This is the third installment of guitar hero John Abercrombie’s quartet; hence the album title. And with thirty-three years as an ECM recording artist, this album catalogues a newer direction and musical climate for a performer who has few peers in the biz. A true stylist who possesses an idiosyncratic phraseology, he’s found a level of comfort with this unit, following his previous organ-combo recordings and reunion with Gateway
. In effect, this band transmits more of a museum-quality type artistic statement. But don’t let any semblances of a dust-off and show
notion fool you. Here, Abercrombie and violinist Mark Feldman engage in streaming lines via a contrapuntal flair. And of course the nearly matchless rhythm section of Marc Johnson (b) and Joey Baron (d) impel the soloists with a limber bottom-end, awash with keenly rendered dynamics and shadings. Therefore, the quartet’s rather absorbing impetus is designed with controlled fire power, often-fused with an open-air sound as space and depth are used for thematic development purposes.
The quartet pursues a delicate dreamscape with ethereal overtones on the piece titled "Number 9," where Feldman and Abercrombie produce bittersweet choruses. With many of these passages the ensemble merges eloquence with intensifying motifs. Simply stated, the musicians don’t delve into matters with a fast and furious methodology. As poignant soloing and medium-tempo swing vamps are frequently embellished by blossoming exchanges.
Abercrombie sports a subtle, fuzz-tone sound during "Bred," while the quartet injects a perky undercurrent into Ornette Coleman’s "Round Trip." In sum, the third edition of the quartet’s singular voice is founded upon countless qualities and innumerable distinctions. (Recommended listening.... )