John Abercrombie's 1989 release UPON A TIME is, as the subtitle points out, an album of duets, mostly with bassist Mel Graves and drummer George Marsh. While bass and drum solos are often the punchlines of musical jokes, Graves and Marsh are skilled players with enough good taste to keep the flashiness to an interesting minimum. As for guitarist Abercrombie, his playing is typically brilliant, whether picking out the traditional melody of "My Scottish Heart" or moving into a more impressionistic sonic arena in tracks like "In the Woods" or "Chuck Man Rivers." Earthier and more expressly jazz-based than many releases on the ECM-affiliated New Albion label, UPON A TIME is a satisfying, richly rewarding album.
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AllMusic Review by AllMusic