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John Abercrombie - John Abercrombie, Marc Johnson & Peter Erskine : November CD (album) cover


John Abercrombie

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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4 stars John Abercrombie is one of the greatest jazz guitarists, but he's a also very modest man, not given to recording hummable tunes or producing the sort of Grand Projects his slightly younger contemporary Pat Metheny is notorious for. He quietly goes his own way.

On this album you can hear Abercrombie playing very loosely, poetically, imaginatively and free, in a session with British sax player John Surman (who sounds especially wonderful on bass clarinet - very nocturnal) and one of the greatest rhythm sections in contemporary jazz: Marc Johnson's rumbling bass, and Peter Erskine's delicate drumming. Hell, I'd recommend this album for Erskine alone!

I first heard NOVEMBER late at night, one summer when I was travelling through Japan on my own and approaching the volcanic island of Sakurajima by ferry from Kagoshima city. The ferry was decorated to look just like one of those riverboats with a "big wheel that keeps on turning" that you could see on the Mississippi, back in the days of Huckleberry Finn. I wasn't sure what I would find on Sakurajima, I felt rather worried about staying there as I thought the volcano (still active!) could blow its top at any moment. In the dark, Abercrombie's powerfully expressive lead guitar sounded comforting and threatening by turns. For me NOVEMBER will always be intimately connected with this particular journey.

NOVEMBER must be one of John Abercrombie's most progressive albums, together with OPEN LAND. I can imagine it will appeal to people who enjoy the instrumental parts of SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS, MORE or UMMAGUMMA. It's got the same kind of churchy sombreness, but the playing is far more virtuosic.

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Posted Sunday, June 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
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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Posted Friday, February 10, 2012 | Review Permalink

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