John Abercrombie

Night

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This surprising 1984 effort from John Abercrombie finds the guitarist in conversation with Jan Hammer, Jack DeJohnette, and Mike Brecker. The lack of a bassist on this session is not felt; the spaciousness of the music and the masterful playing of all parties involved keep the focus clearly on the melodies, both scripted and improvised. This can best be heard on the title track, a lovely, tear-wrenching ballad. On some of the more up-tempo tracks, Hammer covers the bass end with his keyboards almost like he is taking part in an organ trio. Unlike the high-velocity fusion that Hammer is best known for in his work with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Al DiMeola, and elsewhere, his work on Night is highly subdued. In fact, his playing is one of the most pleasant things about this record. It's nice to hear him doing something other than blaring away at a million miles a minute. He really is an excellent keyboardist, and his range is often underappreciated. However, the excellent compositions by Hammer and Abercrombie are the strongest thing about Night. One of the best is the opener, "Ethereggae," which features an incredible guitar solo over a sparse, haunting synth figure and DeJohnette's incomparable comping. When Brecker adds his pointed, searching tenor, the despair and loneliness of the music are almost too much to bear. This record is the kind of album that one would like to hear while enjoying a late-night cigarette on the roof of a Manhattan apartment. Moody, atmospheric, and beautiful.

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