16.12. – Happy Birthday !!! In a world of rampant populism, the description “musicians’ musician” might become even more of a backhand compliment, but if anyone can defend its virtues,
it’s American guitarist John Abercrombie – a 1970s jazz-rock pioneer who then nurtured his own kind of gracefully cool small-band jazz over four decades with ECM. With Marc Copland on piano, Drew Gress on bass and Joey Baron on drums, the lineup repeats 2013’s 39 Steps, and again the tracks are all Abercrombie/Copland originals, save a single classic – here Miles Davis’s Nardis, sketched in hints and glimpses until a groove arrives. Abercrombie’s slowly rapturous melody Joy has something of the storytelling lilt of a Nino Rota theme, and on tracks such as the bass-walking Flipside and Silver Circle (the best here), they swing while hitting hardly any accent hard, though the guitarist’s yodelly low notes and quietly snarly passing notes get almost aggressive on the latter. The whole album is the quintessence of jazz power in reserve.