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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Straight No Chaser is the place for jazz lovers (and those who will soon be jazz lovers) to enjoy podcasts with their favorite music and artists. Winner of the 2017 JazzTimes Readers' Poll for Best Podcast, your host Jeffrey Siegel will take you inside the world of jazz, from the new releases to the best festiva;s to remembrances of jazz legends.

John Abercrombie

Sep 26, 2009

John Abercrombie’s latest quartet recording is fairly typical of the legendary “ECM Records Sound”. What is that? As one article suggests, that sound “creates a sense of space, contemplation and nuance”. It also rarely swings, making it an acquired taste.

That’s what’s good and bad about Wait Till You See Her. The lead performer in the quartet is violinist Mark Feldman, a partner with Abercrombie for over ten years. A one-man string section, Feldman alternately lilts and drives home melodic touches, moving the music into upper octaves as the improvisation of the four members of group takes off for point unknown. 

Joey Baron, a veteran of avant-garde sessions with John Zorn, Dave Douglas and Arthur Blythe, is perfect for this sort of music, and he provides a valuable sense of direction to some of that more wandering tunes. However, he and bassist Thomas Morgan can never seem to bring the tunes into sharp focus. 

Abercrombie, who wrote most of the songs on the album, has to take responsibility for this contemplative, but often unfocused music. A guitarist of his stature and experience should be able to reign in the improvisations to prevent a sense of aimlessness, bringing it closer to a sense of introspective. Occasionally like on "Out of Towner" (click here) his leadership shines through and the results are gentle and shimmering. When he misses,  the quartet is headed for places I’d just as soon not visit.