Redwood Jazz Alliance

John Abercrombie Organ Trio
Thursday, September 20, 8 p.m.| Kate Buchanan Room, HSU

"Abercrombie is the guitarist of his generation who pushes the boundaries of improvised music while still relating, most directly, to the jazz tradition."
—John Kelman, All About Jazz

 "With its dark, mystical edges, organic forms, flights of expressive soloing and cathartic climaxes, Abercrombie’s music really is a more sophisticated and nuanced extension of the heady fusion era when albums were intended to take the listener on an inner journey."
—David French, Jazz Times

(For music and links, scroll to the bottom of this page)

John Abercrombie
Photo: Guy Fonck | All About Jazz

Sometimes the clichéd shoe fits: John Abercrombie is truly one of the legends of jazz guitar.  And while his influences can be hard to pin down—over the years, critics have heard in his playing and composing the lyricism of Bill Evans and the “outness” of Ornette Coleman, along with folk, rock, and Eastern and Western art musics—Abercrombie himself cites past masters of his instrument: Charlie Christian, Jim Hall, Wes Montgomery.

The albums Abercrombie made for ECM in the 1970s and 80s—landmark trio albums with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, duos with acoustic guitarist Ralph Towner, a series of highly-regarded quartet dates—helped define that label’s trademark “sound”: atmospheric, pensive, evocative.  More than thirty years later he’s still an ECM mainstay, with a beautiful new CD featuring tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist Drew Gress, and drummer Joey Baron. 

For this tour, though, Abercrombie returns to the familiar territory of the organ trio, a format he inaugurated in the 1990s with a string of fresh records featuring organist Dan Wall and drummer Adam Nussbaum.  (He and the organ go way back, however: as a student at Berklee College in Boston in the 1960s Abercrombie did a stint in hard-bop organist Johnny “Hammond” Smith’s band.)  Since 2007, the ubiquitous Gary Versace has filled the organ chair, and like the first incarnation, this latest trio, on its way to the 55th annual Monterey Jazz Festival, is by turns deeply introspective and seriously funky.

Versace, who took the “Rising Star Organist” category three consecutive years in the DownBeat Critics’ Poll, has indeed risen to the top of his profession. Since moving to New York a decade ago, he’s become a first-call sideman for dozens of top-tier musicians, holding down regular jobs in drummer Matt Wilson’s “Arts & Crafts” Quartet (coming later this season, on February 22, 2013) and in multiple projects led by drummer-composer John Hollenbeck.  (Versace was also a guest of the RJA in 2010-11, playing piano with Ron Miles and Rudy Royston.)

Aside from his work with Abercrombie, veteran drummer Adam Nussbaum has had long and fruitful collaborations with guitarist John Scofield and saxophonist Dave Liebman, as well as important associations with Gil Evans, Lee Konitz, Steve Swallow, and countless others.

Tickets ($15 General Admission, $10 Students & Seniors) are available here at our website, or at Wildberries, Wildwood Music, People's Records, and The Works.

John Abercrombie will also present an open public workshop on Friday, September 21st at 2:00 p.m. in Room 131 of HSU's Music Building. People of all levels of experience are welcome to attend, and admission is FREE.


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Additional support for this show comes from Lady Anne Victorian Inn, Libation Wine Shop & Wine Bar, Rustic West Trading Company Tomo Japanese Restaurant, and Wildwood Music.

HSU SealFriday's free public workshop is made possible through the generosity of HSU's Office of the President, the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Department of Music.

If you or your business would like to consider sponsoring a Redwood Jazz Alliance event and/or advertising in our concert programs, please e-mail us or visit our Underwriting & Donations page.

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