Unless it was something new by the Art Ensemble of Chicago or Dave Holland, you could play me an ECM I've never heard, and chances are I could guess the label without being able to identify the players. The giveaway would be that reverberating silence between phrases, no doubt meant to signify a catch in the throat. The familiar joke about ECM—all of Manfred Eicher's records tell a story . . . usually the same one—dates to the early '70s, when the German label, buoyed by an unlikely vogue for Keith Jarrett's solo-thons, cornered a massive share of the dwindling U.S. jazz market with album after album whose chill cover landscapes and general air of weighty contemplation were more Rilke and Hesse than... More >>>