Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Abercrombie, John

Abercrombie, John , guitar; b. Port Chester, NY, 16 December, 1944. His mother Elizabeth (1911-2002) was born in Scotland. His father, also John Abercrombie (1905-1995), was also born in Scotland and raised in Essex, England. John Abercrombie grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, and began playing the guitar at the age of fourteen. After high school he attended Berklee College of Music, and gigged, often in organ trios, at local clubs and bars. An offer to tour with organist Johnny Hammond led to his going on the road for weeks at a time, playing such spots as Count Basie's Lounge and the Club Baron, both in Harlem.

During that same period, Abercrombie met the Brecker Brothers who were in the process of forming the jazz-rock band Dreams. They invited Abercrombie to play with them, and he was heard on Dreams' debut album on Columbia. In 1969, following graduation from Berklee, he moved to New York City, where he soon began to get work recording with Gil Evans, Gato Barbieri, Barry Miles and many other artists, and became a regular with Chico Hamilton's group. But until Billy Cobham asked him to join his band in February 1974, he was known among musicians as a fine player who wasn't getting due recognition or financial success. The Cobham band, which also featured the Brecker Brothers, introduced him to the general public, and performed in large concert halls and arenas, on bills with such top rock attractions as the Doobie Brothers.

While at the Montreux Festival that summer, he was invited to record as a leader for ECM, the first of a long string of releases for that label, often with Jack DeJohnette, for whom he has also appeared as a sideperson. In 1979, Abercrombie formed his own quartet, which included pianist Richie Beirach, bassist George Mraz and drummer Peter Donald. In the late 1980s he toured with Mark Johnson and Peter Erskine for about four years. On Current Events, released in 1988, John used guitar synthesizer for the first time on record.  Since 1992 he was has often worked with organist Dan Wall and drummer Adam Nussbaum. He and his wife Lisa were married around 1981 and moved in the early 2000s to the southern border of Putnam County, NY.

Recordings:
Timeless (1974); Works (1974); Gateway w/ Jack DeJohnette & Dave Holland (1975); Gateway 2 (1977); Characters (1977); Arcade (1978); Straight Flight (1979);  Abercrombie Quartet [live] (1979); M (1980); Solar w/ John Scofield (1982); Night (1984 ) Current Events (1985); Getting There (1987); John Abercrombie Marc Johnson & Peter... [live] (1988); Animato (1989); Upon a Time an Album of Duets New (1989); While We're Young (1992); John Abercrombie/Dan Wall/Adam Nussbaum (1992); November (1992); Speak of the Devil (1993); Nosmo King (1994); Gateway: Homecoming (1994); In the Moment (Gateway) (1994); Tactics [live] (1996); Open Land (1999); The Hudson Project w/ Peter Erskine, John Pattatucci & Bob Mintzer (2000).
As sideperson:
Johnny "Hammond" Smith: Nasty (1968); Friends w/Marc Cohen (1971);Oblivion (1971);Gato Barbieri: Gato, Under Fire (1971); Barry Miles: White Heat (1971); Dave Liebman: Lookout Farm (1973); Enrico Rava: Quotation Marks (1973); Billy Cobham: Shabazz  (1974); Horace Arnold: Tales of the Exonerated Flea (1974); Billy Cobham: Crosswinds, Total Eclipse (1974); Jack DeJohnette: Sorcery (1974); Gil Evans: Gil Evans' Orchestra Plays the... (1974); Dave Liebman: Drum Ode (1974); Clive Stevens: Atmospheres, Voyage to Uranus (1974); Jack DeJohnette: Cosmic Chicken, Works (1975); Charles Earland: Odyssey (1975); David Liebman: Sweet Hands (1975); Enrico Rava: Pilgrim and the Stars (1975); Michal Urbaniak: Fusion III (1975); Collin Walcott: Cloud Dance, Works (1975); Enrico Rava: Pilgrim and the Stars (1976); Ralph Towner: Sargasso Sea (1976); Jack DeJohnette: Directions, Pictures, Untitled (1976); Barre Phillips: Mountainscapes (1976); Enrico Rava: Plot (1976); Ralph Towner: Sargasso Sea (1976); Jack DeJohnette: New Rags (1977); Johnny "Hammond" Smith :Storm Warning (1977); Collin Walcott with Don...: Grazing Dreams (1977); Jack DeJohnette: New Directions (1978); Clint Houston: Watership Down (1978); Terry Plumeri: Ongoing (1978); Urszula Dudziak: Future Talk (1979); Jack DeJohnette: New Directions in Europe (1979); Bobby Hutcherson: Un Poco Loco (1979); George Mraz With John...: Direct Flight (1979); Mike Nock: Climbing (1979); McCoy Tyner: Four Times Four (1980); Ralph Towner: Five Years Later (1981); George Marsh: Drum Strum 1750 (1982); Andy LaVerne: Liquid Silver (1984); Don Thompson Quartet: Beautiful Friendship (1984); Don Tompson: Witchcraft (1986); Peter Erskine: Transition (1986); Richie Beirach with John...: Emerald City (1987), Tom Harrell: Visions (1987); Jeff Palmer/David Liebman...: Abracadabra (1987); Michel Petrucciani: Michel Plays Petrucciani (1987); Paul Bley: Live at Sweet Basil (1988); Peter Erskine: Motion Poet (1988), Henry Kaiser: Re-Marrying for Money (1988); Henri Texier: Colonel Skopje (1989); Andy LaVerne & John... : Natural Living (1989); John D'earth: One Bright Glance (1989); Danny Gottlieb: Whirlwind (1989); Niels Lan Doky: Friendship (1990); Danny Gottlieb: Brooklyn Blues (1990); Jim Hall & Friends: Live at Town Hall Vol. 2 (1990); Joe Lovano: Landmarks (1990); Charles Mingus: Epitaph (1990); Bob Mintzer: Hymn (1990); Bob Brookmeyer: Electricity (1991); Harvie Swartz: Arrival (1991); Gust William Tsilis...: Heritage (1991); Niels Lan Doky: The Toronto Concert [live] (1992); Dreams: Dreams (1992); Bruce Gertz: Third Eye (1992); Jeff Palmer: Ease on (1992); Johnny "Hammond" Smith: Forever Taurus (1992); Hans Ulrik: Day After Day (1992); Vassar Clements: Once in a While (1993); Tim Hagans: No Words (1993); Lonnie Smith/John... : Afro Blue (1993); Bruce Ditmas: What If (1994); Bruce Gertz Quintet: Discovery Zone (1994); Jeff Palmer: Shades of the Pine, Island Universe (1994); Lonnie Smith: Foxy Lady: A Tribute to Hendrix (1994); Andy Laverne:Now It Can Be Played, Farewell (1995); Les Arbuckle: Bush Crew (1995); Base Line: Why Really (1995); Bruce Gertz: Blueprint (1995); Tom Harrell: Sail Away [Musidisc] (1995); Jacek Kochan: Grey Angel (1995); Lonnie Smith Trio: Purple Haze: A Tribute to Jimi... (1995); Baseline: Standards (1996); Marc Copland: Second Look (1996); Sigi Finkel: Sweet Sue (1996); Gateway: In the Moment (1996); Andy LaVerne: Where We Were (1996); Little Magic In A Noisy...: Little Magic in a Noisy World (1997); Baseline: Returns (1997); Franco Ambrosetti: Light Breeze (1998); Ethel Ennis: If Women Ruled the World (1998); Mark Soskin: Five Lands (Cinqueterre) (1998); Gato Barbieri: Best of the Early Years (1999); Bruce Gertz: Red Handed (1999); Charles Lloyd: Voice in the Night (1999); Vince Mendoza & London...: Epiphany (1999); Lars Moller Group: Colours (1999); Brooke Sofferman: Modesty's Odyssey (1999); Charles Lloyd: Water Is Wide (2000); Lee Konitz: Sound of Surprise (2000); Rudy Linka: Live It Up (2000); Johnny "Hammond" Smith: Soulful Blues (2000); Ed Byrne: Two Shades of Blue (2001); Billy Cobham: Rudiments: The Billy Cobham... (2001); Chuck Owen: Madcap (2001)

Bibliography:
Adler: John Abercrombie - Timeless, in: Down Beat, 42/11 (1975)
Gudrun Endress: Interview mit John Abercrombie, in: Jazz Podium, 24/4 (Apr.1975)
Chuck Berg: John Abercrombie's Six-String Stylistic Summit, in: Down Beat, 43/4 (26.Feb.1976)
Anon.: John Abercrombie's "Crosswinds" Solo, in: Down Beat Music Handbook, 23 (1978) (transcription)
Bill Henderson: Out of Towner. John Abercrombie, in: Black Music & Jazz Review, 1/7 (Oct.1978)
John Abercrombie: Education in Jazz, in: Down Beat, 46/4 (22.Feb.1979)(promotion for Berklee College)
Tim Schneckloth: John Abercrombie. A Direction of His Own, in: Down Beat, 46/4 (22.Feb.1979)
Leonard Feather: Blindfold Test. John Abercrombie, in: Down Beat, 46/15 (6.Sep.1979)
Fred Goodman: The Unguitarist. John Abercrombie, in: Musician, 9/1986
J. Ferguson: John Abercrombie. Testing the Thresholds of Jazz, in:Guitar Player, 20/11 (1986)
Richard Cook: John Abercrombie - A Timeless American in Europe, in: The Wire, #24 (Feb.1986)
Bill Milkowski: John Abercrombie, in: Down Beat, 53/9 (Sep.1986)
Andreas Ebert: John Abercrombie. Immer wieder eine Herausforderung:Standards spielen, in: Jazz Podium, 37/2 (Feb.1988)
B. Riedinger: John Abercrombie. Guitar with No Bounds, in: Jazz Times, Feb.1988
William Kinnally: John Abercrombie, in: Jazziz, 5/2 (Feb/Mar.1988)
Jim Connolly: John Abercrombie, in: Jazznews, 2/5 (Nov/Dec.1988)
Bill Milkowski: Blindfold Test. John Abercrombie, in: Down Beat, 56/10 (Oct.1989)
Jim Maley: John Abercrombie, in: Cadence, 17/11 (Nov.1991)
Ken Franckling: John Abercrombie. Lowcholesterol Organ Trio, in: Jazz Times, 23/6 (Aug.1993)
Romain Grosman: John Abercrombie. Eviter l'imitation, in: Jazz Hot, #503 (Sep.1993)
Sigi Busch: Jazz Workshop. Miles Davis "All Blues", gespielt von John Abercrombie, analysiert von Bill Dobbins, in: Jazz Podium, 43/3(Mar.1994) (transcription)
Ton Ouwehand: John Abercrombie. 'Liever eenvoudiger muziek dan bebop', in: Jazz Nu, #185 (Jul/Aug.1994)
Gilles Boudry: John Abercrombie. D'un Trio l'Autre, in: Jazz in Time, #55 (Sep.1994)
Frank-John Hadley: John Abercrombie. This Ain't No Chicken Shack, in: Down Beat, 61/11 (Nov.1994)
Chuck Sher (ed.): The New Real Book, Volume 3, Petaluma, CA 1995 [sheet music] (lead sheet of "John's Waltz")
Steve Ramsdell: John Abercrombie. Core, Not Category, in: Jazz Educators Journal, 28/5 (Mar.1996)
Maurizio Franco: John Abercrombie. "La chitarra oggi? Piu creativa del sassofono", in: Musica Jazz, 52/8-9 (Aug/Sep.1996)
Larry Birnbaum: Blindfold Test. John Abercrombie, in: Down Beat, 64/3 (Mar.1997)
Angela Ballhorn: John Abercrombie, in: Jazzthetik, 11/6 (Jun.1997)

Contact information:
www.johnabercrombie.com
Agent:
magi@ix.netcom.com

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