In the year of its 40th anniversary, ECM Records has been named both Classical and Jazz Label Of The Year by the world’s leading publications in these genres, Gramophone and Downbeat respectively.
On October 2nd, ECM’s founder and producer Manfred Eicher accepted The Classic FM Gramophone Award 2009 at a presentation ceremony in London.
Writing in the special Awards Issue of Gramophone, editor James Jolly says, “In an age of increasing standardisation, it’s good to salute genuine individuality. Each year we pay tribute to a record label that demonstrates a winning blend of creativity, imagination, business acumen, style – all adding up to that word again: individuality. This year we turn the spotlight on a label that has been ploughing its particular furrow with notable success for 40 years, ECM, and more particularly for “classical music” fans, its New Series... While many companies shy away from contemporary music, Manfred Eicher seeks it out – and again it’s a tribute to his taste and extraordinary judgement that many of the composers he’s championed have gone on to become familiar names: Arvo Pärt, Giya Kancheli, Valentin Silvestrov and Erkki-Sven Tüür, to name just four. And ECM, once it has found a musician to champion, does it properly, not merely with a single disc but often exploring different genres of that musician’s art. And of course that is one incentive to stay with the label and follow the lead it so obviously offers. Add to the provocative A&R, first-class musicianship, invariably demonstration-worthy recording quality and the label’s trademark design – usually black and white, always slipcased, and adorned not with a going-through-the-motions programme note but something altogether more challenging – and you have all the ingredients that have convinced us that this, of all years, belongs to Manfred Eicher and his wonderful ECM label.”
In the US, in the 2009 DownBeat’s Annual Critics Poll ECM was voted label of the year and founder Manfred Eicher producer of the year for the second consecutive year.