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Big Ears Festival Will Pay Tribute to 50 Years of ECM Records

The lineup of ECM-affiliated acts includes Carla Bley, Vijay Iyer, Craig Taborn, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago

The Art Ensemble of Chicago
The Art Ensemble of Chicago (L to R: Famoudou Don Moye, Roscoe Mitchell, Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, Malachi Favors Maghostut) backstage at S.O.B.’s, New York, March 1987 (photo: Enid Farber)

Big Ears, the expansive music festival out of Knoxville, Tenn., will pay tribute to ECM Records, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The storied label, founded in Germany by producer Manfred Eicher, has recorded some of the most consequential acts in jazz, including Paul Bley, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Paul Motian, Gary Burton, Dave Liebman, John Abercrombie, and Pat Metheny.

The four-day festival, now in its 10th year, will run Thursday, Mar. 21, through Sunday, Mar. 24, featuring more than 100 concerts in 12 different venues and including films, exhibitions, discussions, and interactive experiences.

ECM has always been known as a jazz label, but its genre-bending approach also makes room for classically minded musicians, an ethos that puts it in common with Big Ears, a festival that has tried to blur the lines between different musical genres.

Some 20 concerts at Big Ears in March will focus on the ECM legacy, featuring veteran acts like the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Meredith Monk, Carla Bley, and Jack DeJohnette, along with a younger generation of jazz musicians, including Vijay Iyer, Craig Taborn, Avishai Cohen, and Shai Maestro.

A full list of ECM-themed performances at Big Ears is below:


The Art Ensemble of Chicago
Arvo Pärt’s Passio performed by St. John’s Choir
Avishai Cohen Quartet
Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan
Carla Bley TRIOS with Andy Sheppard and Steve Swallow
David Torn
DeJohnette Coltrane Garrison
Larry Grenadier
Kim Kashkashian
Kim Kashkashian & Robert Levin
Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble Cellular Songs Concert
Mathias Eick Quintet
Nik Bärtsch’s RONIN
Ralph Towner
Shai Maestro
Sun of Goldfinger (David Torn, Tim Berne, Ches Smith)
Tim Berne’s Snakeoil
Vijay Iyer & Craig Taborn
Wadada Leo Smith’s Nda, performing Divine Love with Bobby Naughton and Dwight Andrews

For more information and to buy tickets, visit

Originally Published