gismonti on the snowy hearth of 1987's Somewhere Called Home. Finally, forever-mourned trumpeter Lester Bowie (d. 1999) does to jazz standards such as 1981's The Great Pretender and "It's Howdy Doody Time" what George Clinton did to R&B: supersonic soul emancipation. More pie please. www.ecmrecords.com.