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John Abercrombie = 3242, whose history with ECM stretches back to the early '70s, now releases his fourth CD with the same quartet of violinist Mark Feldman and drummer Joey Baron, newcomer Thomas Morgan replacing previous bassist Marc Johnson. Though there are rambunctious moments, Abercrombie chooses to open with "Sad Song," a somewhat misleading title. The playing is tender, thoughtful and melodically floating, speaking to an artist's confidence that one doesn't have to start a journey by proving how fast and loud they can play. The line between soloists is blurred; the melody moves between violin and guitar, producing a richer texture than the common soloist-with-rhythm-section arrangement. "Line-Up" starts with Baron implying a fast swing time, while Feldman and Abercrombie fragment the head. This leads to a brief unison statement, more fragmentation and then a deliberate guitar solo. As Abercrombie hands the reins to Feldman, Baron returns to the softer splintering of the beat while violin moves through the dynamic range from very soft to loud in a fraction of a second. Morgan's solo, accompanied by violin and guitar referencing the opening fragmented texture, leads back perfectly and seamlessly to the head.
"Out of Towner"a sly reference to Abercrombie's collaboration with fellow guitarist Ralph Towneris concise, a head over a 12/8 beat that leads to a magnificent solo by Feldman propelled by Afro/Cuban-tinged drumming. Feldman pulls in all his experience playing classical, country, klezmer and music-beyond-category to produce a statement rich in feeling and technical prowess. Abercrombie's solo is flowing, using a more sustained sound rather than the rhythmic attack of his jazzier leads.
Abercrombie composed all the music except the title track, written by Rodgers and Hart in the '40s. The lyrics from this love song provide a summation for the approach and results of Abercrombie's latest effort: "pensive and sweet and wise."
Track Listing: Sad Song; Line-Up; Wait Till You See Her; Trio; I've Overlooked Before; Anniversary Waltz; Out of Towner; Chic Of Araby.
Personnel: John Abercrombie: guitar; Mark Feldman: violin; Thomas Morgan: double-bass; Joey Baron: drums.
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.