As part of ECM'0bs Old & New Masters series of box sets, John Abercrombie's The First Quartet collects three albums recorded for the label between 1978 and 1980. Two titles, 1979's Abercrombie Quartet and 1981's M, have been unavailable for decades. By the guitarist's own admission, this band represents the guitarist's first time as a "proper" bandleader. His earlier dates on ECM had been co-led sessions (Timeless, Gateway, Sargasso Sea), a solo album (Characters), and sideman gigs (Jack DeJohnette's New Directions, David Liebman's Lookout Farm, etc.). These three dates also represent an important foundation for Abercrombie as a composer.
This 3-CD set with recordings from 1978 to 1980, issued in ECM s acclaimed Old & New Masters series, returns some historically-important material to the catalog, namely the albums Arcade, Abercrombie Quartet and M. The quartet with Richie Beirach, George Mraz and Peter Donald John Abercrombie s first touring band as a leader was the group in which the guitarist defined some priorities, moving away from a jazz-rock period into a more spacious, impressionistic and original music. Abercrombie and pianist Beirach had a strong musical rapport as improvisers and wrote almost all of the band s book between them. George Mraz and Peter Donald provided imaginative support. For this edition the recordings - made in Oslo and Ludwigsburg and produced by Manfred Eicher were remastered from original analog sources.
Excellent trio date featuring Abercrombie playing with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Peter Erskine. The three take chances, converge, collide, alternate time in the spotlight, and make emphatic, unpredictable music while never staying locked into one groove or style.
After a long hiatus from the record shelves, the turbaned Dr. Lonnie Smith – along with guitarist John Abercrombie and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith – sets his sights upon John Coltrane, turning in five 'Trane tunes plus Mongo Santamaria's "Afro-Blue" and a grooving Smith tribute, "Traces of Trane." The propulsive title track is mostly dominated by Abercrombie, while "Impressions" continues the driving pace as Lonnie sprays Hammond B-3 organ notes all over the place with constant brief call-and-response dialogues with himself.