JOHN ABERCROMBIE — Timeless (review)

JOHN ABERCROMBIE — Timeless album cover Album · 1975 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Abraxas
Check the line-up. What did you imagine? Wrong. Jan Hammer is mainly playing the organ throughout, so his Mahavishnu synth lines are almost inexistent. Ironically, John Abercrombie is the one that reminds us of Mahavishnu, with the often fast guitar licks. But mind you, this is not high fuelled jazz rock.

One thing you probably didn't notice was that this album belongs to the ECM label. And yes, this label shows its characteristic mellow, moody and cold sound, already by 1974. Its ECM, I think, that restrains John and the rest from doing anything really rock-ish. And that's a good thing. The remaining member of the trio being the widely known drummer, Jack DeJohnette.

The six compositions share the label's dark and mysterious mood, but some with more powder than others. Both 'Red and Orange' and 'Lungs' will make you doubt if what I'm saying is actually true, since these two are very force-driven with an exhilarating band, but still these have some elements that are not usually heard on say Mahavishnu Orchestra or Return to Forever.

'Love Song' and 'Remembering' however, are acoustic, piano and guitar only. These remind me a bit of Metheny's mellow acoustic affairs, a man well associated with ECM, or also Bill Connors' acoustic albums, also an associate from the label.

The title track couldn't be more ECM-ish. Twelve minutes of slow-moving music that has very subtle elements. Probably Jan Hammer's greatest intervention with the Moog in his entire career, creating channels of mystery and psychedelicness. One will either dismiss this for its lack of memorable melodies, or praise it for its unique atmosphere and progression.

Timeless isn't exactly "timeless", but it's unmistakably a noteworthy album in any wide jazz collection, being an interesting and smart link between post-bop, fusion and ECM jazz. Recommended with the guarantee of discovering something pretty fresh, though not exactly stunning.
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