The Third Quartet (ECM/Universal)
John Abercrombie

By Martin Kasdan Jr.

In the September 2007 issue of Louisville Music News I commended bassist Mark Egan's As We Speak, which featured drummer Danny Gottlieb and guitarist John Abercrombie. In the January 2008 issue, I reviewed pianist Mark Soskin's One Hopeful Day, on which Abercrombie made a guest appearance. Thus, Abercrombie's the Third Quartet (ECM 1993/Universal B0008584) is overdue for a review, having been released in April of 2007. As suggested by the title, this CD is the third recording by Abercrombie's working group, with violinist Mark Feldman, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron. Abercrombie's trademark controlled distortion is in plentiful supply, such as on "Bred," but he also breaks out his acoustic guitar on occasion. Fans of his Gateway trio work will hear some similarities, as on the Gateway-meets-Mahavishnu opener "Banshee." Johnson's former employer, Bill Evans, is honored in the group's appropriately quiet and introspective version of Evans' "Epilogue." Perhaps the other end of the modern jazz spectrum is represented in the only other non-Abercrombie tune here, Ornette Coleman's "Round Trip." The interplay among the musicians on Abercrombie's tribute to master drummer Elvin Jones, on the simply titled "Elvin," is superb. In short, Abercrombie continues to stay fresh and innovative after more than 30 years of recording and performing.