The next sound to silence
In the early days, ECM was known as the home for (primarily US-American) Jazz-musicians like Mal Wadron, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Paul Bley, Gary Burton, John Abercrombie, Paul Motian, Jack De Johnette, later Pat Metheny and Steve Tibbetts. Soon the musical horizon was broadened by musicians from Central-Europe (for example Wolfgang Dauner, Ralph Towner, Eberhard Weber, Enrico Rava, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, David Darling and Barre Phillips), and especially those from Northern Europe, like Jan Garbarek, Arild Anderson, Bobo Stenson, Edward Vesala, Art Lande and Terje Rypdal.

International artists distributed by ECM include Mike Nock, Anouar Brahem, Egberto Gismonti, Nana Vasconcelos, Shankar, Rabih Abou-Khalil or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. This multiethnic approach leads to astonishing results in diverse collaborations or concerts arranged by Manfred Eicher: different musical cultures get in touch, comfort and challenge each other, resulting in new musical experience and exciting recordings.

Manfred Eicher's focus lies very much on the sound of the recordings, and in Jan-Erik Kongshaug he has found the perfect production-partner. Some critics say typical ECM-productions would sound flat and soft, but one might argue that the label's back-catalogue is far too varied in intensity and complexity to define a "generic" ECM-sound.

ECM has never been a mainstream-label, and each production requires careful listening and engagement. Music, sound, style, but also silence form the cornerstones for the philosophy behind ECM. Manfred Eicher himself coined a phrase to describe his works: "The next sound to silence". The most commercially successful ECM-productions so far have been Keith Jarrett's "Koeln Concert" and "Officium", Jan Garbarek's collaboration with the famous Hilliard Ensemble. Chart-listed and hugely acclaimed albums like these pave the way for new ambitious and experimental productions to come. Hopefully Manfred Eicher will be able to preserve ECM's independent status and defy the attempts of a major company - unlike Stefan Winter's less lucky label JMT (Jazz Music Today) that was taken over by Polygram Japan.

> Rolf Becker's Top 20 ECM titles

Saxophone-player Jan Garbarek: he recorded ECM's most successful CD "Officium" in collaboration with the Hilliard Ensemble

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= The next sound to silence
> Rolf Becker's Top 20 ECM titles
> A guideline to ECM