John: Is that a sensible thing to do? Yes!
New………….to reveal the beauties, so numerous and diverse, of John Abercrombie’s compositions when one is a pianist: Is that a sensible thing to do? Yes, it’s a really good idea. Especially if the pianist is a longtime companion of the late guitarist, and no small wonder, he puts his whole heart into it.
In 2003, Marc Copland invited John Abercrombie to “Marc Copland And….” (Hatology). In 2011, they recorded in duo, on “Speak to Me” (Pirouet). Copland also left his delicate imprint on two opuses on ECM, with the guitarist’s last quartet, “39 Steps” and “Up and Coming.” The pianist has included three of those themes–Flip Side, Sunday School, and Vertigo—for this solo piano homage, recorded by that magician of sound, Gerard de Haro. Copland, who is aware of the richness of the discography of this native of Port Chester, NY, looks first at “Timeless,” whose theme he adapts with the necessary reverence and invention; and later he turns his gaze on the no less sublime “Getting There,” re-interpreting Remember Hymn, which surges with an emotion capable of taking one’s breath away, of bringing tears to one’s eyes–what a great and beautiful challenge to interpret as a soliloquy this memorable piece, which was rendered originally by the saxophone of Michael Brecker and the guitar-synthesizer arrangements of Abercombie. Another beautiful idea: to re-interpret two themes recorded by Abercrombie in duo with Ralph Towner, including Isla (“Five Years Later,” ECM, 1982), another high point of this disk. If by any chance you have not yet seen Arno Oehri and Oliver Primus’ outstanding documentary devoted to John Abercrombie, Open Land, do not wait, take advantage of the second confinement to follow in the footsteps of this poet of the six strings, whose legacy is magnified by a pianist possessing a gift, of moving us with albums that are always different and surprising. We would be remiss if we did not also mention the producer of this aptly titled “John,” Philippe Ghielmetti.