Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Cat N Mouse
Folks fond of pointing out the chamber-jazz tendencies of ECM recordings could have a field day with this disc. The sympathetic blend of legato guitar, violin, and acoustic bass (with drums) sometimes lends the delicacy o... more »
Folks fond of pointing out the chamber-jazz tendencies of ECM recordings could have a field day with this disc. The sympathetic blend of legato guitar, violin, and acoustic bass (with drums) sometimes lends the delicacy of a string ensemble to the proceedings, and the group interaction is as telepathic as any long-standing classical quartet. But those aforementioned folks would be ignoring the relentless swing of Abercrombie's playing, the subtle playfulness of Joey Baron's drumming, and the edginess of the largely free improvisation ("Third Stream Samba" and "Show of Hands" were originally titled "Free Improvisation I and II"). For those put off by thoughts of free jazz, be assured that Abercrombie & Co. (including bassist Marc Johnson) come out of a school that allows free playing to be dynamic, rooted, interactive, and often even beautiful. The "anything goes" '70s that spawned this style gave us guitarists like Abercrombie and his contemporaries Frisell, Scofield, and Metheny. Like them, he imbues his structured tunes with freedom and his free tunes with structure, and we are all the beneficiaries. --Michael Ross
An instant classic
Jan P. Dennis | Monument, CO USA | 02/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Isn't it great when jazz masters find the exact right context for their prodigious playing, as these four do on Cat 'N' Mouse? Each player, leader Abercrombie on guitar, Mark Feldman on violin, Marc Johnson on bass, and Joey Barron on drums, plays with quiet authority; there's no grandstanding here (well, maybe Mark Feldman now and then, but it's so wonderful you end up not caring), just fulgent playing of the highest order. The vibe reminds me a lot of what Charles Lloyd created circa Voices in the Night: at once relaxed and intense; not surprising, since Abercrombie played on that disc, and since they're both ECM sessions.Mark Feldman's the big revelation here. Achieving that same mysterious presence and ravishing tone that made Soldiers of Fortune by Santi Debriano and Billy Hart's two Arabesque discs, Amethyst and Oceans of Time, so great, he is both fiercer and more controled than I've ever heard him. He and Abercrombie frequently move deftly from flowing unison lines to gorgeous harmony with the flick of a wrist. His playing on "Convolution" is certainly the most consistently spectacular I've ever heard from a jazz violinist. And his double-stop-filled solo on "Third Stream Samba" sings with a strange wild glory. But he goes completely over the top with an entirely apposite yet absolutely show-stopping solo on "Stop and Go." He's able to seemlessly combine huge chops and killer classical technique with deep swing, something no other player past or present has done so masterfully.Joey Barron's also in top form; check out his outro (and the vibe he establishes) on "Convolutions," as well as his mind-blowing short solo at the end of "On the Loose." A very subtle player, he can wail on his kit with spectular results when called for. (It's easy to see where Billy Kilson got a lot of his approach.) And Marc Johnson's always been a favorite of mine, ever since his stint as the final bassist in the Bill Evans Trio (what a gig!). His loping lines and great woody tone add a richness and grandeur to whatever session he's playing on. It's a pure pleasure to encounter such intelligence and grace in a bass solo as one hears on "Soundtrack."This strikes me as the finest playing by Abercrombie on disc. Often sounding like a more legato John Scofield, he rips off daring figures, tasty chord voicings, and some very tricky rhythmic passages as if he's tossing peanuts on the grandstand floor of a rugby match, most fully on display throughout "On the Loose" and "Stop and Go." I love the way he subtly bends strings and slightly changes timbre on the fleetest runs. And when he finally cuts loose on "Show of Hands," sounding something like what Jim Pepper went for on "Custer Gets It" but much more slickly pulled off, he shows he's a player of huge technique and boundless imagination.Cat 'N' Mouse, indeed. The hide 'n' seek vibe--each player smoothly oscillating between chaser and chasee--makes for an unusual and endlessly intriguing session.This one seems to have slipped between the cracks a little. Now's the time to do your small part to rectify that."
Randy Blythe | Birmingham, Alabama USA | 03/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While Cat N Mouse fits very well into the ECM chamber-jazz niche, there is occasional dynamism, especially from Baron and Johnson, enough to pique the interest of the casual listener. Overall, the aim seems to be to keep things quiet in order to explore the subtle interplay among Feldman, Johnson, and Abercrombie. Meanwhile, Baron is very adept at making tasteful contributions to the mix. I especially like his inventive & swinging cymbal and brush work on the opening cut. There is enough of both "free" and "structured" play to satisfy the fan of both, but ECM is ECM, and if you're not a fan of the label's particular brand of jazz, this one probably isn't for you."
Rainy night music
J. Holmes | yokohama, japan | 08/12/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"john abercrombie and company unveil a subtle and exciting musical journey on this 2002 disc. the mood is established on the opening track "A Nice Idea" and evolves quickly into the outstanding "Convolution." mark feldman's violin floats in and around john's starry-eyed guitar passages and the rhythm section provides splashes of dark blue colours, allowing plenty of room for joey baron's expressive drumming. there are a few glorious moments of free musical release; but overall things are kept at a very controlled pace. overall, there seems to be an atmosphere of darkness incorporated with the music on this disc, but plenty of lighter notes escape from the corners and create a whimsical feeling that keeps you listening again and again. packaged nicely (as most ECM releases are) with lots of black and white photos of the performing musicians."