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731451907326

Details

Format: CD
Label: ECM IMPORT
Catalog: 1704_42580_0487
Rel. Date: 02/06/2001
UPC: 731451907326

November [Import]
Artist: John Abercrombie
Format: CD
New: Not in stock
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/Marc Johnson/Peter Erskine/John Surman.
Personnel: John Abercrombie (guitar); John Surman (soprano & baritone saxophones, bass clarinet); Marc Johnson (acoustic bass); Peter Erskine (drums).
Recorded at Rainbow Studios, Oslo, Norway in November 1992.
Personnel: John Abercrombie (guitar); John Surman (bass clarinet, soprano saxophone, baritone saxophone); Marc Johnson (double bass); Peter Erskine (drums).
Recording information: Rainbow Studio, Oslo, Norway (11/1992).
This 1993 recording of John Abercrombie's trio with a guest appearance by British saxophone giant and composer John Surman is, without question, a trademark ECM session. There's the spacious, pristine, icy production by label boss Manfred Eicher from his studio in Oslo. Next, all the players are ECM staples with the exception of Erskine, who plays everything from pop jazz to classical music. But there are many things that distinguish it as well. For one, Surman is playing here with a fire not heard since the early '70s. Whether he is blowing a baritone or soprano saxophone or his bass clarinet, he's cutting loose. There are long, looping lines that quote everyone from John Carter to Jim Pepper to Eric Dolphy and Ben Webster. His willingness to seek out the heart of dissonance inspires his bandmates, particularly on "The Cat's Back." From a nuanced, eerie wail to a Native American folk melody to smoky phraseology taken from "Chelsea Bridge," Surman pulls out all the stops and then puts them back in to make the tune whisper. Abercrombie doesn't exactly take a back seat on this date, but he does showcase his expansive knowledge of Tal Farlow's harmonic palette by playing extended chords either inside the melody or as a dissonant counterpoint to Surman. Other standouts include the title track with its strange, even alien, crosstalk between Johnson's bowed bass and Abercormbie's short, knotted leads. On Surman's ballad "Ogeda," too, Abercrombie investigates the manner in which the jazz tradition celebrates dissonant harmonies while using a kind of lyrical improvisation to keep the tune gently swinging. It's a solid session from beginning to end, but one still wishes Eicher would take his hands off the sound controls a bit, allowing some of the rawness that each of these players shows in live settings to enter the studio. ~ Thom Jurek
Those not inclined towards the less avant roots of the jazz genre might be better served by recommencing their continued investigations into the latest works of longtime ECM stablemate John Abercrombie. NOVEMBER finds the guitarist in a spirited quartet alongside the likes of bassist Johnson, drummer Peter Erskine, and saxophonist John Surman.
Though the album has its contemplative side (the lovely "J.S.," penned for and accompanied by Surman's piercing baritone), NOVEMBER's backbone is determined by the less-than-chilly energies of the title track and by European fusion exercises such as "The Cat's Back," where Surman's sax skitters throughout Abercrombie's slithery runs and Erskine's propulsive landscapes. NOVEMBER chooses to hover between free-form flights of fancy and contemplative traditionalist guises, always beguiling and inviting. Abercrombie remains one of contemporary jazz's great, unsung guitarists.
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