Fusiony Free Bop
G B | Connecticut | 03/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Gateway really is an ECM touchstone - it comes from a time when the label produced dozens of albums that pushed the jazz envelope. In this case, you get a mix of guitar fusion, post bop, and free jazz.
The most obvious parallel is John Abercrombie's classic album Timeless, recorded the previous year, with Dave Holland replacing Jan Hammer. But Holland was a free jazzer at this time, and his presence pulls the group in different directions. Though the influences of Hendrix and McLaughlin loom large, there's a certain looseness and jazziness that was never present on the Mahavishnu Orchestra albums.
"Backwoods Song" is the obvious highlight here - a great tune and loping groove that seems like it could go on for half an hour at least. "Unshielded Desire" is a scorching duet between Abercrombie and DeJohnette, echoing Elvin and Trane on "Vigil" or "Impressions". And "Sorcery" - I guess you could call this a rock tune, except there is an avant-garde edge here that probably would scare most guitar fusion fans senseless.
The rest of the album has more subtle charms, the kind that I missed when I first picked it up as a McLaughlin/Mahavishnu fan. "May Dance" is a great freebop performance; "Waiting" is a solo feature for Dave Holland, a perfect showcase for his great sound; and "Jamala" is a short but beautiful enigma.
One of my favorites from this period."
Good But Not A 5 Star Performance
firstname.lastname@example.org | WI, United States | 01/27/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I disagree with the other three reviews. I don't find this CD to be worthy of 5 stars. Don't get me wrong. I love this group. But this is not their best album.
There's some good stuff here but I am not a big fan of Abercrombie's hard jazz fusion. "Sorcery I" is an example of the hard fusion that I don't like. This is just my personal musical bias.
Some of the very best stuff this group has done can be found on Collin Wallcott's, "Cloud Dance". Another very interesting album is the duo John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner on "Saragasso Sea".
I am not panning this album. It's good but not as great as this group is capable of.
Haugwitz Reventlow | Hawai'i | 06/21/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some very imaginative and highly intuitive ensemble playing displays each player's unique and recognizable sound. Jack DeJohnette's drumming is exciting, melodic and supportive. This record would be worth the price for him alone. His playing is orchestral and as rich as any drummer's playing could be. John Abercrombie has been a favorite of mine for 35 years, and I like his playing here as much or more than any he's done. No electric guitarist should miss this record. Dave Holland is magnificent throughout, both as an improviser and a composer. His tone, facility and beauty/clarity of ideas are all superb. Whether or not this is jazz or fusion or free or any other label seems unimportant. It is just great music, full of surprises, dynamics and fresh ideas.
Now if only ECM would rerelease all of the Directions albums..."