KULTURMINISTER ELLEN HORN:
Dear Music Lovers...
...the history of jazz is the history of encounters that defy borders - geographical, social cultural and legal borders. It is the history of movement. Every time the jazz tradition seems to be in danger of drying up, a new and often unexpected encounter takes place. But even though these major cultural trends are closely linked to changes in society as a whole, extraordinary individuals often manage to exert an influence on them. And it is one of these individuals we are honouring today; record producer, record company owner and publisher, Manfred Eicher.
Each person has his or her own story. One part of Manfred Eicher's story is that of the bridge-builder. He is a bridge-builder between European and American jazz, between jazz and contemporary classical music and, in our case, between Norwegian performers, and international audience and foreign musicians.
Molvær, Ketil Bjørnstad and Trygve Seim.
Manfred Eicher's musical encounters encompass 700 releases during the past thirty years. There are many modern classics among them. In 1969, at the age of 26, Eicher founded Edition of Contemporary Music, known as ECM among jazz lovers. This proved to be a watershed in jazz recording history. The combination of innovative design and high quality in all aspects of production was soon accompanied by a distinctive musical identity, whcih has been called the "European Sound" or: "The most beautiful sound - next to silence!"
Modern Norwegian jazz is closely linked with Eicher's name. The release of Jan Garbarek's "Afric Pepperbird" in 1970 was an important step in the development of ECM's distinctive character and its collaboration with Norwegian musicians. Several of Norway's most prominent jazz musicians were featured on this album, and since I happen to be happily married to one of them, modesty dictates that I mention only the two others: Terje Rypdal and Arild Andersen.
"Afric Pepperbird" marked both Jan Garbarek's recording debut for ECM and the first of many ECM recordings to be made in Oslo. It was the beginning of the creative alliance between Eicher and sound engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug. Together, the two of them established totally new criteria for how jazz should be recorded. One of the immediate results of their collaboration was a series of solo piano recordings, among which Keith Jarret's albums are still considered classics.
Manfred Eicher og Øystein Bråthen
ECM and Manfred Eicher have also helped Jan Garbarek and other Norwegian musicians attain international success by presenting them on equal terms with other talented musicians from all over the world. Among the Norwegians artists who have recently been signed to the ECM label are Nils Petter
Manfred Eicher's demand for top quality, his alert ear, and his determination to get talented musicians into the public eye have all given Norwegian music a boost and helped it to gain ground. We are deeply grateful to Manfred Eicher for this, and very pleased to have this opportunity to show him our appreciation.
I now give the floor to Øystein Bråthen, Chancellor of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit.
Ellen Horn, Molde, 2001