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May 2002

John Abercrombie
Cat 'n' Mouse
ECM Records

In a bit of a surprise, it wasn't John Abercrombie's long-standing organ trio mates, Dan Wall and Adam Nussbaum, who survived from his previous ECM album, but rather guest violinist Mark Feldman. The guitarist was impressed enough with Feldman's contributions to Open Land that he at first expanded his organ trio to accommodate the violinist, and subsequently built a new group around him. Cat 'n' Mouse (ECM 1770 CD 440 014 001-2; 59:52), which features a rangy, open sound, also includes the considerable talents of bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron.

Abercrombie takes advantage of his band's newfound keyboardless spaciousness. At times, as on "Convolution," the band plays freely; at other times, the band navigates themes and harmonic progressions that surface and sink at will. Feldman, whose playing ranges from intense wails to long, dolorous lines, hasn't really recorded much of significance as a leader. But on Cat 'n' Mouse, he certainly reinforces his own reputation as one of the most creative and expressive sidemen in jazz.

Originally published in May 2002
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