As part of ECM'0bs Old & New Masters series of box sets, John Abercrombie's The First Quartet collects three albums recorded for the label between 1978 and 1980. Two titles, 1979's Abercrombie Quartet and 1981's M, have been unavailable for decades. By the guitarist's own admission, this band represents the guitarist's first time as a "proper" bandleader. His earlier dates on ECM had been co-led sessions (Timeless, Gateway, Sargasso Sea), a solo album (Characters), and sideman gigs (Jack DeJohnette's New Directions, David Liebman's Lookout Farm, etc.). These three dates also represent an important foundation for Abercrombie as a composer.
This 3-CD set with recordings from 1978 to 1980, issued in ECM s acclaimed Old & New Masters series, returns some historically-important material to the catalog, namely the albums Arcade, Abercrombie Quartet and M. The quartet with Richie Beirach, George Mraz and Peter Donald John Abercrombie s first touring band as a leader was the group in which the guitarist defined some priorities, moving away from a jazz-rock period into a more spacious, impressionistic and original music. Abercrombie and pianist Beirach had a strong musical rapport as improvisers and wrote almost all of the band s book between them. George Mraz and Peter Donald provided imaginative support. For this edition the recordings - made in Oslo and Ludwigsburg and produced by Manfred Eicher were remastered from original analog sources.
Excellent trio date featuring Abercrombie playing with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Peter Erskine. The three take chances, converge, collide, alternate time in the spotlight, and make emphatic, unpredictable music while never staying locked into one groove or style.
After a long hiatus from the record shelves, the turbaned Dr. Lonnie Smith – along with guitarist John Abercrombie and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith – sets his sights upon John Coltrane, turning in five 'Trane tunes plus Mongo Santamaria's "Afro-Blue" and a grooving Smith tribute, "Traces of Trane." The propulsive title track is mostly dominated by Abercrombie, while "Impressions" continues the driving pace as Lonnie sprays Hammond B-3 organ notes all over the place with constant brief call-and-response dialogues with himself.
'Timeless' is right–in the future, this is the kind of interplanetary jazz they're going to be playing at the docking stations of newly colonized planets. Recorded in 1974, 'Timeless' is very much a product of its age. Lightning fast guitar and keyboard runs, hi-hats, and drums writhe around each other in serpentine fury, giving way to moments of stately grace and calm waters such as "Love Song." Composer John Abercrombie has remained one of the great session men and in-demand guitarists in both jazz and avant-garde circles since the mid-'70s.
Sound explorations are emphasized throughout this release with Jeff Palmer's atmospheric organ, the varied tones of John Abercrombie's guitar synthesizer, David Liebman's very passionate soprano and Adam Nussbaum's drums interacting over a variety of patterns. All of the compositions are group originals with five by Palmer and one apiece from the other three musicians. Whether it be the funky beat of "Hip Slick," the free jamming of "Mr. Adam," the spacey title cut or the almost New Age feel of "Mr. John," the themes are less important than the setting of moods and the advanced improvising.
John Abercrombie's longstanding partnership with Mark Feldman has yielded several albums of exquisite music, and Wait Till You See Her is no different. The mood is naturally restrained, contemplative, and introspective as you would expect, while there's a common thread of healthy respect that keeps the quartet in the softer mezzo piano range. With acoustic bassist Thomas Morgan and the irrepressible drummer Joey Baron, the electric guitarist and violinist weave their way through one standard and seven originals from Abercrombie that comes straight from the heart.
The follow-up to While We're Young has a less melodic, more loosely structured feel, as if it were all kinetically inspired and freely improvised within various structures. The intuition or trust level of electric guitarist John Abercrombie, organist Dan Wall, and drummer Adam Nussbaum is clearly evident: They are listening, reacting, and responding to each other from measure to measure, and that is the basis for their music making.