"Speak to Me" is the CD premiere of a duo that has actually been in existence for some time. The recordings with pianist Marc Copland and guitarist John Abercrombie are classic examples of the quiet, calm art of communication practiced at the highest level. The musical meeting of these two contemporary jazz maestros has a wonderfully organic feel. It is comparable to the finest chamber music. The pieces shimmer with multifarious shades and meanings. They are small sound sculptures of artful transience. This is music from two of the most insightful players of jazz.
John Abercrombie's 1989 release UPON A TIME is, as the subtitle points out, an album of duets, mostly with bassist Mel Graves and drummer George Marsh. While bass and drum solos are often the punchlines of musical jokes, Graves and Marsh are skilled players with enough good taste to keep the flashiness to an interesting minimum. As for guitarist Abercrombie, his playing is typically brilliant, whether picking out the traditional melody of "My Scottish Heart" or moving into a more impressionistic sonic arena in tracks like "In the Woods" or "Chuck Man Rivers." Earthier and more expressly jazz-based than many releases on the ECM-affiliated New Albion label, UPON A TIME is a satisfying, richly rewarding album.
Guitarists John Abercrombie and John Scofield join forces for these early-'80s sessions, mostly duets while occasionally adding bassist George Mraz and drummer Peter Donald. They delve into the jazz canon with an intricate duet of "Solar," a driving, Latin-fused take of "Four on Six" (in which Abercrombie overdubs an electric mandolin), and a dreamy duo interpretation of "If You Could See Me Now." The sole standard, "I Should Care," fares just as well in their hands, which settles into a relaxed exchange between the two players as if they are playing for themselves alone. Scofield's "Small Wonder" is scored for the quartet, a bristling post-bop vehicle with a feature for Mraz as well.
When one considers the instrumentation (alto, piano and guitar) and the personnel (Bob Mover, Paul Bley and John Abercrombie), it is not surprising that this date is full of thoughtful, chance-taking and often lyrical improvisations. Most of the selections are either duets or unaccompanied solos, and although there are some melodies, the music was pretty much all improvised on the spot. An intriguing set.
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…
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.