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John Abercrombie - Timeless CD (album) cover


John Abercrombie


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.77 | 62 ratings

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Dick Heath
Special Collaborator
Jazz-Rock Specialist
4 stars While John Abercrombie had been a professional musician, working and recording both in the main stream jazz and jazz rock fields for over 6 years, this was the first album under his own name. And the title 'Timeless' is most valid in telling the potential listener that the music has not aged. The album is seminal and one that stands out as original a record made during the heydays of jazz rock.

Abercrombie's jazz record sessions up to the 1974 recording date of this album, may have suggested an able guitarist, but one who lacked a voice, which otherwise marked out the likes of Mclaughlin or Connors, (who was then attracting attention in RTF). 'Timeless' was to change things inEurope, even if it took a little while to register in Abercrombie's home country. His live work at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Billy Cobham's Band had attracted the attention of the boss Manfred Eicher of the fledging german jazz record company ECM. Eicher signed him and ever since Abercrombie has rarely been found on any other label with his numerous album release. With Timeless Abercrombie is accompanied for the first of many times by both Jan Hammer (hot from the collapsed Mahavishnu, on keys and in particular the Hammond organ) and Jack DeJohnette (drum, who's jazz rock/fusion creditials were already long, e.g. played the jazz cross over of the Charles Lloyd Quintet mid 60's and with Miles Davis on the Bitches Brew sessions). Tune wise, here is mix of Abercrombie and Hammer compositions, along with a Ralph Towner piece. The style is very much of their own: high speed (as was the vogue at the time) but already showing the purity of sound that was to be the mark of later ECM 'European Chambers Jazz' albums. The interplay of Mahavishnu is carried over here with DeJohnette having an equal part in the trio; while the guitar leads, Hammer's organ (for the most part) fills in behind eloquently, and then vice versa. Jan Hammer's Hammond work attracted much attention - partly because this was an instrument most of his recent fans would have been unfamiliar for Hammer - but he has own way of attacking the keyboards, percussive and melodic at the same time. Compare the version of 'Red & Orange' here with Hammond the rawer version synth version heard on the Jan Hammer Group's 'Oh Yeah!'. And Abercrombie's guitar playing here less about effects and more a jazz guitarist in a sophisticated jazz rock company.

Overall an album which provides quite a different approach to jazz rock from those by RTF or MO at the time, although the attack and interplay will be recognised in all three groups.

A timeless album for any jazz rock collection, an album for any music lover who likes superb musicianship. 4.5 stars at least.

Dick Heath | 4/5 |


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