John Abercrombie

While We're Young

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Echoing tones from the well-known Timeless recording, Abercrombie is back in the organ-drums-guitar saddle. This time around, though, the sound is much more underground/labyrinth-like. His guitar molds and shapes these compositions, sometimes steely or snarly, at others passive and meditative. Dan Wall's intense organ stirs the drink, his orchestral, expansive approach evoking definite memories of Larry Young, while drummer Adam Nussabaum proves his extraordinary listening capacity while playing off his colleagues. The result is a stunning fusion of electrified in-your-head jazz, rooted on terra firma, gazing to the stars, and it won't let go. Abercrombie's writing reflects a stealth approach, his pieces have an underlying warmth that can at any time strike terror into your heart. "Stormz" has a soaring, loose yet cohesive mood, Nussbaum's quick drumming lighting the fuse, where, by contrast, "Dear Rain" has a gentler feeling Abercrombie inspired by Nussbaum's cymbal washes. "Scomotion" is really patient, no doubt a head nod to fellow guitarist John Scofield, with a lyrical line that is at once bluesy and cerebral. The showstoppers are written by Wall; "Rain Forest" is a dark, modal piece set up by a three-chord pattern from the organist. This trio hits on many different angles, from somber and reverent to acutely kinetic and truly electrifying. This is exploratory music, unique unto itself, and a landmark fusion of the '90s. If this kind of jazz is what you crave, those who were young in the '70s, it's a must-buy, no doubt.

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