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Marc Copland/John Abercrombie/Kenny Wheeler: That’s for Sure

The title track typifies the stealth nature of That’s for Sure. It begins with Abercrombie’s guitar out of tempo in a mood of easy E-minor reflection. So that’s how it’s going to be, you think; after all, he and Wheeler are on loan from ECM. Abercrombie becomes increasingly bluesy in the 16-bar piece and initiates a walking tempo. Copland sneaks in with piano-chord enrichment. Wheeler’s trumpet, fat and rich, lays down the melody, which has a kind of wan Appalachian gospel melancholy about it. Over Abercrombie’s modified rhythm guitar, Copland plays a solo laced with whimsy. Wheeler improvises, with a blowsy opening phrase like something Red Allen might have played. On his solo, Wheeler manages to be both old-timey and far out and to remind us that he may be the most underrated jazz-trumpet soloist alive. Abercrombie goes down home on his solo, with intimations of a country dance, perhaps a hoedown. The time is solid, irresistible. In a three-way recapitulation of the theme, the piece ends with a peaceful smile on its face.

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