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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Ralph Towner / John Abercrombie: Five Years Later

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The long overdue release of Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie's Five Years Later, originally released in 1982, may well be the most eagerly anticipated of the Re:Solutions series that brings into print--on CD (four titles for the first time, Five Years Later previously only available for a limited time in Japan), vinyl and high resolution digital formats--seven historic ECM recordings. Add the three Abercrombie Quartet albums recorded immediately prior to Five Years Later--1979's Arcade, 1980's Abercrombie Quartet and 1981's M, planned for release later this year in an Old & New Masters Edition box--and all of these two seminal guitarists' ...

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John Abercrombie Quartet at Library and Archives Canada

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John Abercrombie Quartet TD Ottawa Jazz Festival Winter Jazz Festival, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Canada February 15, 2014 It's always a treat to see some of your jazz heroes performing in your hometown, but it's an even greater pleasure to see some of them performing together in the same group. Guitarist John Abercrombie, pianist Marc Copland and bassist Drew Gress have been working together for nearly two decades, and they've all found their way to Ottawa, Canada at one time or another. But the chance to hear, in concert, the trio ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Abercrombie Quartet: 39 Steps

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Guitarist John Abercrombie has had a long and successful association with ECM records and for his latest release, 39 Steps, he completes his quartet with a piano. Abercombie had success with this format in the 1970s with Richie Beirach, George Mraz, and Peter Donald, but in the past 10 years his ECM releases have been more focused on his quartet with violinist, Mark Feldman. For his return to this format, Abercrombie has chosen pianist Marc Copland, making 39 Steps Copland's debut on ECM. However, Copland and Abercrombie's relationship dates back to the early '70s when they were ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Peter Brendler and John Abercrombie: The Angle Below

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Peter Brendler and guitarist John Abercrombie have developed their playing partnership over a number of years, but The Angle Below is their first duo recording. Brendler--"the guy on the bass" as he's described in Neil Tesser's sleeve notes--is the nominal leader but he refers to the album as a collaboration. He's not wrong. He may be the driving force behind the project, the man who sorted out the studio, booked the dates, contacted the press and made the coffees, but as soon as the bass and guitar open “Downhill Runner" it's clear that this is a joint venture--a very successful ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

John Abercrombie Quartet: 39 Steps

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John Abercrombie has rarely played with pianists, at least in his own groups and throughout his extensive discography as a leader for ECM Records that began with the immediate classic, 1975's Timeless. Other than a brief reunion with that record's group for 1984's Night, the veteran guitarist has, in fact, only recorded with one other piano-based group, the quartet responsible for Arcade (1979), Abercrombie Quartet (1980) and M (1981)--all featuring another intrepid improviser, Richie Beirach, and slated for released in 2014 as an Old & New Masters Edition box that will finally see all three in print on CD (two ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

John Abercrombie Quartet: Within A Song

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John Abercrombie QuartetWithin A SongECM Records2012In the jazz world, one thing that keeps a lot of fans coming back for more with their favorite artists is the unpredictability factor. It may well be human nature to subconsciously form preconceptions, but with this music, it's usually best to avoid reductionist pigeonholing as, more often than not, it sets self-limiting expectations. Guitarist John Abercrombie has proven, in a career now well into its fifth decade, that just when it seems clear where he's heading, he veers unexpectedly elsewhere--though there always seems to be some ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marc Copland / John Abercrombie: Speak to Me

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Pianist Marc Copland and guitarist John Abercrombie played together for the first time in the 1970s, in drummer Chico Hamilton's group. This was when Copland was playing saxophone, before his seemingly unlikely but very successful switch to piano. Nearly forty years later, the two artists still find opportunities for musical hook-ups, contributing to extraordinary recordings like Copland's Another Place (2008) and Contact's Five on One (2010)--quartet and quintet offerings, respectively, and both for Germany's Pirouet Records. With Speak to Me, the pair explores the more intimate duo setting.In the hands of these two top level veterans, on their ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Marc Copland / John Abercrombie: Speak to Me

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Plenty of artists explore that most naked of musical couplings, the duo, but few have mined its intimate potential the way pianist Marc Copland has. Since 2003, the light-of-touch, impressionistically lithe pianist has put out no less than six duo records amongst the more than 15 albums he's released on half a dozen labels--though since 2007, with the exception of a couple reissues, he's remained steadfastly aligned with Germany's increasingly prestigious Pirouet label. Speak to Me isn't Marc Copland's first recording with guitarist John Abercrombie; that dates back to Second Look (Savoy, 1996). Copland regrouped that quartet ...

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John Abercrombie Quartet Live at Anthology

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John Abercrombie Quartet Anthology San Diego, CA October 8, 2010 Over the last 40 years, John Abercrombie has earned his spot among the pantheon of jazz guitarists. His liquid tone, mercurial ideas and quicksilver phrasing make him instantly identifiable in just a few notes. His sound, his voice on the instrument--no matter the context or collaborators, is radiant and personal. Having last appeared in San Diego in 1978 as a member of Jack DeJohnette's “New Directions" band, Friday night's performance was anticipated with enthusiasm from those who remembered. He appeared at ...

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John Abercrombie / John Menegon / Chet and Jim Doxas: Ottawa, Canada, September 18, 2010

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John Abercrombie / Chet Doxas / John Menegon / Jim DoxasCafé ParadisoOttawa, CanadaSeptember 18, 2010 Amongst the elite of mid-to-senior-generation jazz guitarists including Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Bill Frisell and Ralph Towner, John Abercrombie stands alone. Every one of these six-stringers has a definitive voice, and considerable improvisational skill; equally, however, each of them possesses a clear signature--key phrases or linear devices that crop up periodically in their music, defining their unique identities. Speaking with Montreal-based Jim Doxas, before his two sets with Abercrombie at Ottawa's premiere jazz club, Café Paradiso, the drummer's respect for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Contact: Dave Liebman / John Abercrombie / Marc Copland / Drew Gress / Billy Hart: Five On One

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If, indeed, albums are living breathing beings--and this might well be so--then the beating heart of Five on One, by the marvelous Contact ensemble, is “Lost Horizon," a mighty, burbling piece of music that appears to come from a cornucopia of modern sound. It is mysterious, magical and hypnotic, and brings waves of sound that lap incessantly into the inner ear with that warm undertow made memorable by five of the most eminent musicians of this day. Incandescent saxophonist Dave Liebman melds undulating sound with the mellifluous tonal palette of guitarist John Abercrombie. Both these men make their harmonies dance ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Contact: Dave Liebman / John Abercrombie / Marc Copland / Drew Gress / Billy Hart: Five on One

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Five on One features five of the most renowned artists in modern jazz working together as a cooperative ensemble under the name Contact. Saxophonist Dave Liebman, guitarist John Abercrombie, pianist Marc Copland, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Billy Hart transcend the aesthetic limitations of many similar all-star gatherings with their complementary sensibilities, garnered over the years in various configurations.

Although this is the first time all five musicians have worked together, their paths have crossed many times before, most recently on Copland's Another Place (Pirouet, 2008). Abercrombie and Liebman were founding members of the early seventies fusion septet ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Contact: Dave Liebman / John Abercrombie / Marc Copland / Drew Gress / Billy Hart: Five On One

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The practice of forming super groups in jazz can be fraught with disaster. Festival promoters often try to draw audiences by lumping musicians together in all-star settings, but a lack of chemistry, familiarity, common ground or interest, often turns these events into yawn-inducing bores. All four of these boundaries, thankfully, don't come into play with Contact--the collaborative quintet responsible for Five On One. Saxophonist Dave Liebman, guitarist John Abercrombie, pianist Marc Copland, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Billy Hart are connected through various channels. Liebman and Abercrombie go back almost forty years--having worked together in Lookout Farm--and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Contact: Dave Liebman / John Abercrombie / Marc Copland / Drew Gress / Billy Hart: Five on One

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The band called Contact is about as all-star an affair as can be found in modern jazz, and it's hard to imagine any serious listener not having a favorite among the players, whether it's saxophonist and renaissance man Dave Liebman, pianist Marc Copland--whose marvelous New York Trio Recordings pushed his profile up closer to where it belongs--ECM Records stalwart/guitarist John Abercrombie, veteran drummer Billy Hart, or ubiquitous super sideman/bassist Drew Gress. Five on One burns brightly, with a highly cohesive chamber ensemble sound, with no star outshining the others.Writing assignments are passed around, starting with Abercrombie's lilting “Sendup." ...



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