Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

John Abercrombie

John Abercrombie is both a major influence on other guitarists and a completely unclassifiable stylist with a versatile sound and conception of his own. Born in Port Chester, New York in 1944, he grew up in Connecticut. Abercrombie began playing guitar when he was 14 and after high school he attended Berklee. His first major musical job was touring with organist Johnny Hammond Smith and he also worked and recorded with the Brecker Brothers as part of the group Dreams. Graduating from Berklee in 1969, Abercrombie moved to New York where he worked regularly as a session musician, performing with Chico Hamilton and recording with such notables as Gil Evans and Gato Barbieri. As a member of Billy Cobham’s group, he became known in the jazz and fusion worlds. But John Abercrombie’s real breakthrough was when he recorded Timeless for ECM with Jan Hammer and Jack DeJohnette. It began his association with the ECM label which resulted in other recordings by the group, sets by the guitarist’s later bands and work with other artists including DeJohnette and Ralph Towner. Abercrombie, who began using the guitar synthesizer in 1988, had a trio with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Peter Erskine and more recently has utilized such players as organist Dan Wall, violinist Mark Feldman and drummers Adam Nussbaum and Joey Baron. He has recorded as a sideman with Dave Liebman, Enrico Rava, Collin Walcott, Michel Urbaniak, Charles Earland, McCoy Tyner, Kenny Wheeler, Bobby Hutcherson, Jan Garbarek, Andy LaVerne, Richie Beirach, Bob Mintzer, Joe Lovano, Bob Brookmeyer, Jeff Palmer, Tom Harrell, Lonnie Smith, Lee Konitz and Charles Lloyd. Whether performing originals or standards, with an organ group or with a pianoless trio, John Abercrombie always sounds like himself.