(All Album Reviews by Hippy Pants)
ECM a few years back put out a series of albums entitled Works, which spotlighted a few of their recording artist like John Abercrombie, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, and several others. They were sort of a greatest hits package or really just a cross section of a particular musician’s career, as they never really had “hits” so to speak. I think it was a pretty good idea as someone that was interested could hear a broad discography and get an idea of what they were like, and possible pursue other titles that they’d put out.
I already own several albums by Abercrombie, but they were all on vinyl, so I picked this up on CD. The Abercrombie Works covers seven albums, all very good: Timeless, Characters, Arcade, Five Years Later, Gateway 2, Night, and Jack DeJohnette’s New Directions.
John Abercrombie is a jazz guitarist with incredible range and technique whether playing on his own albums or as a sideman on other musician’s albums. Works opens with a fusion number called “Red and Orange” off the Timeless album. He and Jan Hammer, a keyboard/synthesist, trade off licks with each other playing with fire and grace.
Abercombie is able to play mellow acoustic and electric songs too like on his solo album Characters to quartet jazz sets like on Jack DeJohnette’s album New Directions or like on his trio albums Gateway 1and 2, duets, and on and on. He is able to play jazz, rock, fusion and his playing can be bold, deft, evocative, fragile, and others beyond description. His songs and albums are full of complex interplay and he is a true virtuoso. If you do not have any of his albums, Works is a good place to start. After that I would recommend Timeless, and after that let you conscience and good taste be your guide.