Music: Sounds from a White Room

ECM starts its second decade as the world's top jazz label

Imagine a typical jazz recording session: a bunch of cooled-out dudes breeze into the studio some time between soon and whenever, take a drink or two, pass some smoke and lay down some tracks by and by. No sweat, no strain, see you later.

Forget it. That kind of scene may get by—marginally—in the movies, but at ECM Records it would be considered strictly for the tourist trade. There is a sort of house high-seriousness about all the diverse jazz on the ECM label. For its...

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