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39 Steps
Format: Audio CDChange
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 26 September 2013
This is an immediately engrossing listen. There's a lot of beauty, delicate interplay and fascination in this music. There is no such thing as an 'average' ECM record but by their exacting standards this is an excellent album. Reached for the repeat button as soon as it had finished. Each musician contributes so much experience and empathy: it's an enriching experience. Abercrombie is one of the very best guitarists now playing - nothing cliched or inauthentic about his work ever.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2014
Rightly or wrongly I've always thought you could glean a lot about John Abercrombie's guitar playing from the company he's kept on record. For example his sympathy for and empathy with Kenny Wheeler's music is notable, while the trio he was in with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette back in the 1970s was for me always one of the most persuasive fusion acts. He perhaps owes something more to Jim Hall these days, but he's been his own man for years now, which means he's at a point where the slightest aural distraction risks missing something of his subtlety.

This quartet is I would argue one of the best bands he's led although that's not to say that the competition isn't stiff. This much is apparent through the deep listening going on in the group's rendition of "Melancholy Baby" the only non-group original on the album. The melody is only obliquely referenced by everyone apart from Abercrombie himself, but he's soon in a realm from which it seems the quartet might never return, at least coherently.

There's beauty here too, and even in the deepest passages of music, as per "Bacharach" where Abercrombie is at his lyrical best and bass player Drew Gress proves why he's such a frequent visitor to recording studios. Marc Copland is one of those pianists who's refined or at least deeply into refining his vocabulary to the point where he knows exactly what he wants to convey and doesn't waste notes in doing so.

Given the low key nature of this album, and indeed the inadequacy of such a term considering the subtleties of the music, drummer Joey Baron isn't so much a model of restraint as he is a master of colour and shading, and applying it just where it's needed, as he shows on Copland's darkly expansive "Spellbound" a title upon which it's apt to end this review as music as quietly compelling as this doesn't come along too often.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I say old guys because that's what I am and have listened to John Abercrombie from the 70's. This quartet is smooth, tight and accomplished. It's not like the early material, being very laid back at times and if you like things a bit more experimental then maybe this won't do it for you. Production is second to none - a feature of ECM records. I really like it, but perhaps like them I've mellowed somewhat!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 February 2014
...on this album. I have been a fan of Johns for as long as I can remember. His cool, languid style is always a pleasure to listen to. Here he presents a typical set of songs including a reworked version of 'Ralph's Piano Waltz' which first appeared on the brilliant 'Timeless' album with Jan Hammer and Jack DeJohnette.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 September 2014
Not his best, but enjoyable.
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