John Abercrombie

John Laird Abercrombie, December 16, 1944 – August 22, 2017, was an American jazz guitarist and composer. His works included jazz fusion, jazz fusion, jazz fusion, jazz free jazz, and avant-garde music. Abercrombie was a student at Berklee College of Music, Boston, Massachusetts. His debut album Timeless was recorded with Manfred Eicher’s ECM label. Since then, he has recorded primarily with this label. Abercrombie was a member of the Billy Cobham, Ralph Towner and Jack DeJohnette bands, as well as Charles Lloyd, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, and Charles Lloyd. His minimalist, understated, and eclectic style was well-known as well as his work with organ trios. John Abercrombie was a New Yorker who was born December 16, 1944 in Port Chester. At the age of 14, he took up the guitar. He started by following Chuck Berry’s lead, but he discovered jazz through Barney Kessel. From 1962 to 1966, he attended Berklee College of Music and studied with Jack Petersen, a well-known guitarist educator. He played often with Jazz Workshop students at Paul’s Mall in Boston, a jazz club that was connected to Jazz Workshop. Paul’s Mall gigs provided opportunities for Johnny Hammond Smith, organist, and the Brecker Brothers (saxophone player Michael Brecker as well as his brother, Randy Brecker), to meet. Smith asked Abercrombie if he would play with him. They performed at Boston’s Big M Club as well as on tours. Abercrombie was a Berklee graduate in 1967. He briefly attended North Texas State University before moving on to New York in 1969. He was quickly a “most in-demand” session player, recording with Gil Evans in 1974 and Gato Barbieri 1971, as well as Barry Miles 1972. He joined Dreams in 1969. This was one of the first jazz-rock groups to rise to prominence. It featured the Brecker Brothers as well as drummer Billy Cobham. He recorded on many of Cobham’s albums, including Crosswinds and Total Eclipse, as well as Shabazz. Because Dreams was gaining popularity, Abercrombie’s fan base began to grow. Abercrombie was able to share billing with other rock acts like the Doobie Brothers and his career took a new direction. “One night, we were at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. I was confused and wondered what I was doing. It didn’t make sense. Manfred Eicher, a German producer and founder ECM Records, invited Abercrombie in 1973 to record for ECM. In 1974, Abercrombie recorded Timeless, his first solo album. He was joined by Jack DeJohnette, drummer, and Jan Hammer, Hammond organist. It was critically acclaimed and well received, and it marked the beginning of his long-lasting relationship with ECM. Abercrombie’s subdued and understated music was a good example of the music he made throughout his career. DeJohnette and Dave Holland formed Gateway in 1975. They recorded the albums Gateway (1976), and Gateway II (1978). Abercrombie began to play differently and use more traditional instruments after the release of Gateway. Arcade, The Abercrombie Quartet and M were recorded by him with bassist George Mraz and drummer Peter Donald. Abercrombie stated that this quartet was crucial because it was his first chance to be a leader and to write consistently for the same musicians. He also participated in ensembles that DeJohnette led from the mid-1970s through the 1980s. He also took part in many other sessions for ECM, sometimes doubled on the electric mandolin. He recorded and toured two albums with Ralph Towner (Sargasso Sea 1976, Five Years Later 1981). He continued playing standards with Mraz in the mid-1980s and played in a jazz duo with John Scofield. [3] Abercrombie experimented with a guitar synthesizer while recording with Marc Johnson on bass, Peter Erskine drums, and while working with Paul Bley on a free jazz band. The guitar-synth was his main instrument until 1990. He said that the synthesizer enabled him to play and was “louder, opener music”. The trio of Abercrombie released three albums that showcased the guitar-synth during this period: Current Events (1986), and Getting There (1987), with Michael Brecker, John Abercrombie, Marc Johnson.

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