It was hardly a surprise that the follow-up to M's debut album didn't contain a song as groundbreaking as "Pop Muzik" – or a tune that was anywhere near as big a hit as his one and only global chart-topper. Instead of trying to duplicate that near-perfect slice of electro, M (aka Robin Scott) veered off in several directions, exploring a slightly rockier sound as well as a fair amount of experimental noodling.
Since they started in the early 1970’s, ECM has been giving the world one excellent jazz piano disc after another–significant names include Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, and Paul Bley, more recently Anat Fort, Bo Stenson, and now Julia Hulsmann. Leading a trio on her ECM debut, THE END OF SUMMER, Hulsman displays a graceful, muted, and melancholy air. In the manner of Stenson and Bley, Hulsmann expresses maximum emotion and mood using the fewest (but well-placed) notes. Unlike the aforementioned gentlemen however, Hulsmann favors almost folk-like, affable, and concise melodies. Her bassist and drummer seem subdued at times, but they’re constantly lending the tunes a sense of forward motion.
The two guitarists take the opportunity on “Father And Son” to explore and to exploit these multiple possibilities to the full: “Irish Vagabond” combines full-on Irish folk music with Arabic elements. “Mistral” is rhythmically punchy, almost like a rock tune, and also has echoes of Al Di Meola. In this tune Ulf Wakenius recounts an experience he had while on tour with Youn Sun Nah. At the Avignon Festival, a powerful wind from the South “almost blew me off the stage, so I decided to write a song about it.” Their “Eleanor Rigby” is captivating; as they honour the Beatles, they achieve a sonority remarkably close to a string quartet. “Paco’s Delight” pays tribute to the unforgettable Paco de Lucía, but their Spanish flamenco technique is also imbued with the buoyancy and verve of Django Reinhardt’s Hot Club swing.