The official blurb says that this was recorded live, but if, like me, you are put off by the vast majority of live releases, don't worry. Perhaps the players are inspired to their glorious heights of emotional eloquence by the unseen and unheard audience (the best kind), but apart from that you wouldn't know it was a live recording at all. The sound is as gorgeous and meticulous as any ECM, there is no intrusive audience applause or, heaven forefend, "whooping" noises of any kind, and there certainly isn't any grandstanding by the players for the crowd.
While this is an ECM all-star cast (Andy Sheppard saxophones, Anja Lechner cello, Eivind Aarset guitars , Arild Andersen bass, Marilyn Mazur percussion, Ketil Bjørnstad piano), as you would expect from these class acts, this is no ego-jam - there is no competition, cutting or clashes of style, just a glorious never-ending flow of harmonious interchanges and musical empathy, bringing out the absolute best in absolutely everyone.
While Bjørnstad recordings are always beautiful, the varied instrumentation and changes of pace and intensity here means this recording sustains the interest more easily than many of his previous ECMs, such that the occasional Bjørnstad solo segments grab and hold the attention as forcibly as everything else on this wonderfully enjoyable album.
La Notte is one long musically integrated suite segmented into 8 parts, minimalistically entitled "I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII and VIII". The blurb tells us that it is "a salute to Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni". Once again, I'm afraid, I have to take their word for this, being entirely ignorant of such things (but piqued now to investigate further ...).
If you are an ECM aficionado, do not hesitate, purchase at once, this is a major work and a sheer joy.
If you are new to ECM, there could be no better place to dip your toes in the water and, while the cost of entry of an ECM album always makes it a tough speculative purchase decision, I feel sure that anyone that likes pensive, beautiful and atmospheric in music will fall in love with this immediately.