John Abercrombie Quartet: Within a Song (ECM/Ode)

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John Abercrombie Quartet: Interplay
John Abercrombie Quartet: Within a Song (ECM/Ode)

Although we look back on the Sixties as being a decade of remarkable invention and vibrancy in jazz -- through Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman and into the early energy of free jazz -- here guitarist Abercrombie and his seasoned quartet pay a more considered and quiet tribute on material and ideas from that era.

With saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Joey Barron, Abercrombie teases out material by Rollins from The Bridge (Where Are You, Without a Song imploded into the bouncy title title track original where Lovano picks up the pace), Ornette Coleman's Blues Connotation (from This is Our Music) nailed in a very contemporary deconstruction and letting the guitarist spiral into some fragmented but melodic playing, an especially beautiful, appropriately spiritual treatment of Coltrane's Wise One . . . and acknowledgments of his influences such as Jim Hall in his soft rounded tone (on Bill Evans' Interplay) and Davis' Sketches of Spain.

Easy Reader, an orignal, is inspired by Easy Rider -- although there is not a skerrick of Steppenwolf to be heard here. This is a low and reflective piece, more about the passing of Dennis Hopper perhaps than the character of the movie.

This is a thoughtful, respectful but not too reverential album which succeeds through understatement and the gentle pace of much of the material.

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