Norwegian pianist Jon Balke first appeared on ECM in 1974. From a background in jazz and ‘world music’, he has gone on to compose for theatre and dance performances as well as major works for chamber groups and sinfoniettas. He leads the Magnetic North Orchestra, whose albums include “Further”, “Kyanos” and “Diverted Travels”, was the initiator of the Batagraf project, has recorded solo for ECM (“Book of Velocities”) and also produced African drummer Miki N’Doye for the label.
Amina Alaoui is a virtuoso singer, born in Fez and originally schooled in the Moroccan Gharnati tradition, who continues to research connections between Fado, Flamenco and the music of Al-Andalus. In Siwan much of the music was originally composed to Spanish translations of the poetry. Alaoui helped to reshape the material around original Arabic versions, which she sings with great authority.
Memphis-born trumpeter Jon Hassell’s path from studies with Stockhausen to Indian vocal master Pandit Pran Nath to the sphere of New York minimalism led him to shape what he called ‘fourth world’ - a music without borders between classical and popular, sacred and sensual, which has filtered into nearly all areas of contemporary music. His landmark ECM album “Power Spot” was an early highpoint. His recent album, “Last Night The Moon Came...” reminded many of how influential his liquid trumpet sound has become.
Kheir Eddine M’Kachiche is a virtuoso violinist from Algeria. Based in the tradition of Arab-Andalusian music he has developed his own voice in collaborations with Amina Alaoui, Barrio Chino, and lately also with Cheb Khaled and Jon Hassell.
Bjarte Eike is a young veteran of early music. After studies in Bergen and London, he quickly established himself as a leading violinist on Copenhagen’s early music scene. A member of Balke’s Magnetic North, he formed his Barokksolistene in 2005.
Pedram Khavar Zamini, from Tehran, combines traditional tombak (zarb) drumming with his own modern patterns and is considered one of the most exceptional exponents of Persian classical music.
Norwegian percussionist Helge Norbakken has played in the groups of Mari Boine, Maria Joao, and numerous other international artists. His percussion draws influences from diverse world traditions and jazz – as can be heard in his work with Magnetic North, Batagraf and Siwan.
German lutenist Andreas Arend studied with Nigel North and is well-known as a flexible virituoso player, performing in a range of leading groups in baroque and renaissance music.
Bjarte Eike’s Barokksolistene (Baroque soloists) is a highly-regarded constellation of top players in the European early music scene. Members Tom Pitt and Peter Spissky – who with Eike have performed as Baroque Fever- have already recorded for ECM with Magnetic North, and Miloš Valent has appeared on ECM New Series with John Potter’s Dowland Project (“Romaria”) and Iva Bittová (“Mater”).