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New From ECM: Amina Alaoui Ensemble, Marilyn Mazur, Michael Mantler

Three New Offerings from ECM, possibly the finest recording company in the world.

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Marilyn Mazur Celestial Circle
ECM 2228

Marilyn Mazur drums, percussion, voice
John Taylor piano
Josefine Cronholm voice
Anders Jormin double-bass

“Marilyn Mazur’s work has always expressed a free-spiritedness beyond idioms and borders. Born in New York, raised in Denmark, she has contributed powerfully to improvisation on both sides of the Atlantic, and her resume has included stints with Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter and Gil Evans as well as 14 years on the road with the Jan Garbarek Group. In recent years her own groups have been the primary focus and the adventurous, song-oriented Celestial Circle has been active since 2008. The present disc is the group’s first recording. Material intersperses songs and instrumentals penned by Mazur with collectively improvised trios and duos. Singer Josefine Cronhom (who previously worked with Mazur in the Percussion Paradise ensemble) has her ECM debut here and old friends John Taylor and Anders Jormin make welcome returns.”

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Amina Alaoui Ensemble Arco Iris
ECM 2180

Amina Alaoui vocals, daf
Saïfallah Ben Abderrazak violin
Sofiane Negra oud
José Luis Montón flamenco guitar
Eduardo Miranda mandolin
Idriss Agnel percussion

“Following her outstanding performance in collaborative work with Jon Balke and Jon Hassell on the Siwan recording of 2007/8, Moroccan-born singer Amina Alaoui presents her own border-transcending project. When Alaoui sings there is “no need to discuss the origins of fado, flamenco or Al Andalusi” for the music itself explores the common crucible of the styles, and Amina’s delivery makes the interconnections impossible to miss. She is superbly accompanied by her outstanding ensemble in which violin often echoes the voice, and oud, flamenco guitar and sparkling mandolin surround it. Guitarist José Luis Montón from Barcelona has a strong following amongst flamenco adherents worldwide. Mandolinist Eduardo Miranda was born in Brazil, has lived the last two decades in Portugal, and links choro and fado styles through a vocabulary influenced by jazz. Violinist Saïfallah Ben Abderrazak and oud player Sofiane Negra are from Tunisia. Idriss Agnel, Amina’s son, plays percussion and adds a shimmer of electric guitar.”

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Michael Mantler For Two
ECM 2139

Bjarne Roupé guitars
Per Salo piano

“The concise and relatively short pieces featured on this new recording continue Michael Mantler’s basic concept of creating music that is in part completely notated, but also involves improvisation. It is here reduced to a minimum, possibly his simplest and most economic interpretation of that idea so far, with only two instruments: the piano representing his basically orchestral compositional concept with a soloist from contemporary new music (a “classical” non-improvising pianist), combined with a second player coming from jazz, the guitarist (improvising and freely interpreting).”

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