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JOHN ABERCROMBIE

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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John Abercrombie biography
Jazz critics will argue the JOHN ABERCROMBIE is the guitarist of his generation who has pushed the boundaries of improvisation, whilst relating to the traditions of jazz. However, ABERCROMBIE has equally been at home with jazz rock fusion having a style that places him readily amongst the top ten jazz rock guitarists. His importance has been shown through the release of a number of classic recordings under his own names and as a collaborator especially through the 70's and 80's, and then again working with Hammond organist DAN WALL in the 90's. As one of the main artists recording for the ECM, he has been allowed to mature independently as a true jazz musician and during this time not be shy using new technology to add to the old. He is quoted in Jazzit: Carrying on the tradition of jazz guitar from CHARLIE CHRISTIAN and DJANGO REINHARDT to the present day is a very important aspect of my music. I'd like people to perceive me as having a direct connection to the history of jazz guitar, while expanding some musical boundaries which may not always involve the guitar itself.'

Born 1944, JOHN ABERCROMBIE grew up on the East Coast of the USA, picking up the guitar from the age of 14. Interested in playing the guitar as a serious instrument he enrolled at Boston's Berklee College of Music, during which time he worked with other students, playing local small venues as "your standard guitar-organ-drums set up." In the late 60's he toured with organist JOHNNY HAMMOND for weeks at a time, playing as some serious jazz night spots in NYC - that relationship has continued to this time. During the late 60's, ABERCROMBIE met the BRECKER BROTHERS who were involved in a burgeoning New York jazz rock scene. From this early collaboration, ABERCROMBIE was invited to play with DREAMS, and is to be heard on the band's debut album released by Columbia.

Following graduation from Berklee in 1969, ABERCROMBIE moved back into New York City full time, becoming in the subsequent few years an in-demand session musician, recording with GIL EVANS, GATO BARBIERI, BARRY MILES and many other artists. He also became a regular with CHICO HAMILTON'S group. It was as the guitarist in BILLY COBHAM'S post-'Spectrum' band that ABERCROMBIE first began attracting widespread attention among the general public. The group maybe considered an expanded version of DREAMS, that recorded in short order COBHAM's 'Crosswinds' 'Total Eclipse' and 'Shabazz' albums. As a result ABERCROMBIE found...
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ECM Touchstones: Sargasso SeaECM Touchstones: Sargasso Sea
Ecm Records 2008
Audio CD$5.50
$6.71 (used)
ECM Touchstones: GatewayECM Touchstones: Gateway
Ecm Records 2008
Audio CD$5.49
$7.55 (used)
Within a SongWithin a Song
ECM Records 2012
Audio CD$9.36
$6.24 (used)
Open LandOpen Land
Import
Ecm Import 1999
Audio CD$8.82
$5.89 (used)
ECM Touchstones: AnimatoECM Touchstones: Animato
Import
Imports 2008
Audio CD$6.89
$6.98 (used)
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JOHN ABERCROMBIE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

JOHN ABERCROMBIE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.71 | 34 ratings
Timeless
1975
4.21 | 33 ratings
Gateway
1975
3.91 | 11 ratings
SARGASSO SEA ( with RALPH TOWNER)
1976
3.57 | 13 ratings
Gateway 2
1977
3.07 | 8 ratings
Characters
1977
4.47 | 8 ratings
Arcade (JOHN ABERCROMBIE QUARTET)
1978
3.00 | 2 ratings
Straight Flight (Direct Flight)
1979
3.75 | 4 ratings
M
1980
3.67 | 3 ratings
JOHN ABERCROMBIE QUARTET
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Route Two (with David Earle Johnson and Dan Wall )
1981
3.75 | 4 ratings
FIVE YEARS LATER ( with RALPH TOWNER )
1982
3.00 | 3 ratings
John Abercrombie with John Scofield: Solar
1982
3.50 | 6 ratings
Night
1984
3.04 | 7 ratings
Current Events
1985
2.00 | 1 ratings
John Abercrombie with Don Thompson: Witchcraft
1986
3.25 | 4 ratings
Getting There
1987
3.00 | 1 ratings
Upon A Time An Album Of Duets
1989
3.50 | 6 ratings
Animato
1989
4.00 | 1 ratings
NATURAL LIVING ( with ANDY LaVERNE )
1990
3.00 | 1 ratings
Works
1991
3.06 | 11 ratings
While We're Young
1992
3.91 | 7 ratings
November
1992
0.00 | 0 ratings
NOSMO KING ( with ANDY LaVERNE)
1992
4.00 | 3 ratings
FAREWELL (with ANDY LaVERNE / GEORGE MRAZ / ADAM NUSSBAUM)
1993
3.88 | 5 ratings
Speak Of The Devil
1993
3.00 | 4 ratings
Gateway: In The Moment
1994
0.00 | 0 ratings
THE LONNIE SMITH = JOHN ABERCROMBIE TRIO: AFRO BLUE
1994
3.80 | 5 ratings
Gateway: Homecoming
1994
3.09 | 4 ratings
Open Land
1999
3.67 | 3 ratings
Cat 'n' Mouse
2002
3.08 | 5 ratings
Class Trip
2004
0.00 | 0 ratings
Structures( with Eddie Gomez and Gene Jackson )
2006
3.45 | 9 ratings
The Third Quartet
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
Topics (with John Ruocco)
2008
3.60 | 5 ratings
John Abercrombie Quartet: Wait Til You See Her
2009
3.50 | 4 ratings
Within A Song
2012

JOHN ABERCROMBIE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Abercrombie/Johnson/Erskine
1989
0.00 | 0 ratings
Where We Were (with Andie LaVerne)
1996
3.09 | 4 ratings
Tactics
1996
2.05 | 3 ratings
The Hudson Project
2000

JOHN ABERCROMBIE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Art Of The Duo
2005

JOHN ABERCROMBIE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Rarum XIV: Selected Recordings
2004

JOHN ABERCROMBIE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

JOHN ABERCROMBIE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Timeless by ABERCROMBIE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.71 | 34 ratings

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Timeless
John Abercrombie Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I've been enjoying guitarist extraordinaire John Abercrombie's "Gateway" album for years now, so to finally get my hands on his debut has been nothing short of outstanding. "Gateway" was John's second album and featured Jack DeJohnette (drums) and Dave Holland (bass) while "Timeless" also featured a trio with DeJohnette, but instead of Holland we get Jan Hammer on a variety of keyboards. So yes there's a different feel to this one when compared to "Gateway" but both are incredible.

Up first is the over 12 minute "Lungs" which is a real trip. At first everything is very uptempo with Hammer and DeJohnette leading the way then Abercrombie comes in with some fast paced soloing. This continues for almost 3 1/2 minutes then it calms right down to a whisper. Things stay laid back as different sounds come and go right to the end. Such a cool track. "Love Song" as you might imagine is a mellow track with the tasteful guitar and piano standing out. "Ralph's Piano Waltz" opens with jazzy drumming from DeJohnette as guitar and keyboards help out in this tasteful composition. Hammer comes in around 2 1/2 minutes on his Hammond to spice things up the rest of the way.

"Red And Orange" sounds great early on with the guitar, organ and drums setting a brisk pace. Hammer is so impressive here, but then they all are. Abercrombie comes and goes ripping it up. "Remembering" is a ballad-like instrumental. "Timeless" ends things on a high. At almost 12 minutes this beast starts off in an atmospheric manner, almost spacey really. Guitar sounds rise out of the mist. This is really good. The atmosphere fades out after 4 minutes as gentle guitar notes continue soon to be joined by intricate drumming and keyboards. This is all so laid back and beautiful. My favourite track on the album right here.

A very solid 4 stars and a must have along with "Gateway" for all you Jazz / Fusion fans out there.

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 November by ABERCROMBIE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.91 | 7 ratings

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November
John Abercrombie Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Matti
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars As fuxi says, John Abercrombie is a great jazz guitarist but with a relatively low profile. His vast dicogrpahy is very varied, much of it being Post-Bop. This album is an unmistakable ECM product, featuring the familiar spacey sound, courtesy of Manfred Eicher, and top musicians from the ECM label. On top of the cover Abercrombie's name is equally followed by "Marc Johnson Peter Erskine w/ John Surman". Erskine is drummer-composer, Johnson plays bass. John Surman is a British modern jazz legend, a unique composer who plays bass clarinet and saxes, and on this album his contribution is very central. Indeed bass clarinet is not too often heard, also I adore its nocturnal sound here. And of course the rhythm section is absolute first rate. All members are credited for compositions, Abercrombie slightly more than others.

John Abercrombie's output is not very familiar to me this far but seems to be worth more exploration. This album is nearly 70 minutes, and for the most part really keeps the listener's attention. There's plenty of strong atmospheres and some raw, proggish edge that suitably is softened by the Eicher production. Warmly recommended to listeners of guitar jazz/ fusion, John Surman or ECM jazz in general.

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 Gateway by ABERCROMBIE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.21 | 33 ratings

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Gateway
John Abercrombie Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars A very interesting Jazz album from three extraordinary talents. Abercrombie on guitar, DeJohnette on drums and Holland on bass. This is quite different from the Rypdal, DeJohnette and Vitous album also released by ECM. Abercrombie and Rypdal have very different styles and that changes the overall sound between the two.

"Gateway" begins with three fairly laid back tunes that are quite intricate as the bass, guitar and drums seem to do their own thing. "Waiting" puts the spotlight on Holland as he leads the way with some cymbals added in. "May Dance" is where we get some passion from Abercrombie after 5 minutes then Holland solos once again. "Unshielded Desire" sounds so good mainly because up until now it's been fairly mellow and intricate. This song is very dynamic with DeJohnette offering up a great drum intro as Abercrombie comes in soloing over top. This continues as the guitar lights it up while the drums pound away. "Jamala" is mellow with cymbals, guitar and bass. "Sorcery I" will challenge your mind. After all that's gone before which I must say requires some patience,we are hit with an experimental intro before the guitar and drums start to wield their might before 2 minutes. It settles to a Jazzy mode a minute later then Abercrombie starts to set the soundscape ablaze. My God ! He's ripping it up 5 1/2 minutes in. I'm laughing at this section because of the joy I feel. DeJohnette not to be left out starts to dominte before 9 1/2 minutes to the end. I don't have an I-Pod yet but if I did this 11 minute tour de force would be on it. Killer track.

A special album that is an honour to own. 4 solid stars.

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 The Third Quartet by ABERCROMBIE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.45 | 9 ratings

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The Third Quartet
John Abercrombie Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Excellent album of electric jazz/fusion guitar veteran John Abercrombie. In the first decade of new century he plays very aerial, extremely elegant and tasteful contemporary jazz. His electric guitar is only electric instrument on all recording, it's supported by acoustic rhythm section and violin.

John's collaborators on this album are really great: drummer Joey Baron and violinist Mark Feldman both are known by collaborations with John Zorn, and were long-time Masada members as well.

Interplay between electric guitar and acoustic violin are fantastic: if you remember Masada's violin sound, played by Feldman, you can easily imagine, how much warm and melancholic elements his violin can produce! Recording sound is very acoustic, in minimalistic production tradition of ECM recordings.

Rhythm section is ascetic, but very competent. You will hardly find such a great balance between high art and accessibility in contemporary jazz. For sure, there are no fusion at all, so this album is a real gem, but for highest class jazz lovers only.

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 Timeless by ABERCROMBIE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.71 | 34 ratings

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Timeless
John Abercrombie Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Kazuhiro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Part of orthodox and acoustic part. And, it is methodological of the performance that has already been established. This John Abercrombie is always paid to attention as one of the guitar players who keep reforming always in Jazz/Fusion continuing the original performance.

The work that informed the world of his name was to have appointed to the recording of "Total Eclipse" that Billy Cobham had announced in 1974 though he had competing with various musicians before this album of the debut. Eminence might have gone up enough for the performance of him with whom an original interpretation and the intellect for music overflowed. And, it competes with Johnny"Hammond" Smith. Performance from Dreams of Rock group with Chico Hamilton. Because Abercrombie formed the base of music, these situations will have been elements enough. And, his involved young power his greeting and at that time is reflected enough in the album in this debut album. And, I will be able to ask the performance by Trio of this irregular organ enough for the zeal of Abercrombie.

"Lungs" is composed of some parts as the entire composition. An overwhelming opening speed and power show a complete technology. Ensemble of Trio is overwhelming. And, the performance of John Abercrombie might construct the music character with the angle besides the performance of the guitar players such as John McLaughlin and Larry Coryell. The tune advances with the development of Improvisation gradually. A good tension for the composition of the tune is given by as many as two people (Jan Hammer and Jack De Johnette) and it is continued. And, the flow that the synthesizer twines round the part of Bass by Jan Hammer might be indeed unique. A heavy part in close relation to a constant rhythm feels the area of the width of this Trio. It is a tune of which the element as Jazz Rock went out strongly very much. Because Jan Hammer composed, this tune might have the element of Mahavishnu Orchestra a little.

As for "Love Song", the melody of the piano and the guitar with the anacatesthesia is impressive. The progress of beautiful Chord might remarkably reflect the title of the tune in the tune. It talks about the piano and the guitar by music.

Playing the guitar with originality in the flow of Waltz exactly twines round "Ralph's Piano Waltz" well. The performance of Abercrombie will have an element original as for the method of settlement of the sound in which it lands when also thinking about progress and Ad-Rib of the tune because originality has gone out strongly. The tune gradually receives the top while making the theme cross each other to Ad-Rib by the organ. The sound of the guitar that uses the method of the volume is also impressive.

As for "Red And Orange", a complex, intermittent melody twines round the line of Bass by Jan Hammer. Because Jan Hammer composed as well as "Lungs" this tune, it is ..very high-quality Jazz Rock.. finished. And, the guitar and the drum answer the idea of Jan Hammer enough. The dash feeling of this tune might be also overwhelming. The tension is always continued.

"Remembering" shifts from the start of the guitar that gives the impression of uneasiness and the piano to a beautiful flow. The technology that Abercrombie cultivated listens to the impression not staying in simple Jazz/Fusion in this tune. Manfred Eicher that collects the tune in such a part, the feature as ECM might be added enough. It listens to the parts of a few avant-gardes.

"Timeless" starts from the flow of the float in the space. The melody of the guitar with the flow and the anacatesthesia of the synthesizer creates one space. A few, ambient flows progress quietly attended with the rhythm. Enough power might be exactly involved to the creation of Abercrombie with the performance.

This debut album might exist as overwhelming Jazz Rock in the work of John Abercrombie.

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 Current Events by ABERCROMBIE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.04 | 7 ratings

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Current Events
John Abercrombie Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams

3 stars During the mid-nineteen eighties, ECM was focusing on light, but usually interesting electric jazz. Think Pat Metheny for a reference point for what they were looking for. This album is exactly in that Metheny zone. Light, but mostly unmemorable guitar based fusion.

The opening track, Clint, could actually be a nice prog song if it had a stronger arrangement. Here, Abercrombie's guitar synth remains light (damn, that work keeps coming up) and bouncy throughout. Notable on this track is Erskine's energetic drumming. Alice In Wonderland, and Lisa are all primarily guitar solo pieces, with some acoustic bass soloing as well, so soft that you hardly notice them. Abercrombie is a great player, but some more dynamics would be nice.

Hippityville picks things up, just a bit, with Abercrombie back on the guitar synth, and Erskine's drums pushing the beat up a notch. Killing Time is a nice, free form guitar synth solo piece. Still is moody and atmospheric.

So the main description for the album: you guessed it, light!

2.5 stars, Erskine's drums rounds it up.

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 The Third Quartet by ABERCROMBIE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.45 | 9 ratings

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The Third Quartet
John Abercrombie Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Don't expect any Jazz-Rock or other musical fusions here: this is strictly Jazz of the purest kind, from one of its most esteemed players. And if you don't already possess a well-developed palate for the real thing, feel free to skip the rest of this review (or better yet, give the album a fair hearing: it might just surprise and / or enrich you more than expected).

The instrumentation is unusual for an otherwise traditional Jazz combo: drums, upright bass, guitar, and violin, the latter introducing hints of Folk Music richness into the ensemble. Abercrombie's guitar is the only electrified instrument in the group, but his amplification is attractively muted to fit snugly alongside his acoustic cohorts (all ace players, it goes without saying).

The music itself is beyond criticism. Each of the ten entirely instrumental tracks is never less than exquisite, refined, subtle, and intuitive. All of them together form a simple yet sophisticated album, following to the letter the ECM label motto: 'the most beautiful sound next to silence'.

My conservative rating is only a reflection of the sometimes limiting Prog Archives guidelines (the album is hardly essential to a strictly Prog Rock music library). Veteran Jazz aficionados (I'm more of a dedicated tourist myself) can add another star at their discretion.

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 While We're Young by ABERCROMBIE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.06 | 11 ratings

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While We're Young
John Abercrombie Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Kazuhiro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars His distinguished services in ECM are known well with a great masterpiece. The style of the guitar of Abercrombie will have an original style in the item of Jazz. Some tone and a transparent tone are offered to us in his style compared with the guitar players such as John Scofield and Pat Metheny. As for the career and the originality of the music of Abercrombie, it is consistent and there might be a lot of fans that like his style in the item of Jazz though the style such as Bill Frisell might enter the item of course, too.

The musician often looks for the partner with good compatibility in the item of Jazz. Of course, work in his ECM also had some the tendencies. Keith Jarrett of the musician who represented ECM also handled work in Trio and it gave birth to a lot of masterpieces. The form of Jarrett-Peacock-DeJohnette was established and made the performance known to the world in the item of Jazz.

The performance that Abercrombie did in the 80's has advanced by one form and established. It is remarkably shown by making the direction of the music that he creates a work. Many of the performance that he had done in the 80's were often expressed occasionally in the forms of Trio as well as Keith Jarrett. It might be known as Trio of Abercrombie-Johnson-Erskine. The support by this Marc Johnson and Peter Erskine has succeeded in the increase of degree of freedom for abercrombie and the construction of the original world. It is guessed that the free form was a flow that pursues his creation at this time further.

"Works" that had been announced as shape of the best album in 1991 It was a work that expressed the history and distinguished services of his of that music indeed remarkably. Of course, the tune to demonstrate results as his Trio satisfactorily was collected. And, the album that works in shape to develop the directionality of the music that had been done further before is this work.

If Trio of a familiar, because of item of Jazz deep guitar, Bass, and drum imagines it, the revolution and the challenge of Abercrombie can be felt in this work. The fact that he selected the form in the organ and the drum might finished in an irregular a little form. However, the selection is guessed to be a natural act enough in the history of his music. He was offering the listener the possibility of the Trio enough in a similar form with organ Trio as for "Timeless" that had been announced in 1974.

The fan to enumerate Lifetime of Tony Williams might be not few if looking for from the item of Jazz/Fusion in Trio of the organ. It is possible to listen to the sound making where a transparent feeling overflows consistently in Trio. The composition of the tune that requires fast and slow and the idea of Abercrombie are splendidly expressed in this work along the image of ECM.

The tune to which a fine nuance and an aggressive element are taken is a creation that only these three people can do and music is expressed from Trio of Johnson-Erskine completely as another angle.

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 The Third Quartet by ABERCROMBIE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.45 | 9 ratings

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The Third Quartet
John Abercrombie Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Dr Clovenhoof

3 stars If you don't like the so-called 'ECM sound' associated with modern European jazz then this is probably best avoided, but if, like me, you can't get enough of it, then its definatley worth listening to. It is a lovely melodious set. Abercrombie, as always, has a gentle, wistful guitar sound, but the real star of the album is Marc Feldman's violin. His playing is lyrical and emotive. Feldman may also be known to experimental jazz fans for his playing with John Zorn's Masada quartet and he has also appeared with Michael Brecker. The delicate, but edgy atmosphere of the album is maintained throughout by the restrained, but brilliant drumming of Joey Baron, another veteran of the Massada quartet and Manfred Eicher's production is clean and uncluttered. Its not an album that will grab you by the throat, but give it a chance and it might just take you on a journey. The opening tune, 'Banshee' sets the tone for the rest of the album which peaks for me with the gorgeous 'Tres'. Strangely, the track called 'Epilogue' does not come at the end of the album, although perhaps it was conceptually intended to, as the two tracks that follow it don't really add anything to the mix.

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 Gateway by ABERCROMBIE, JOHN album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.21 | 33 ratings

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Gateway
John Abercrombie Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by The Owl
Prog Reviewer

5 stars This 1975 release on the ECM label had more ferocity and fangs than your average ECM disc of the time. Having come fresh off a recording session with Oregon's Colin Walcott for his Cloud Dance album, the three musicians decided to stir up some electrified and inspired mayhem of their own.

Bassist Dave Holland leads the charge on Backwoods Song, starting innocently enough with a country-ish groove, then enters DeJohnette to give it further drive, then Abercrombie steers it toward the outer fringes of the woods, so to speak, with a vaguely unsettling, warbling melody, leading to a bluesy turnaround. From there, JA takes you to the darkest most unknown parts of this woods with his relentless guitar musings. Waiting is Dave Hollands' hypnotic bass solo piece that definitely conveys that feeling very well in fact. May Dance is a sunnier, more upbeat bop-inspired romp with Abercrombie leading the way with a clean yet edgy jazz tone from his axe.

Things get more intense with Unshielded Desire a duet of Abercrombie and DeJohnette that recalls the fiery exchanges of Coltrane and Elvin Jones from a decade earlier, both musicians relentlessly search for new melodic ideas as the piece almost blows itself apart. Jamal is a beautifully mysterious and enigmatic interaction between Abercrombie and Holland, To close on a high note, there is Sorcery 1, starting with menacing spook noises from Abercrombie and equally menacing percussion noises weave in and out, building in intensity until Abercrombie roars in with some of the spookiest long sustained notes this side of Hendrix as DeJohnette unleashes violent explosions of drums and cymbals while Holland roars authoritatively underneath them eventually winding down and leaving you spooked.

As is typical with ECM recordings, the overall ambience is spacious as all outdoors, yet the instruments are so crisp (especially drums and bass) while Abercrombie is recorded with just enough reverb and distance to give him, to my ears, one of the most genuinely unsettling, spooky and unique electric guitar sounds of the time, he sounded like NOBODY else.

Fusion with a strong emphasis on the JAZZ part of the equation with that kind of looseness combined with the ferocity of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. A great postcard from when creativity was the norm!

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