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John Law Quartet: Abacus

Glenn Astarita By

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Classically trained pianist, John Law took a shining to jazz while in his 20’s and eventually teamed up with some of Europe’s best and brightest free jazz artisans yet subsequently decided to tone matters down a bit. Here, Law aligns with American drummer/composer Gerry Hemingway for a spirited set also featuring Law’s longtime associates, saxophonist, Jon Lloyd and bassist, Tim Wells.

Marked by the leader’s linear lines, spaciously perpetuated statements and limber left-hand, right-hand coordination, the quartet pursues peppery rhythms and a festive atmosphere on the opener, “Ouverture”. However, the ensemble frequently melds austere overtones with booming patterns and reverberant rhythms, whereas Hemingway often alters the flow via his crisply executed rim-shots and polyrhythmic fills amid Law’s lower register comping and fluent soloing. Throughout, the pianist performs with the grace and ebullience of a well-traveled concert pianist, yet Law also injects cascading chord progressions, idiosyncratic phraseology and harmonically rich themes into pieces such as “Courante” and the quaintly rendered, “Burlesque.”

The musicians’ rekindle fond memories of Keith Jarrett’s work with saxophonist Dewey Redman, during the nine minute opus titled, “Gigue” as they keenly utilize space and depth alongside animated choruses and asymmetrical currents. Thus, listening to this fine new recording signifies time well spent.


Track Listing: Ouverture; Courante; Aria; Burlesque; Sarabande; Gigue; Passacaglia.

Personnel: Jon Lloyd: alto and soprano saxophones; John Law: piano; Tim Wells: bass; Gerry Hemingway: drums, percussion.

Title: Abacus | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Hat Hut Records

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