John Abercrombie/Peter Erskine/Bob Mintzer/John Patitucci: The Hudson Project

This was just another stop on a performance/clinic tour on behalf of the D’Addario Company. Luckily, Concord Records had the foresight to bring in a 48-track digital recording unit and capture some brilliant musicmaking.

Although John Abercrombie, Peter Erskine, Bob Mintzer and John Patitucci had never played together before in this configuration, their individual histories overlap over the years. Together they demonstrate consummate chemistry and an unabashed eagerness to stretch in front of their gearhead audience.

Drawing on tunes from their various recordings, these all-stars pieced together a varied set. From Mintzer’s opening “Runferyerlife” (from the Yellowjackets’ 1994 album Run for Your Life) to Erskine’s earthy second-line groover “Cats + Kittens” to Abercrombie’s aptly titled “Little Swing” to Mintzer’s Latin jazz closer “Modern Day Tuba” (from his 1994 big band album Only In New York), they cover a lot of stylistic bases. Probably the most exciting example of interplay comes on a 12-minute rendition of Erskine’s “Bass Desires” (from Marc Johnson’s 1985 album of the same name), which turns Mintzer and Abercrombie loose against Patitucci’s upright pedaling and Erskine’s polyrhythmic pulse and also features a dramatic drum solo midway through the piece. Patitucci demonstrates awesome facility on both electric and upright basses throughout, also contributing his thoughtful compositions “Labor Day” (from 1999’s Now) and “The Well” (from this year’s Imprint). And for something completely different there’s Abercrombie’s country-flavored “That’s for Sure” (from Open Land).

Soulful, sizzling and more opened-up than the original studio versions, these tunes highlight four superb players doing what they do best, and in perfect sync.