German bassist Manfred Eicher formed ECM in 1969 in Munich, Germany. Initially the label was known for free music, issuing dates by Marion Brown, Paul Bley and Dave Holland. But it has evolved to the point of being regarded as almost a midwife to New Age, with many sessions of atmospheric, minimally improvised dates by Jan Garbarek, Ralph Towner, Terje Rypdal, Eberhard Weber and other Europeans. Eicher's dense, expertly engineered productions have always ensured great sound. The knock on ECM is not completely fair; Jack DeJohnette, Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, Ralph Towner, Egberto Gismonti, Old and New Dreams and Codona are among the acts who have either previously recorded or are still recording ECM dates; certainly a mixed bag. The label is still among the most prolific in recent jazz history and is a place where unusual and ambitious projects often happen.