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.
From the opening four notes of Michael Henderson's hypnotically minimal bass that open the unedited master of "On the Corner," answered a few seconds later by the swirl of color, texture, and above all rhythm, it becomes a immediately apparent that Miles Davis had left the jazz world he helped to invent – forever. The 19-minute-and-25-second track has never been issued in full until now. It is one of the 31 tracks in The Complete On the Corner Sessions, a six-disc box recorded between 1972 and 1975 that centers on the albums On the Corner, Get Up with It, and the hodgepodge leftovers collection Big Fun. It is also the final of eight boxes in the series of Columbia's studio sessions with Davis from the 1950s through 1975, when he retired from music before his return in the 1980s. Previously issued have been Davis' historic sessions with John Coltrane in the first quintet, the Gil Evans collaborations, the Seven Steps to Heaven recordings, the complete second quintet recordings, and the complete In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, and Jack Johnson sessions. There have been a number of live sets as well; the most closely related one to this is the live Cellar Door Sessions 1970, issued in 2005.
John Abercrombie Quartet: Up and Coming Starting the new year with, if not precisely a bang, a nevertheless unforgettable record whose strength lies in pristine lyricism, nuanced group interplay and writing that capitalizes on the entire quartet's appreciation of subtlety over gymnastics and refined lyricism over angularity, John Abercrombie's Up and Coming—ECM's first release of the year—is also founded strongly on the concept of relationship.
John Abercrombie Quartet: Up and Coming Starting the new year with, if not precisely a bang, a nevertheless unforgettable record whose strength lies in pristine lyricism, nuanced group interplay and writing that capitalizes on the entire quartet's appreciation of subtlety over gymnastics and refined lyricism over angularity, John Abercrombie's Up and Coming—ECM's first release of the year—is also founded strongly on the concept of relationship. The guitarist has been playing with Marc Copland since the pianist's days in the early '70s as a saxophonist before deserting it entirely for a career and discography that's as rich and rewarding as Abercrombie's…
Abercrombie’s pinpoint precision abounds, his mid-heavy picking amplified to buttery sweetness, and shares notable interplay with Beirach. Over a yielding backing, these sustained reverberations occasionally coalesce in bright tutti passages. The resulting sound is nothing short of enchanting. A neglected classic to be sure, Arcade is available on CD only in Japan, and is one of three fine John Abercrombie Quartet sessions that one can only hope are next in line for an Old & New Masters treatment.
There is an easy familiarity among the participants on the John Abercrombie Quartet's 39 Steps. Each of its members – guitarist, pianist Marc Copland, bassist Drew Gress, and drummer Joey Baron – have played together in various situations for decades. In the case of Abercrombie and Copland, their association goes back some 40 years to Chico Hamilton's touring group and the fusion band Dreams. Both Baron and Gress have played with the guitarist and pianist on and off since the '90s.
ECM release, Within A Song is the musical celebration of jazz’s greatest players. The extraordinary John Abercrombie Quartet pays homage to early influences including Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Ornette Coleman, Jim Hall and Sonny Rollins. The album exuberates with the ensemble’s contemporary strengths and infectious guitar playing. John Abercrombie adds his own waltz-inspired composition, “Easy Reader” to this exquisite program.
“Within A Song” celebrates the spirit of discovery that illuminated the jazz of the 1960s, as John Abercrombie declares his musical loyalties in a quartet album that pays tribute to a range of early influences including Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins and Jim Hall. “This was the music that spoke to me. When I heard it, it was like finding a new home.” The group assembled especially for this production, recorded at New York’s Avatar Studios in September 2011 features tenorist Joe Lovano as the optimal partner for Abercrombie. Together they mine deep feelings from these modern jazz classics.