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John Abercrombie - 39 Steps CD (album) cover

39 STEPS

John Abercrombie

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.10 | 2 ratings

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Matti
Prog Reviewer
3 stars First a citation from All Music Guide: "John Abercrombie's tying together of jazz's many threads made him one of the most influential acoustic and electric guitarists of the 1970s and early '80s; his recordings for ECM have helped define that label's progressive chamber jazz reputation. (...) Abercrombie's style draws upon all manner of contemporary improvised music; his style is essentially jazz-based, but he also displays a more-than-passing familiarity with forms that range from folk and rock to Eastern and Western art musics."

That's a good summation and an introduction to Abecrombie's music. On 39 Steps his quartet features pianist Marc Copland who makes his ECM debut. Several track titles come from the classic Alfred Hitchcock suspense films, but the general mood is pretty harmless and harmonic in its tidy impressionism. 'Vertigo' is a low-key and relatively quiet tune; the intimate thoughtfulness is doubtlessly coloured by the listener's memories of the film. 'LST' is happier and brighter but stays quite unspectacular. PAT METHENY sometimes sounds like this, at his most boring. Does 'Bacharach' capture the spirit of that evergreen songwriter maestro? Hard to say, at least it lacks the emotionally strong melodicism of Burt Bacharach. Pretty and enjoyable music it is, like the whole album, but somewhat sleepy.

And so on. This is nice and peaceful chamber jazz to listen to when you're not in need of something more energetic or exciting. But really, if a track refers to a film such as Spellbound, it should have some more edge in it. It's quite hard to tell all the ten tracks from each other. It all stays so spineless and over-careful. The final tune 'Melancholy Baby' has a bit more memorable melodies, and it's the only track not composed by the performers. The playing of the quartet is very democratic, and on some tracks sounding like the final minutes of a long jam session with the attitude "let's not disturb the neighbours... and we're tired ourselves too". This album could function as music to put you into sleep at night, as it contains no notable contrasts or unexpected turns.

Matti | 3/5 |

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