Sometime Ago – Cornerstone Records

An appealing release filled with subtle coolness.

Sometime Ago – Cornerstone Records CRST CD 148 58:24****:

(Jim Vivian – bass; John Abercrombie – guitar; Ian Froman – drums; Mike Murley – tenor saxophone)

John Abercrombie was an American guitarist, who in addition to being an influential  jazz figure, might also be considered as a synthesizer in bringing together several musical threads from jazz to folk and rock. Equally at home on both acoustic and electric guitars, he built his reputation in the 70s and 80s, but continued to record and perform until his death from a stroke in August 2017. This session on Canadian Cornerstone Records was recorded  in November 2016, and was officially released in Toronto on May 12, 2018.

Accompanying Abercrombie were a cohort of first rate Canadian musicians lead by bassist Jim Vivian, with Ian Froman on drums and the ever interesting tenor saxophonist Mike Murley on 3 of the 8 tracks. The track list is an eclectic mixture of well known popular and jazz favourites along with original material from both Abercrombie and Vivian. Leading off with Cole Porter’s “Everything I Love” which was first performed in 1941 by Danny Kaye, the opening phrases by Abercrombie foretell that the structure of the compositions will develop towards the evocative and ethereal.

Dave Brubeck wrote “In Your Own Sweet Way” for his wife Iola in 1955 and it was conceived as a ballad. However Abercrombie and company have picked up the tempo and that has not detracted from its intention. Abercrombie’s guitar shows lots of range without sacrificing melodic clarity. Bassist Vivian is given lots of room to roam, with drummer Froman pushing everything along with his inventive drumming.  Although “Nardis” was written by Miles Davis, it was Cannonball Adderley who first recorded the piece for his album Portrait of Cannonball that featured Bill Evans on piano. In fact it was Evans who adopted the number as he frequently used it in many of his trio recordings. The modal structure of the number is perfectly explored by Abercrombie, Vivian and Froman with silvery arrangement full of svelte playing.

The only Abercrombie original composition on this release is entitled “Another Ralph’s” which is of unknown provenance. Saxophonist Mike Murley is featured here to great effect with his usual full bodied attack. However this is not your usual straight ahead number, but rather a tight course that cuts a trench through the composition in a very linear style.

The title track “Sometime Ago”  was written by Sergio Mihanovich, an Argentinian who came to the US and composed this number in 1963.The  tune was first recorded that same year by The Art Farmer Quartet which included the guitarist Jim Hall, who brought the tune to the group. The number has a ballad sensibility, and when combined with a Latin feel, it works particularly well within the Abercrombie trio setting.

This is an appealing release filled with subtle coolness.

TrackList: Everything I Love; In Your Own Sweet Way; Ma Bel; Nardis; Another Ralph’s; Pretty Harbour Bail Skiff; Stellaluna; Sometime Ago

—Pierre Giroux

 

John Abercrombie

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