John Abercrombie: The Third Quartet (2007)
Using the unique line-up of guitar-violin-bass-drums, Abercrombie effortlessly composes pieces snuggly fit to the band's considerable talents. Back to the freedom spectrum idea, The Third Quartet opens with the Abercrombie original "Banshee, a piece as untethered as blowing dust. Abercrombie affects a distorted tone while playing Eastern harmonic motifs in front of the sawing figures of Mark Feldman's violin. Drummer Joey Baron sets what tempo is present with his ride cymbal, throwing the occasional rim shot here and there.
The freedom of "Banshee is effectively contrasted with the lyrical "Vingt Six, which begins with an Abercrombie-Feldman duet, beautifully ornamented as a gentle ballad. Breaking from past practice, Abercrombie includes some standards in his recital, most notably Bill Evans' "Epilogue. Evans was known for a delicate and impressionistic approach to his piano performance, and Abercrombie and Feldman easily assimilate and emulate this approach in theirs.
The disc title, The Third Quartet, is a clever play on classical music naming. In this present case, it means the third recording by Abercrombie with his present working quartet, the two previous releases being Cat 'n' Mouse (ECM, 2002) and Class Trip (ECM, 2004). Each recording represents lessons learned from the previous one, showing a steady evolution toward a certain jazz perfection rare in the art.
Track Listing: Banshee; Number 9; Vingt Six; Wishing Bell; Bred; Tres; Round Trip; Epilogue; Elvin; Fine.
Personnel: John Abercrombie: guitar; Mark Feldman: violin; Joey Baron: drums; Marc Johnson: bass.
Record Label: ECM Records
Style: Modern Jazz