If you came of age in the vinyl era you may have expanded your musical horizons by scanning the credits on record sleeves and booklets. You may have noticed that certain musicians, engineers and producers’ names kept coming up time and time again. These were often signposts for new paths to follow that would lead to further discovery of new music. It’s like looking at a healthy root system that eventually leads you up and out to broader vistas. In the jazz world, sometimes you’d just look for a label. Maybe it’s ECM, or Blue Note, or Verve. But root systems are varied and you need to pay attention.
What am I getting at? Well, I like many musicians on the ECM label. Many are from Norway and they frequently work on others’ projects. As you’ll note from the recent glut of portraits of ECM artists I’ve posted, a few of these fine players have come through town recently; Thomas Strønen, Tord Gustavsen, Anat Fort and Avishai Cohen. After failing to scan the credits on their releases in recent years, I missed the name Mats Eilertsen.
As his smoking hot trio played here at Ironworks in June as part of the Jazz Fest, I noticed Thomas Strønen was on drums! I’d seen Thomas with his duo Food and only just recalled that Mats was an original member of that group. Then later, after photographing Tord Gustavsen, I saw that Mats was the bassist on his two most recent ECM quartet albums. In short, Mats has been an integral part of so many great recordings and his trio is a delight.
And now he has his first release on ECM as leader. It’s called Rubicon and it’s out this month. On first listen it’s both classic ECM and a fresh reach with a large cast of new-ish players. I’ll be scanning the credits a little more carefully from now on.
Here’s the trio: