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John Abercrombie
John Abercrombie


Conviced that "whoever invented the electric guitar was a Hammond player or vice versa, the instruments just sound so good together", Abercrombie first tested the sonic blend in the mid-60s. (See Johns Brian Moore Signature Model here: While still a student at the Berklee School, he began playing standards, seven nights a week, with the Johnny "Hammond" Smith organ trio at Boston's Big M Club. A little later, live exposure to the Tony Williams' Lifetime band, with the organ genius Larry Young, overwhelmed him - and was a direct influence on the instrumentation and intensities of his ECM leader debut Timeless, featuring Jan Hammer, in 1974. The association with Hammer was re-tested on Night a decade later. In the early 1980s, Abercrombie also took a sideman's role on (non-ECM) sessions with improvising organists Jeff Palmer and Lonnie Smith, which impressed upon him the need to have an organ band of his own. He had begun to recognize that "the great common denominator in my life is the organ. Aside from Jim Hall and Bill Evans, whose music is very lyrical, the music that always attracted me was organ trio music. Organ, guitar, drums. Hard driving music".

John Abercrombie's "organ trio", now on its third album for ECM, is regarded by its leader as the optimum vehicle for addressing all of his history, from the "roots" onwards. As Abercrombie pointed out to journalist Frank John-Hadley, there are many listeners unaware that he "grew up playing 'Green Dolphin Street' with an organ trio. That's one of the main reasons why I keep coming back to the traditional format". John's CD, Tactics, captures the organ trio in the New York club Visiones last summer. This recording is the first live Abercrombie album on ECM in almost a decade. Alongside new compositions by Abercrombie, Nussbaum and Wall (the latter's "Bo Diddy" being a particularly ingenious cross-referencing of jazz harmonies and primal rock beats), and jazz standards ("You And The Night And The Music" and "Long Ago And Far Away"), the trio takes a fresh approach to "Dear Rain", an enduring ballad by the leader that surfaced first on 1979's Abercrombie Quartet album and again on While We're Young.

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