Keith Jarrett – Staircase

Author: Colin | Published: 24/3/12

Keith Jarrett - Staircase

Keith Jarrett - Staircase

Keith Jarrett - Staircase

Keith Jarrett - Staircase

Keith Jarrett - Staircase

Artist Keith Jarrett
Title Staircase
Label ECM
Year 1977
Design Photos: Franco Fontana, Design: B. Wojirsch
Music Solo, improvised piano
Notes Oh those gatefold 1970s sleeves. The ECM designs like this one are so wonderfully simple yet monumental. Another favourite is Jarrett’s quartet three-sider, Eyes of the Heart, with its imagery so resonant that you can almost feel the cool of the shadow and the heat of the sun at the same time. Barbara Wojirsch here is less expressive than elsewhere, but just the placement of the sparse wording and particularly that of the title ‘SAND’ on the back cover hovering above the azure blue sky (well, it is in the original minus the moire of my poor photograph). Can this really be the first actual post dedicated to an ECM design? For shame. Do you have a favourite ECM sleeve? Please let me know, I’d be interested to hear.
Also Barbara Wojirsch, Dieter Rehm, ECM


  1. Favourite ECM sleeve?
    Must be a newer one from the New Series.

    Nils Petter Molvaer’s Khmer. Somehow the image of the sculpture, or rather the parts of the sculpture that are missing, really represents the sparseness of the trumpet’s voice on the record.

    Comment by Conrad — March 26, 2012 @ 8:19 pm
  2. You’ve already featured an ECM release here, albeit a CD issue:


    Beautiful artwork for this Jarrett album. Barre Phillips’ “Mountainscapes” is another ECM favourite of mine. Great sleeve, incredibly haunting music. Well worth checking out.

    Comment by Mark — March 27, 2012 @ 3:21 pm
  3. Hah! You’re right about the Giuffre Mark, thanks for reminding me. That Barre Phillips is lovely isn’t it.

    Good to hear from someone who’s a fan of newer ECM sleeves Conrad. I like them a lot too. That sleeve always makes me think of Borges’ short story Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.

    I really like the original sleeve of Tomasz Stanko’s Balladyna (and don’t like the new version at all).

    Comment by Colin — March 29, 2012 @ 11:12 pm
  4. Yes Colin, the Stanko sleeve is great, and I totally agree with you about the newer version. Although the fonts used are very ECM, and it sat well with their graphic ideas of the time, the original sleeve just seems to emulate the music better.

    Comment by Conrad — April 1, 2012 @ 7:31 am
  5. Miles Davis used to say that what he looked for in a fellow musician was that the instrument be an extension of their body, and that’s definitely true of Keith Jarrett.

    Comment by dominic — April 22, 2012 @ 7:31 pm
  6. I like the sleeves in the Touchstone series, plus these:
    Kenny Wheeler – Gnu High
    Keith Jarrett – Arbour Zena
    Julian Priester – Love, Love
    Jan Garbarek – Dis
    Bobo Stenson Trio – Serenity
    Jan Garbarek – In Praise of Dreams
    as well as many others, slightly more obscure, like:
    Shankar – Who’s to Know
    Peter Erskine – Time Being
    Gavin Bryars – Vita Nova
    Stephan Micus – Desert Poems
    and others…

    Comment by YZ — June 7, 2012 @ 6:48 pm
  7. In fact there’s a huge number of great ECM sleeves! It’s an amazing label, I keep finding new (to me) artists who are fascinating. My latest discovery is Michael Mantler, before that it was Robyn Williams, Annette Peacock and many more…

    Comment by Colin — June 10, 2012 @ 9:03 am
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