White guitarist John Abercrombie (1944) made a sensation in 1970 when he joined
Dreams, a jazz-rock group led by Michael and Randy Brecker.
His debut album Timeless (june 1974), in a trio with keyboardist Jan Hammer and drummer Jack DeJohnette, wed a lyrical while rocking approach to the
guitar (more prominent in the eleven-minute Timeless)
with visceral keyboards-driven fusion jazz (Hammer's 12-minute Lungs).
At the same time, in 1974 Abercrombie joined Billy Cobham's Spectrum, a group
that basically reunited him with the Breckers.
His command of tone became legendary.
Abercrombie, DeJohnette and bassist Dave Holland formed the trio Gateway,
that released Gateway (march 1975) and Gateway 2 (july 1977), mostly
composed by Holland.
Abercrombie also played in DeJohnette's Directions (1976) and New Directions (1978).
However, Abercrombie's musical persona was better represented
by the most humble records of that period.
Sargasso Sea (may 1976), a duo album with fellow guitarist Ralph Towner,
contrasted Abercrombie's lively and intricate style with Towner's
impressionistic and transcendent style in some of Abercrombie's most atmospheric
The solo album Characters (november 1977) was a showcase of his vibrant
technique and of his unnerving compositions
(Parable, Ghost Dance, Evensong).
In 1979 Abercrombie and pianist Richard Beirach formed a quartet documented on
Arcade (december 1978), with Arcade, Quartet (november 1979), with
Blue Wolf, and M (november 1980), with Boat Song, that
emphasized melody and verve.
Five Years Later (march 1981) was another collaborations with Towner, but this time there was no magic, just cliches.
Solar (december 1983) was, instead, a duo with guitarist John Scofield.
The ethereal Night (april 1984) was a nostalgic reunion of sort with Hammer, DeJohnette and Michael Brecker (Look Around).
Abercrombie formed a trio with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Peter Erskine, documented on albums of a stark, austere new-age style:
Current Events (september 1985), with the dreamy Still and Abercrombie's
first experiments with the guitar-synthesizer,
Getting There (april 1987),
John Abercrombie/Marc Johnson/Peter Erskine (april 1988)
and November (november 1992), featuring guest John Surman.
Animato (october 1989) was a trio with synthesist Vince Mendoza and drummer Jon Christensen (almost entirely composed by Mendoza).
A new guitar-organ-drums trio recorded While We're Young (june 1992),
Speak of the Devil (july 1993), with Chorale, and the live Tactics (july 1996), but the material was weak.
For Open Land (september 1998) the trio added violinist Mark Feldman, trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and tenorist Joe Lovano, probably the best Abercrombie album of
A nostalgic reunion of Gateway yielded Homecoming (december 1994) and In the Moment (december 1994).
Now It Can Be Played (april 1992) and Farewell (april 1993) featured yet another quartet, this time with Andy LaVerne.
The Hudson Project (october 1998) was also a quartet session, with Erskine, bassist John Patitucci and saxophonist Bob Mintzer.
Abercrombie's inspiration was suddenly reborn when he formed the quartet with violinist Mark Feldman, drummer Joey Baron and bassist Marc Johnson. The guitarist's compositions, such as the waltzing A Nice Idea and Soundtrack on Cat'n'Mouse (december 2000), or Dansir and Descending Grace on Class Trip (february 2003) were majestic and haunting, while the performances were often mesmerizing (Feldman's work in Third Stream Samba on the former and in Excuse My Shoes on the latter).
Wait Till You See Her (december 2008) features
Mark Feldman (violin),
Thomas Morgan (double bass) and Joey Baron (drums).
Contact (january 2010) debuted the combo of saxophonist David Liebman, guitarist Joh Abercrombie, pianist Marc Copland, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Billy Hart.
Speak To Me (march 2011) documents a duet between pianist Marc Copland and guitarist John Abercrombie.
The quartet with Joe Lovano (tenor sax), Drew Gress (double-bass) and Joey Baron (drums) is documented on Within A Song (september 2011).
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