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John Abercrombie Organ Trio, Santiago, 24 September 2009

From: andrew cooke <andrew@...>

Date: Fri, 25 Sep 2009 11:27:45 -0400

OK, so this is a software engineer, educated as a physicist, writing
about music.  You have been warned.

We weren't sure what the name implied - would there be a trio of
organs?  It turned out not - it was a pretty standard trio, but with
the organ taking on the role of bass (more accurately, the organ
pedals - giving a new meaning to walking bass line (I'm so funny)).

I didn't recognise the organ, but it reminded me of the Doors (or
Booker T and the MGs!), and a quick search on the 'net suggests it was
a Hammond (a B3?).  Anyway - it sounded great.

For the first few pieces, I wasn't at all impressed with Abercrombie.
Partly this was because I don't particularly like his sound (which is
kind of treacly thick), partly because I don't really understand what
he's doing (complicated twiddly music), and partly because, I think,
he really didn't seem to be getting into it.  In fact I wondered if he
was in pain - he clearly had difficulty walking, and stood
uncomfortably.  It's possible we were simply too far away (or I am
simply too clueless) to pick up on some more subtle interaction, but
from where we sat (at the back) it looked like he was ignoring
everyone and just playing his own thing.

On the other hand, Gary Versace on Organ and Adam Nussbaum on drums
really shone.  They were pretty tight from the start, obviously
enjoying it (unlike Abercrombie keeping himself very much to himself),
and had a great sound.  Nussbaum was very clean and traditional, if
not exactly subtle - nice emphasis with the rims (even played the
cymbal "side on" for a similar hard sound at one point) and going past
11 when needed.  Complimenting that, the keyboard part of the organ
really cut through, the way Abercrombie's guitar didn't, making this
wonderful noise that connected back to 60s rock...

I'd have been happy with that (no offense to Abercrombie, but I'm not
a great fan anyway), but things got decidedly better around the 3rd or
4th piece, when Abercrombie seemed to wake up and start enjoying
himself.  Ralph's Piano Waltz realy rocked (can a waltz do that?) and
as Abercrombie loosened up everything got nice and tight and really
came together.  The guitar seemed to get less treacly, started cutting
through the noise, and, again, made some great noise.

Not bad at all :o)

Andrew

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