John Surman :: Upon Reflection (ECM)

Here’s something to get lost in, the hypnotic world of British reedman John Surman, courtesy of his 1979 ECM effort, Upon Reflection. Recorded in Oslo, with production helmed by Manfred Eicher, the recording finds Surman in widescreen form experimenting with sequencers and synthesizers in addition to his duties working bass clarinet and baritone/soprano saxophone.

Wolfgang Muthspiel :: Angular Blues

There’s a particular clarity made possible by the trio format, something guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel, bassist Scott Colley, and drummer Brian Blade make clear on Angular Blues, Muthspiel’s fourth album as bandleader for the storied ECM label. This spacious arrangement makes for magnificent listening.

Deep Into Steve Tibbetts’ Life Of

On Steve Tibbetts’ Life Of, the new age trappings are gone, the subtle accompaniment of piano, “gong cycles,” gamelan influences (based on his travels and study in Bali and Nepal), the still-in-there-someplace Midwestern Kottke vibes, all synthesized so exquisitely. The secret sauce in his playing is partly due to his instrument; an old Martin D-12-20 12-string with worn down frets and dead strings. He describes it as having a “peculiar internal resonance, as though it has a small concert hall inside of it.”