Guitarist John Abercrombie is one of the creators of the ECM Sound, and his new album is quintessential Abercrombie/ECM.
If you arrived late, ECM Records was sparked by Manfred Eichner in Germany and has become famous for its wide open free jazz recordings. The ECM Sound blends acoustic and electric instruments combining classic and contemporary jazz as well as traditional “folk” influences. The label also boasts a strong credo supporting improvisation and extemporaneous composition.
On his past releases for ECM and other labels, Abercrombie has proven one of the most skillful of modern jazz guitarists in embracing rock and roll techniques. He has not been afraid to augment his signal with phase shifters, pedals, guitar-synth, and an array of other effects. He is not just another jazz guitarist seeking the “polite” sound of the past.
Open Land is an apt title for this new CD, as the music is pure sonic landscape. Abercrombie is joined by an eclectic mix of musicians; Mark Feldman on violin, Kenny Wheeler on trumpet and flugelhorn, Joe Lovano on tenor sax, Dan Wall on organ, and Adam Nussbaum on drums. Together they create jazz that is adventurous, wandering between classic song heads and inspired improvisation.
This review originally appeared in VG‘s Aug. ’00 issue.