John Abercrombie Trio: While We’re Young (ECM 1489)

John Abercrombie Trio
While We’re Young

John Abercrombie guitars
Dan Wall Hammond organ
Adam Nussbaum drums
Recorded June 1992 at Power Station, New York
Engineer: James A. Farber
Produced by Manfred Eicher

John Abercrombie fronts the first of his trio recordings with Dan Wall on Hammond organ and Adam Nussbaum on drums. This sumptuous combination of instruments, cradled in ECM’s enabling acoustics no less, is candy for the ears. Dividing the record into two halves, one finds the first bubbling with excitement. One might not know it from the all-consuming gaze of “Rain Forest,” in which Wall takes center stage. Bathed in a rough and dimly lit spotlight, he listens to his own stories as if someone else was telling them, but gives way to the swell of “Stormz.” Abercrombie takes slow but steady shape, ringing like the edge of a coin blown and held to the edge of an ear, now tumbling, now sprinting, with an eye ever-trained to some distant point that holds his attention by a thread of perspective from pick to horizon. In “Dear Rain,” Nussbaum’s drumming indeed evokes the patter of precipitation as Wall’s tender strains waft through the humid air. All of this seems but fuel to “Mirrors,” which turns up the flames on this gas stove to a deep and lively blue. Fantastic playing abounds on this one, but particularly from Nussbaum, who keeps us on our toes.

“Carol’s Carol” links a chain of memories toward the album’s darker side. Erskine’s cymbals form the peak of some mountainous drumming, sending us over into the neighboring valley of “Scomotion.” This down-tempo tribute to John Scofield tones the remainder down to a quiet smolder. Abercrombie finds sentimental breadth in “A Matter Of Time,” kindling to Wall’s probing sparks, while “Dolorosa” ends on a tearful note, made all the more so by the guitar’s lovely sound, setting us down from a beautiful and reflective effort before going on its silent way.

<< Bley/Peacock/Oxley/Surman: In The Evenings Out There (ECM 1488)
>> Gary Peacock/Ralph Towner: Oracle (ECM 1490)

2 thoughts on “John Abercrombie Trio: While We’re Young (ECM 1489)

  1. This review reminds me that I need to re-investigate Abercrombie’s organ trio releases. Though well done and enjoyable they are also quite subtle in spots, and thus were easier than some of the flashier ECMs to put on the back burner.

    1. I think this album is, as they say, a “grower” not a “shower.” The only Abercrombie organ trio recording I’ve heard so far. Looking forward to the rest.

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