Friday, January 8, 2010

John Surman, John Abercrombie, Jack DeJohnette, Drew Gress

Brewster's Rooster (ECM) celebrates John Surman's forty-plus years as an influential musician, a soprano-baritonist of distinction and a creative force as a bandleader-conceptualist. He is joined by two who have collaborated with him and with themselves in some classic recordings, namely, Abercrombie and DeJohnette. And bassist Drew Gress of course has been a player of excellence for a long time.

This is the straightforwardly swinging date that one might expect of these folks. It has some ECM-type mellowness, a little bit of fire here and there, and a standard or two to show the breadth of their abilities.

Now if we were still bombarded by ECM releases in the States like we used to be, I might find myself a little jaded with it all. But that is not the case. In the hands of these masters, the well-worn spacious cosmic element sounds ever renewed and given their ability to do something their own with a bountiful harvest of roots, who would complain? Sure these guys don't show all the fire here that they have been known to give birth to, especially in earlier recordings. But perhaps that's not what they intend to be about right now. As it is everybody is in synch and playing quite well. The material is interesting and the sound is of the impeccable ECM variety.

If you are a fan of these players, you will find this a good addition to your collection. If you are coming on them for the first time this is an accessible way to hear them. Sure, they've made some better albums in the past. But they are still vibrant improvisers and this one is definitely worthwhile.

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