340

John Abercrombie: Open Land

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
John Abercrombie: Open Land Truth be told, John Abercrombie has always been one of the more neglected players of his generation. He's never done the more commercial types of things that have brought fellow guitarists like Pat Metheny a broader audience base, and yet the irony is that his adventurous style and sound was the forerunner of such current underground favorites as Kurt Rosenwinkel, Bill Frisell, and Ben Monder. Several years ago, however, he chose to work in the context of an organ trio. And being the sagacious one that he is, he put Dan Wall into the B-3 chair and Adam Nussbaum behind the drums. A more complimentary pair one couldn't ask for, with Nussbaum as heated and flashy as Wall is delicate and understated, the trio made three exceptional albums for ECM that have become modern-day classics.

This latest affair finds Abercrombie still working with Wall and Nussbaum, but adding some other voices as well, giving us an even more diverse recital of the guitarist's originals. The inclusion of trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and saxophonist Joe Lovano is not surprising, but the real ringer here is violinist Mark Feldman. So the story goes, Abercrombie had been wanting to record with Feldman for some time and the atypical blending of violin and trumpet over the organ base is certainly a novel sound that proves to be surprisingly fresh.

"Open Land" is an ingenious composition, with its extensive form drifting between slow melodic development, akin to the modern classical tone row, and more conventional passages of swing. Feldman, Lovano, and Wall all contribute expansive solos, while Wheeler's reading of the melody line is as resounding as the landscape the title suggests. For "Spring Song" the lead is carried by violin and Abercrombie's acoustic guitar, a delicate timbre that fits well with the tune's graceful waltz tempo. As a somewhat belated reply to Brubeck's "Take Five," "Gimme Five" swings effortlessly in five over a catchy bass vamp. Again, suggesting the range that makes this one so rewarding, the closing "That's For Sure" could almost be called a hillbilly shuffle, Feldman's violin appearing to be the perfect foil.

As well-paced and written as Abercrombie's material is, strong individual solo statements also come to the fore. Wheeler sounds particularly animated, his upper-register leaps and textural variations at a premium on "Little Booker," one more line whose title makes a pun that pays tribute to another renowned jazz trumpeter. Wall and Abercrombie feed off each other in a way that suggests their many years together as a team has lead to a telepathic state of interaction. So what do you get when you take what is already a good thing and add more of a good thing? The sublime happening we have here where the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.


Track Listing: Just in Tune; Open Land; Spring Song; Gimme Five; Speak Easy; Little Booker; Free Piece Suit(e); Remember When; That's For Sure.

Personnel: John Abercrombie: guitar; Mark Feldman: violin; Kenny Wheeler: trumpet, flugelhorn; Joe Lovano: tenor saxophone; Dan Wall: organ; Adam Nussbaum: drums.

| Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Impulsive Illuminations" CD/LP/Track Review Impulsive Illuminations
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "A Kenton Celebration" CD/LP/Track Review A Kenton Celebration
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 28, 2016
Read "Euro Swing Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review Euro Swing Vol. 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 24, 2016
Read "Heavy Feel" CD/LP/Track Review Heavy Feel
by Doug Collette
Published: May 21, 2016
Read "Cada Fuego Es El Primero" CD/LP/Track Review Cada Fuego Es El Primero
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2016
Read "Meets Batida" CD/LP/Track Review Meets Batida
by James Nadal
Published: March 15, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!