John Abercrombie: Extending the Tradition
Whether in the context of his own groups, in collaboration with long-standing musical friends, or forging new relationships, John Abercrombie maintains a simple goal for himself. "Just trying to get it better," Abercrombie says. "I think that I play quite differently than I did back, say, in '76, but the concepts, or the idea of just trying to be a better guitarist, be a better musician, being able to play over changes, the kinds of things that a lot of musicians work on, that's what I work on daily. I work on more traditional things; a lot of things that get recorded may not sound that way, but if you could hear me practicing, I'd sound to you like a jazz player. I don't practice trying to play abstractly; a lot of that stuff just sort of happens through my associations with different musicians. I guess it's in there somewhere anyway, but my general bent is to try and be a good jazz guitarist."
And that's as simple and honest a goal as one can have. To be better; to work in the jazz tradition while still finding ways to expand it; to find ways of free expression within the context of form, development and movement; and to surround oneself with like minded musicians with whom the best sense of trust and freedom can be cultivated. With a still-growing discography that demonstrates a clear evolution without losing sight of what came before, John Abercrombie's career has been all about reverence and forward-thinking.
Selected ECM Discography:
Class Trip (2004)
:rarum XIV: Selected Recordings (2004)
Cat 'n' Mouse (2002)
Lift Every Voice [with Charles Lloyd] (2002)
Open Land (1999)
Homecoming [with Gateway] (1995)
While We're Young (1993)
The Widow in the Window [with Kenny Wheeler] (1990)
Eventyr [with Jan Garbarek] (1981)
In Europe [with Jack DeJohnette's New Directions] (1980)
Deer Wan [with Kenny Wheeler] (1978)
Grazing Dreams [with Collin Walcott] (1977)
Sargasso Sea [with Ralph Towner] (1976)
The Pilgrim and the Stars [with Enrico Rava] (1975)
Gateway [with Gateway] (1975)
All photos by Claudio Casanova except Kenny Wheeler and "At the Montreux Jazz Festival."