COMPOSERS: John Abercrombie
ALBUM TITLE: John Abercrombie Quartet
WORKS: Up and Coming
PERFORMER: John Abercrombie (guitar), Marc Copland (piano), Drew Gress (double bass), Joey Baron (drums)
CATALOGUE NO: 572 3377
Guitarist John Abercrombie has been a mainstay of the ECM label catalogue for decades, with his distinctive approach, complex yet unfailingly euphonious, almost functioning as a signature for the label. That said, his abandonment of the plectrum in favour of plucking with the thumb, a technique used by some of the instrument’s finest exponents from Wes Montgomery to Jim Mullen, has had a subtle yet profound effect on both his sound and his articulation. The former has become the musical equivalent of a warm embrace while the latter, paradoxically, has taken on even more implosive energy.
This quartet’s music is typical of the artful mellifluousness associated with the guitarist’s groups, although drummer Joey Baron remains an interesting element; best known as an avant-gardist, his rhythmic precision and fearless dynamics walk a tightrope between underpinning and overstatement, exposed by ECM’s spacious recording style.