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John Abercrombie Quartet: Within a Song

Though he's got his name listed up there in the headlines, Within a Song, the latest from the John Abercrombie Quartet, is very much a 'band' effort as opposed to a solo album from a legendary jazz guitarist. In fact, Abercrombie takes a back seat to tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano on much of Within a Song, which on the whole is a very song based, melody driven affair, rather than a solo fest or rambling collection of improvisations. That should really surprise no one though who's followed Abercrombie over the years, as he's always gravitated towards the more melodic end of the jazz spectrum, but he's surprisingly low key here, instead letting Lovano, who is a fine soloist in his own right, take the lead and drive many of these tunes.

The band also features Drew Gress on the double-bass, and drummer Joey Baron. These two, along with Lovano, help shape Abercrombie's vision for Within a Song, which is to pay homage to the greats of the '60s jazz scene, specifically Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, and Bill Evans. As most of those artists and their respective bands were horn or reed driven, it's no surprise then really that the guitarist has asked Lovano to take on a more prominent role here. "Interplay" from Bill Evans features a silky solo from Abercrombie, but it's Lovano's soaring melodies and the intricate drum fills from Baron that really shine. Coltrane's "Wise One" lets all the players stick out equally, but the Miles Davis penned "Flamenco Sketches" and Coleman's "Blues Connotation" is all Lovano, and he really shows the listener what he's all about. His haunting melodies on the Abercrombie original "Easy Reader" are almost heart tugging, interrupted only for some nimble runs from the guitarist, but it's the leader himself who finally steps out into the spotlight on "Nick of Time", as his speedy lead melodies drive this little burner that also features some elastic lines from Gress.

As always with the music of John Abercrombie, there's just a huge amount of class and professionalism permeating each and every track here. This is a very talented band that don't overplay or venture too far into uncharted waters, but deliver melodic, sultry jazz that works on all levels. ECM once again releases a really nice product, complete with a great CD booklet packed with photos from the session and a short essay from Abercrombie. John Abercrombie guitar Joe Lovano tenor saxophone Drew Gress double-bass Joey Baron drums

Track Listing

  1. Where Are You
  2. Easy Reader
  3. Within A Song / Without A Song
  4. Flamenco Sketches
  5. Nick Of Time
  6. Blues Connotation
  7. Wise One
  8. Interplay
  9. Sometime Ago

Added: July 29th 2012
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band @ ECM Records
Hits: 1723
Language: english

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