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John Abercrombie Quartet, Birdland, New York

John Abercrombie

The group—Abercrombie, violinist Mark Feldman, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron—took the stage, all dressed in black, and began the first number so quietly and casually it almost seemed as if they were warming up. Abercrombie picked a few notes on the guitar, Feldman answered and then Baron began playing a spare pattern on the ride cymbal.

They had just finished a 10-day European tour to support their latest release, The Third Quartet on ECM. From the very start it was obvious that the band had found new ways to explore the material since it was recorded, and the entire night was a remarkable example of group interaction. The set was composed of endless moments that seemed to come together and then drift away, to divide and shift shape like organisms under a microscope.

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