Tuesday, March 27, 2018

John Abercrombie Quartet - 1981 - M

John Abercrombie Quartet 

01. Boat Song 9:52
02. M 6:17
03. What Are The Rules 7:28
04. Flashback 6:13
05. To Be 5:14
06. Veils 5:42
07. Pebbles 4:42

Recorded November 1980 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg

John Abercrombie: electric and acoustic guitars
Richard Beirach: piano
George Mraz: bass
Peter Donald: drums

For its third ECM outing, the John Abercrombie Quartet produced this viscous and mysterious entity known simply as M. Strangely out of print, this seven-part exercise in burnished reflection plows its foggiest waters in “Boat Song.” Abercrombie’s guitar weeps like bells over a harbor, skimmed for flotsam by Richie Beirach’s somber piano. At nearly ten minutes, this is the longest track of the album, and its darkness haunts all that proceeds from it. We encounter this also in “To Be” (a rubato wave notable for George Mraz’s effortless bass work), and the harmonic inversions of “Veils.” Here, Abercrombie’s sinewy melodic lines stretch farthest, slowly immersing its hands into the “Pebbles” in which we find closure. Peter Donald’s drumming is particularly fine here and shines like sunrays from cloud-break.

Despite Abercrombie’s often piercing swan dives and a pirouetting rhythm section, even the liveliest moments in “What Are The Rules” (a rhetorical move proving there need be none) or “Flashback” never lift their feet too high off the ground. The latter’s circular conversations draw around us a perimeter that we are free to overstep. Yet after being bathed in such sonic finery, we feel reluctant to do so. The result is one of Abercormbie’s lushest albums, with a shadowy and tinny production style that writes a different story every time.

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