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John Abercrombie Quartet

Abercrombie describes himself as “a late bloomer” vis-à-vis “Kind of Blue”: “It was released in ’59 but I didn’t hear it until 1962, when I was a student in Boston. I was completely captured by Miles’s playing on that album, the simplicity and beauty of it. Of course, the album is meanwhile so well-known that certain tunes have been practically worn out with repetition. But I thought it was still possible to play something fresh on the chord progressions of ‘Flamenco Sketches’ and create our own melodies.” 

Coltrane’s “Crescent”, was also the subject of intense scrutiny in Abercrombie’s Boston years. “I had loved the way Coltrane played ballads, but ‘Crescent’ seemed to be a centrepiece for the new music he was working on: the new tunes, with the long rubato intros, of which ‘Wise One’ was a great example. Music of real beauty.”

Abercrombie also adds compositions of his own to the programme. “Easy Reader”, an amiable Abercrombie waltz, makes a nod to Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda’s “Easy Rider”, another iconic production of 60s vintage. This like “Nick of Time” with its oblique melody, is integrated within the context of an album that looks back with admiration – and a measure of nostalgia – for an era when jazz was in the throes of great changes. “A celebration”, John says, “of an era when the musicians were stretching the forms”.

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