Edition of Contemporary Music, or ECM, is one of the world's most significant labels for jazz and avant-garde music. The artists they've represented include big names like Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett. Now Munich's Haus der Kunst is celebrating the label's contribution to the music world with an exhibition of films, photos and installations.
Manfred Eicher gave up his post as bassist with the Berlin Philharmonic to found ECM in 1969. For years, he had been dissatisfied with the quality of the jazz recordings he listened to. Eicher tapped into his experience in classical music and professionalized the current recording techniques. The result was a crystal-clear sound.
Manfred Eicher was not just a music producer, but a creative musical partner as well. He had perfect pitch and often stood at the soundboard himself. He also accompanied his musicians on tour, and is seen here (right) with American trumpet player Don Cherry.
At ECM, it wasn't just the music that was straightforward, but also the packaging. The clarity of the sound they were after was reflected in the visual presentation of the recordings as well, from the very beginning. The first ECM album, "Free at Last" by jazz pianist Mal Waldron, sported a simple illustration rather than a portrait of the artist.
These colorful cardboard boxes hold valuable treasures - the original master tapes from numerous ECM productions, including albums from Evan Parker, Jack DeJohnette and Carla Bley. The priceless recordings are secured behind bars so museum visitors don't take home any "souvenirs."
With Keith Jarrett's "Köln Concert," ECM set the worldwide standard in the industry. Today, the double album is a classic and, with 3.5 million copies sold, the most successful solo piano concert of all time. That was unthinkable at the time, in 1975.
When Keith Jarrett arrived at the Cologne Opera House for the concert, the grand piano hadn't been tuned and the musician wanted to cancel the concert. But Manfred Eicher encouraged him to stay and completely improvise the entire concert. The rest is music history.
Filmmakers like Theo Angelopoulos and Jean-Luc Godard were fascinated by Manfred Eicher's story and ECM provided the soundtracks for their films. "If you listen to the soundtrack of my film without the picture, it's even better," admitted Godard. Fittingly, photos from his film "Nouvelle Vague" can be seen in the Munich exhibition together with the film music.
With names like Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett is one of the most important labels for jazz and avant-garde music in the world. Now a Munich exhibition takes a closer look at the label.