John Abercrombie Quartet: Abercrombie Quartet (ECM 1164)

 

John Abercrombie Quartet
Abercrombie Quartet

John Abercrombie guitar, mandolin guitar
Richard Beirach piano
George Mraz bass
Peter Donald drums
Recorded November 1979 at Talent Studio
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

One year after debuting with Arcade, the John Abercrombie Quartet cut out the auditory paper doll that is this curiously overlooked sophomore effort. What set the quartet apart from its contemporaries was not only the fluid playing of its frontman and the ways in which it intertwines with that of musicians who are clearly beyond intuitive, but also the sense of development in the structuring and ordering of tunes. Beginning with the pianistic groove of “Blue Wolf” and ending on the acoustically minded “Foolish Dog,” this self-titled peregrination winds itself into a tour de force of solemn virtuosity. From Richie Beirach’s overwhelming cascades to the contortions of bassist George Mraz, we encounter a virtual entity of unity whose heartbeat counts off to the drumming of Peter Donald and whose eyes glow with Abercrombie’s characteristic pale fire. This body unfolds into a misty landscape, where the gusts of “Dear Rain” spread melodies into the open pastures that is our love for harmony. Looser gestures like “Stray” (here, both verb and noun) share appendages with the resignation of “Madagascar,” which falls like a sheet from a clothesline in an oncoming storm. As the quartet grows in fully, Abercrombie’s gentle remonstrations graze the bellies of clouds with the barest touch of curled fingers, allowing “Riddles” to build their conversational nests in the branches of an undisclosed longing.

No matter how “into it” these musicians get, they always display an admirable restraint, so committed are they to the thematic altar around which they cast their spells. There is a sound that lingers on the palate, one that finds in its cessation the birth of something new.

7 thoughts on “John Abercrombie Quartet: Abercrombie Quartet (ECM 1164)

  1. Nel 1978 John Abercrombie assemblò un quartetto votato a sobrietà, discrezione, finezza e mutua empatia, col quale incise tre album che rimangono tra i capolavori assoluti del catalogo ECM. In particolare, sebbene ancora inediti su CD, i primi due episodi conservano una freschezza e un’originalità stilistica inalterate. L’omogenea trama sonora degli arrangiamenti si deve alle alchimie acustiche di Richie Beirach (pianoforte) e George Mraz (contrabbasso), all’elegante tocco di Peter Donald (batteria) e all’inconfondibile, nitido riverbero elettrico del leader. Per dire della coesione, Abercrombie lascia firmare a un ispiratissimo Beirach 3/5 della scaletta di Arcade e metà dei brani del capitolo successivo. I temi alternano figure ritmiche ricorrenti (Arcade; Alchemy; Blue Wolf; Madagascar; Riddles), melodie ingegnose (Dear Rain; Foolish Dog), armonizzazioni sofisticate (Nightlake; Stray), tutte strutture formali volte a stimolare l’inventiva dei solisti. L’ininterrotto susseguirsi di spasmi e dilatamenti stravolge le partiture, fino a trascenderle a beneficio di una sublime, virginea essenza musicale. Paramour è una memorabile pagina del chitarrista già registrata sullo splendido Characters. L’archetto di Mraz dona un suggestivo afflato cameristico a Neptune. Gli eccelsi standard di alta fedeltà offerti dal Talent Studio di Oslo designano Jan Erik Kongshaug come il vero erede di Rudy Van Gelder. – B.A.

  2. This is one of the most brilliant contemporary jazz masterpieces. It’s a crime that it’s not available on CD. We can get old Weather Report and Pat Metheny CDs from this era, but not this album, it just doesn’t make sense.

    1. Yes! Yes!
      Une réédition de M, Quartet, en coffret, en CD ou en téléchargement flac HD 24bit 192khz serait une réussite.
      Arcade existe déjà en CD (japan).
      Thanks in advance.

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