John Abercrombie: Red and Orange


Red and Orange


John Abercrombie (guitar)


Timeless (ECM 1047)

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John Abercrombie (guitar), Jan Hammer (organ, synthesizer, piano), Jack DeJohnette (drums).

Composed by Jan Hammer


Recorded: New York, June 1974


Rating: 97/100 (learn more)

Back when top young musicians embraced the jazz fusion concept, three great practitioners of their respective instruments came together to produce a seminal album that abruptly entered the genre. For some, who find this foray into fusion "corrupting," this was one of those times when no amount of musicianship or creativity would be enough to allay the criticism. This was just another side road cluttered by electronica and gimmickry that blurred the true path of acoustic jazz's artistry. But for musicians and their fans growing up in the shadows of Parker, Rollins, Coltrane et al. and wanting to blaze our own paths, this was at once a statement of independence and vision.

In this 1974 effort, guitar virtuoso John Abercrombie skillfully weaves a tapestry of sound that incorporates the talents of equally artistic impressionists Jan Hammer on keyboards and Jack DeJohnette on drums. Sharing a CD with some very un-fusion-like but poignant pieces, the testosterone-laden force of Jan Hammer's masterpiece "Red and Orange" provides a powerful contrast. We are given a portal into the inner angst that comes with trying to create something forcefully new and different. If at times it seems like this amphetamine-driven music is overpowering, that is because it has successfully channeled all the bursting energy, creativity and tortured virtuosity that these brilliant musicians could muster. DeJohnette's driving skin and cymbal work on "Red and Orange" has to be a tour de force of drumming's physicality and musicality. Abercrombie's probing guitar work is perfectly prodded to new heights by a relentless hammer Jan Hammer, that is. The most underrated of his fusion-era keyboard contemporaries (Zawinul, Corea and Hancock), Hammer is stunning for his amazing harmonic dexterity, subtly and sonorous use of all the sounds that keyboards can yield. For those of us who grew up in this volatile era, this is music that will speak to us forever.

Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello

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  • 1 robert m // Feb 27, 2008 at 10:39 PM
    I remember this album!! ..the title track truly Is!! ...peace.