Search - John Abercrombie :: Characters

John Abercrombie
Genres: Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: John Abercrombie
Title: Characters
Members Wishing: 5
Total Copies: 0
Label: Ecm Import
Release Date: 1/30/2001
Album Type: Original recording reissued, Import
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Styles: Modern Postbebop, Bebop
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 042282937223

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CD Reviews

Still Abercrombie's finest moment
Phasedin | New Jersey | 09/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This was one of my 1st purchases of an Abercrombie disc, way back in the late 70's originally on vinyl. About the same time I also got "Gateway 2", his trio recording from the same year as this (1977)with Drummer/Pianist Jack Dejohnette and Bassist Dave Holland.
Based on these 2 recordings, I had no idea (until I purchased earlier Abercrombie recordings)of John's more agressive fusion side, as evidenced on such earlier albums as "Timeless" (with Jan Hammer), or even the first Gateway album. Both of those recordings are also considered classics in Abercrombie's catalog. But, for me, Abercrombie's style, vision and concept were all complete and 100% original by 1977 when "Characters" and "Gateway 2" were recorded and the more agressive rock-fusion playing and sound were all gone.
Sadly, this is Abercrombie's only all-solo recording. He has done many duo recordings over the years (with guitarist Ralph Towner, Drummer George Marsh, pianist Richie Beirach), but, maybe Abercrombie himself realized that he couldn't top this one, I don't know. But I still wish he'd try.
This one features allot of Abercrombie's acoustic guitar playing, probably much more than any of his other recordings, and he does a great job with it. Also along is his 4-string electric mandolin-guitar, which he primarily uses as a lead/melody voice, another instrument that at this time pretty much defined his sound, but now Abercrombie seems to have abandoned in recent years. Too bad. OF course his electric guitar is here as well, but used much more sparingly than one would expect from a John Abercrombie recording.
Not that this is a problem for me, this is one of the few recordings I have ever purchased that I can level no critisicm at, none. I have been listening now to this for almost 25 years. The album is a mixture of beautiful, reflective, open "ballads" (for lack of a better term), with more expansive pieces, like the 10 1/2 minute opener "Parable" (which starts with a solo electric mandolin part and then just builds and builds from there as more and more guitars are added on, just incredible.) , to more "atmospheric" pieces like the eerie "Ghost Dances", and my favorite pieces the etherial, "Evensong", a floating mixture of acoustic guitars and slow volume-pedal electric chords just swelling up from nowhere. I wish this piece went on for another 20 minutes, I never tire of listening to it. And I don't think this piece would come out better even if guitar synthesizers had been used (or even around in 1977).
The more acoustic pieces on this CD seem to be everything that the entire army of Windham Hill guitarists were trying for when that label started up in the early 80's (before being bought-out and turned into just another commercial record label). But we also get those pieces that you would never hear on those early Windham Hill discs (and their many imitators), like "Ghost Dance", "Parable", and "Evensong").
This is perfect music to get lost in (as I have been now for 1/4 century!). And is certainly one of the most important recordings in the large catalog of guitar music (not just "Jazz"). A real original recording, and a high point not only in Abercrombie's recorded output and career, but in the last 25 years of recorded music in general .
Even if you are not a big fan of solo guitar recordings, this can be appreciated by anyone who truly loves creative music to get "lost in", that can be played anywhere (in the car, the office, at home), and is rewarded by close listening. Truly a 45 minute masterpiece. Warning: when it's done playing though you may be hard-pressed to find another recording to match up with this one!!!!"
Stephen Silberman | SF, CA USA | 02/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"After what seems like dozens of appearances on records by guitarist John Abercrombie, this one still seems to exist in a space of its own. A solo album, with John playing acoustic and electric guitars, and electric mandolin, it's a very meditative session -- almost brooding. The guitar tones are exquisite, with what sounds like five or six guitars overdubbed at times, but without the hokey, crowded effect of those regrettable "conversations" records by the otherwise peerless Bill Evans. On the haunting last track, "Evensong," he uses sustain to create an effect almost like a baroque organ. Frisell fans should check this out.Abercrombie's melodic imagination was at its peak during this era, and melodies like "Backward Glance" and "Telegram" are suffused with a wise, poignant reflectivity. The self-accompaniment is astounding, especially the subtlety of Abercrombie's time-keeping, with lines slowing down or hastening in rhythms as natural as breathing.It's a virtuoso performance that keeps emotion in the forefront; excellent music for a rainy morning. Abercrombie was as good as this on several other albums, but he may have never tried as hard as this. It must have taken a lot out of him!"
Sunlight on the big-sea-water
J. Rich | 12/10/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"this is an album which has defined for me the beauty of great waters,
it shimmers, glistens, refracts. as previous reviews have noted, the opening piece is a masterwork. making sense of repetitive phrases and layering upon in a way that Bach would appreciate were he to hear this wonderful, beautiful album. every line is lovely here.
highly recommended."