John Abercrombie’s ability to merge various jazz forms through his fluid and laid back technique has made him one of the most influential acoustic and electric guitarists of the music; his recordings for ECM clearly demonstrate great writing in a “chamber jazz” style which draws upon a range of contemporary improvised music; his approach is jazz-based, but he also touches on folk, rock as well as both Eastern and Western music. This show picks up on some of the highlights of his career:
1 Gateway – Unshielded Desire – Gateway : Abercrombie was one of the stars of ECM in its early days. His playing on this trio set with bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette is both sophisticated and replete with intense rock elements. The trio have made three albums together under the Gateway name over the years all of which are required listening.
2 Enrico Rava – By The Sea – The Pilgrim and the Stars : Enrico Rava’s debut for ECM in 1975 in great company with Abercrombie, bassist Palle Danielsson, and drummer Jon Christensen.
3 Kenny Wheeler – 34 in the afternoon – Deer Wan : a classic ECM release which finds Wheeler with Jan Garbarek on tenor and soprano, plus the Gateway trio of Abercrombie, Holland, and DeJohnette.
4 John Abercrombie – Bright Rain – Animato : for this 1990 album with Vince Mendoza and Jon Christensen Abercrombie offered a different direction for the ECM label, with electronic and synthesizer based compositions – a huge stylistic leap for the lable.
5 John Abercrombie – Dolorosa – While We Were Young : intense and exploratory music from Abercrombie with Mark Wall and Adam Nussbaum, unique and a landmark fusion album of the 1990s.
6 John Abercrombie – Just In Time – Open Land : the same trio as the above some five years later with trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, the tenor of Joe Lovano, and violinist Mark Feldman. One of his best albums in my opinion.
7 The Impossible Gentlemen – Laugh Lines – The Impossible Gentlemen : and talking of Nussbaum getting right up to date with the fantastic new album with Gwilym Simcock, Salford’s very own Mike Walker, and completing the legendary rhythm section – Steve Swallow. This album is out on Basho on June 6th and I will be playing more of this in the run up to their gig at the Bridgewater Hall on 21st June.
8 John Abercrombie – String Thing – Cat N Mouse : from 2002 and the first of three great albums with Mark Feldman, Joey Baron and Marc Johnson.
9 John Abercrombie – Jack and Betty – Class Trip : two years later and the quartet that promised much on the Cat N Mouse album delivered again and more so with Class Trip. Virtuoso performances with stunning improvisation make this a classic album.
10 John Abercrombie – Epilogue – The Third Quartet : this reading of Bill Evans Epilogue is breathtakingly good and demonstrates the almost uncanny interplay that these four musicians developed over these three albums.
11 John Abercrombie – Wait ’til you see her – Wait ’til you see her : Thomas Morgan replaces Marc Johnson for the most recent release from Abercrombie.
To listen to the show click on the link below: