Jimmy Winokur

My Favorite Musicians -- Page 3
and some personal background

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My favorite Musicians:
Page 1
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Page 4



ECM Records

A major part of my jazz experience over the years has been my encounter with the European (mostly) jazz record label, ECM (Editions of Contemporary Music).  The extraordinary role of ECM and its unique sound has been widely debated, and is difficult to describe.  To give some hints, here are some attempts.

Manfred Eicher,
Founder,  ECM

I wrote about ECM music in an Amazon.com review of Horizon's Touched, an exquisite book devoted to the ECM experience:

"It has been 35 years since Manfred Eicher's brilliant ECM label released Gary Burton's and Chick Corea's wonderful collaboration Crystal Silence.

It is 38 years since the label was first launched. .

Since then, ECM has created and released so vast and extraordinary a collection of music - path breaking improvisational music, often jazz that does not swing -- that adventurous jazz lovers have come to know the "ECM sound." Over its lifetime so far, it has released the work of a huge range of artists, including these extraordinary albums:
Oregon, Dave Holland's Prime Directive, Keith Jarrett's The Köln Concert, John Abercrombie's Timeless, Kenny Wheeler's Angel Song, Trygve Seim's Different Rivers, Ralph Towner's and Gary Burton's Matchbook, and Art Lande & Mark Isham's Rubisa Patrol.




When the Portland Jazz Festival honored the anniversary of Crystal Silence's release in February, 2007, listeners, critics and ECM representatives spent hours in lively seminars seeking words to define this ECM Sound. For me, that sound is usually abstract, pristinely clear and spare in production, often with the disciplined ambiance of chamber music, and always original."

Writing in 2007 about the same book in "Manfred Eicher: ECM Squared" Philip Baker said:

"The most beautiful sound next to silence" is how the Munich-based record label ECM, founded in 1969, proudly brands a catalogue of recorded music where nothing has been placed off-limits. ECM has managed to encompass most of the prevailing trends in contemporary music. The distinctive clarity of what has been dubbed "the ECM sound" has often been discussed as readily as the music it carries, a paradox that makes label founder Manfred Eicher notoriously exasperated. He'd rather talk about the music, but the sound of his recordings is as enigmatic as the formula for Coca-Cola.

The defining date for ECM was 24 January 1975, when Keith Jarrett - suffering chronic back pain and playing on what was undoubtedly the worst piano of his illustrious career - gave a solo concert at the Cologne Opera House. Eicher's mobile recording unit captured a gig that, at the time, Jarrett would rather have forgotten - but ECM's resulting Köln Concert release was the sort of popular smash-hit that jazz recordings rarely become.

Jarrett's fluid, psychedelic arpeggios and his clubbable harmonies tapped into the New Age zeitgeist of the 1970s, and ECM suddenly became an independent label with clout approaching that of the majors.

And from such exploratory beginnings, ECM helped to create a genre - Holy Minimalism...."

The ECM aesthetic extends also to its cover art, and I include a bunch of examples here.








  Dave Holland is one of the quintessential and most highly acclaimed of ECM artists.  Leading groups with the likes of Chris Potter, sax, Robin Rubanks trombone, Steve Nelson, vibes and Billy Kilson, drums, Holland makes music that is, in one description, "phenomenally tight on their complex charts, with Kilson playing matchmaker between the complicated orchestrations and the deceptively simple-sounding melodies. Holland has his customary rumble, packed with precision and a peerless sense of forward direction. Five of the tunes are the leader's, all of them highlighted by ECM records' crystalline production aesthetic. Eubanks and Potter take flighty, heady solos and play unison lines with Nelson's vibes, marking a middle ground that's both a center of focus and a curious light shining back on the rest of the band. His music is, for me, always challenging, always compelling, seemingly chaotic in parts, but ultimately coherent.  Holland collaborated in 2014 on a lovely duet album with Kenny Barron: The Art of Conversation




Billy Kilson


Robin Eubanks


Steve Nelson





I'd avoided this guy, because...who would want to hear music by someone names "Sting"! (Duh!) Then, Kevin Shea introduced me in '87-'88 to the live double album Bring on the Night (with Branford Marsalis & the late, great Kenny Kirkland), -- in the odd setting of the 200 lawyer firm Holme Roberts and Owen.  I was visiting HRO as Special Counsel , on leave from DU for a year.  Rock music was the last benefit I imagined receiving there.! 


Soon, I had the joy of seeing him live at Fiddler's Green, then under attack from neighbors disturbed by the noise and crowds.  (By luck, I ended up doing some legal work in this controversy!)  The concert was in Sting's tour for Nothing Like the Sun ,
his most lyrical and literate album. This was an all-time favorite concert.

  At concert's end, Sting returned for his encore reporting a neighbor's phone complaint  tabout the loudnoise! "Can't you play anything else?", he quoted her.  "How about some Gershwin?  "Sure. we can do that" Sting had replied.  And Kenny Kirkland's lovely intro launched them into an exquisite performance of the Gershwin classic, "Someone to Watch Over Me"...which... eventually segued into a country version of 'The Police' super-hit, "I'll Be Watching You"!  Amazing!

Years later, in October 2003, I have seen Sting and his lady love discuss... tantric sex on Oprah!  He should stick to music.





Joni Mitchell

Most original and finest woman singer-songwriter of the counter-culture generation, from the likes of
The Circle Game
  &I Think I Understand,
to A Case of You, Mingus
& Hissing of Summer Lawns


James Taylor

From the first time I was struck by James Taylor's newly released 1st album, playing in Jerry's Records on E. Market St. in Philly, I've loved his music -- the smooth thin tenor and the trademark acoustic guitar licks.

In the 1990s, when I first saw James in person, at the Telluride Bluegrass (and Folk) Festival, he was accompanied by perhaps 15 musicians!  Times had changed!  But with all the fuss, James himself commanded rapt attention by the absolutely  beatific radiance with which he performed -- both with the supporting musicians and for a brief solo section of the concert.







In that extraordinary concert, he was the embodiment of his own song, Secret of Life I've never experienced a performance like it!

By contrast, when I saw him  in 2008 at Red Rocks Amphitheater outside Denver, promoting  his "Covers" album, James seemed  awkward, stammering  and uninspired.  Go figure!  Still, he is for me. a musical treasure!





  Paul Simon  a great, creative singer-songwriter -- with music ranging from the folk-infused music of the late 60s,
to the controversial introduction -- in Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints -- of African and some South American - sensibility into pop music.  in 1998, Simon's brought his perfectionism to Broadway with the ill fated The Capeman.  Opening to poor reviews, the show had only 68 performances. Nonetheless, the music was compelling.








Singer-Songwriters...and Notorious Exam Characters: 

Karla Bonoff &Terence Boylan
Each is a superb singer songwriter of the '70s, though neither has really escaped obscurity.  Bonoff , who still plays at the Boulder Chautauqua each summer, his the better known of the two, and is equally known as the writer of several Linda Ronstadt hits of the 70s (which Karla performs better than Linda, to my ear). 



Bard College classmate of Walter Becker & Donald Fagan, Boylan released two superb but little known albums in the 70s, backed by several of the sidemen who played with Steely Dan in that era.  "Boona" Boylan then disappeared from the recording scene until the late 90s, when he re-released the best tracks from the two 70s albums on a truly wonderful new, self-titled collection.   (Through the original of this website, I actually got an email from Terence around that time, when he stumbled across my site via Google because it contained his name.)

  In the 70s and 80s, I used Bonoff and Boylan as names for characters in an ambitious real estate transaction problem in my DU Law Property courses: "Turgid and Hedda Boylan," and "Dean Carla Bonoff".  With months to discuss & work on these problems, some students reported anxiously dreaming about these characters.  So it's probably a close call whether this exposure marginally increased or marginally decreased their album sales!



  Mark Knopfler & Dire Straits    





The Ride of the Valkyries  ^
2nd in The Ring cycle, was a prominent musical theme -- Wagner's most aggressive -- used by the Nazis


Tristan & Isolde 

Along with The Ring cycle of 4 operas, Tristan & Isolde is the culmination of Wagner's work.

Wagner's egotism & idealism were reflected in his concept of the 'Total Artwork' or Gesamtkunstwerk, synthesis of  Arts with opera served as a vehicle for a single, integrated, multimedia  artistic expression


Richard Wagner, social philosopher & despicable Anti-Semite , was nonetheless the the 19th century's most revolutionary and influential  composer.  His sensibility inclined toward the archetypal of mythology, and his music was celebrated years later by the Third Reich.  His soaring harmonies broke dramatically with classical rules, and opened the way to Mahler and the great High Romantic and Modern composers who followed.  Nowhere are his exquisite  harmonies more profoundly moving  than in
<-- Tristan & Isolde.

My love of his music is focused on the orchestral preludes, infused with Wagner's revolutionary harmonies, introducing his musical themes rather than the vocalized core of the operas.




Little Feat







Paul Brady






with Bonnie Raitt

Bob Marley





Women Singer-Songwriters


Cheryl Wheeler-->



From the British Isles :


Sandy Denny



Mary Black


  June Tabor






The Beatles




George Gershwin



Songwriters for Musical Theater:
George Gershwin,
Richard Rogers,
Sigmund Romberg,
Jerome Kern

George & Ira Gershwin's
Porgy & Bess


Sigmund Romberg


Richard Rogers


Jerome Kern