ECM turns 50

German music label honored with first-weekend concerts

Anyone who has been a consumer of jazz (and classical) records or CDs over the past 50 years must surely be aware of the German label ECM.

It has released albums by dozens of jazz greats, including Keith Jarrett, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Pat Matheny, Mal Waldron, Vijay Iyer, John Abercrombie, Aaron Parks, Dave Holland, Paul Bley, Charles Lloyd, Don Cherry and many many more, yet the label has put out only a bit more than 1,500 titles in five decades.

That gives an idea of the level of curation founder Manfred Eicher brought and still brings to the project. He has sought a standard of perfection not just in the quality of the playing, but in the crystal clarity of the production and engineering as well as the thought that goes into the album artwork. Every ECM release came forth into record stores as a special event, and more often than not the records delivered on the promise. Read about the ECM catalog.

Somewhat ruefully, as the label turns 50 it has decided to sacrifice some of its tangible qualities by agreeing to turn its entire catalog over to streaming services. We thus celebrate ECM’s golden anniversary by acknowledging it has joined the 21st century. The Healdsburg Jazz Festival is happy to join in the party by presenting three special shows by ECM artists and guests:

Ralph Towner-Paul McCandless, Friday March 31 at Soda Rock Winery. Go here for more information.

DEJOHNETTE • COLTRANE • GARRISON, Saturday June 1 at the Raven Theater. Go here for more information.

Carla Bley Trio and Iverson-Turner Duo, Sunday June 2 at the Raven Theater. Go here for more information.