Juan Rodriguez: ESP and ECM’s freedom of expression

MONTREAL — They are probably the two most influential record labels of the last 50 years — enterprises that, in their own way, radically changed the shape and tenor of jazz. ESP-Disk and ECM were born within a few years of each other, sharing few esthetics other than that the recordings they released broke from the trajectory of the music — hot jazz, swing, bebop, cool, and post-bop.

The labels each forged an unmistakable identity, based on their own conceptions of freedom — ESP was wild as a hurricane, ECM was as refined as a sculpture — so much so that critics claimed it wasn’t jazz at all. Some claimed that ESP was just incoherent noise, that ECM was New Age parlour music. For the former, you had to sit straight up and listen; the latter could often be employed as background music, aural wallpaper.

Yet the fact remains that their rosters

Article source: http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/music/Juan+Rodriguez+freedom+expression/8860429/story.html

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