|The beauty of working with the same people long-term is it's possible to evolve a cohesive ensemble sound, while still retaining its singular group voice. Guitarist John Abercrombie has been working with violinist Mark Feldman since Open Land (ECM, 1999), but it was when he recruited bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron for Cat 'n' Mouse (ECM, 2002), that his idea of a string-centric, chamber jazz quartet came into being. On subsequent releases, most recently The Third Quartet (ECM, 2007), the quartet became increasingly adept at realizing Abercrombie's forward-thinking traditionalism, where freedom is couched in spare writing, and remarkable in-the-moment spontaneous creation leaves a profound impression of preconceived form from the ether.
It's encouraging to find Wait Till You See Her continuing Abercrombie's string-driven quartet although, with young up-and-comer Thomas Morgan replacing Johnson, the group's overall concept remains intact but understandably assumes a slightly different complexion—the result of Morgan's sparer, slightly more muscular Scott LaFaro-like flexibility. The LaFaro reference is key because, as much as Abercrombie has always been influenced by the impressionistic conversational approach of Bill Evans' trio aesthetic (with whom LaFaro played until his untimely death in 1961), Wait Till You See Her's first impression is, despite its unequivocally modernistic bent, one of channeling the late pianist's spirit.
Evans' spirit, though, and not his letter, with the possible exception of the group's nuanced reading of Richard Rodgers' often-recorded title track, where Baron eschews direct pulse for something more implicit, more atmospheric. Wait Till You See Her is largely even darker, more brooding and introspective than the previous quartet discs, with "Trio," its hardest-swinging track. As the title suggests, it's a three-piece, with Feldman sitting out and leaving Abercrombie's warm, reverb-drenched melodism, supported with firm strength by Morgan and Baron, the primary voice. Continue reading at ALLABOUTJAZZ.COM.