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John Abercrombie - Gateway: Gateway CD (album) cover


John Abercrombie


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.21 | 50 ratings

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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!

The Owl | 5/5 |


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