John Abercrombie: Timeless




John Abercrombie (guitar)


Timeless (ECM 1047 829 114-2)

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John Abercrombie (guitar), Jan Hammer (keyboards), Jack DeJohnette (drums).

Composed by John Abercrombie


Recorded: New York, June 1974


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

Guitarist John Abercrombie, keyboardist Jan Hammer and drummer Jack DeJohnette made for an extremely pleasing fusion trio. Outside a small cadre of true fans, however, Abercrombie's Timeless remains rather unknown. That is not to say it has been totally neglected. It was favorably reviewed at the time and today is listed by some knowing jazz-rock critics as a truly important fusion performance. Still, I would argue it has been relatively overlooked.

The title cut was the album's last song. The beginning of the tune sounds like a cross between Indian Classical music and the opening moments of "In a Silent Way" from Miles Davis's album of the same name. Jan Hammer displays his own Indian music influences by producing a low-end drone that serves as a bed for the song's introductory section. In some ways this introduction acts as an Indian Classical alap. An alap is a long introductory and usually slow passage in Northern Indian Classical music that prepares you for what is to follow. The musicians are empathetic to the nth degree. They respect space, time and mood. The Indian elements eventually fall to the wayside as a spatial vibe continues the allusion to "In a Silent Way." Abercrombie tosses in some blues licks for good measure. Hammer increases the tension slightly with a Moog exploration. But the vibe remains deep and calm. This is slow meditative fusion that reaches the mind's inner recesses. This tune was a good way to end an exciting album and would be a good way to end your frenetic day.

This trio would have made a fine touring band. Strangely Hammer and Abercrombie have never performed together live. I say "strangely" because the two were roommates in their early days in Boston.

Reviewer: Walter Kolosky

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