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John Abercrombie & Andy LaVerne - Where We Were $12.95


John Abercrombie - Guitar, Andy LaVerne - Piano

Tunes recorded live at the Seelbach:
1. End Of A Love Affair (4:59) Edward C. Redding
2. Soulstice (7:25) Andy LaVerne
3. Where We Were (9:08) John Abercrombie
4. Dream Team (7:20) Andy LaVerne
5. Dream Gypsy (6:36) Veevers
6. Turn Out The Stars (10:52) Bill Evans
7. Quality Of Your Silence (7:21) Andy LaVerne
8. John's Waltz (6:42) John Abercrombie
9. Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (9:02) Sigmund Romberg
Total Time (69:54)

Listen to CD Tracks

    My good friend John Abercrombie is one of the most influential musicians of his generation.  For guitarists, he represents the link between Jim Hall and Pat Metheny/John Scofield/Bill Frisell.  But his influence reaches far beyond guitarists, to all musicians.  I know, because I’m one of the musicians he’s influenced.  Ever since we first met in Boston in the latter half of the 1960’s, I’ve thought of John’s playing as innovative, creative, and cutting edge.  In our very first playing experiences together, John played electric bass as well as guitar, both with a heavy groove.  Our common admiration of the Bill Evans/Jim Hall piano/guitar duo prompted our own experiments with the piano/guitar duo.
    Although my playing was still in a rather formative stage, I can remember clearly that those first duo sessions felt natural and comfortable.  I knew then that this was a setting I wanted to continue playing in.  When John moved to NYC in the early 1970’s, I visited and sat in on some of the early “loft” sessions, where I met people such as Mike and Randy Brecker, Dave Liebman, Marc Copland, Jan Hammer and Richie Beirach.  Hearing and playing with these musicians convinced me to once again follow John’s lead and move back to NYC (my “hometown”).

    Soon both John and I were out on the road in different bands. When we got back to town, we’d “check in”, and play through some new music together.  Our first duo gig was in 1975 at Sweet Basil, which had recently opened.  In 1978 we did our first recording together, on a project produced by Stan Getz for Columbia, which unfortunately was never released.  Since then, many more gig and recording opportunities followed, and the duo was established as an ongoing venture.

    It’s hard to call two people a band, but I think of this duo as a special kind of band, one which has a deep level of interplay, yet can groove as hard as any with a full rhythm section.  That in no small part is due to John’s ability to play bass lines and comp chords simultaneously, a skill developed from his early electric bass playing days.  As for my comping behind John’s solos, I approach that in several ways.  My main objective is to provide a lush harmonic foundation for John to play over.  I also like to provide a strong bass function, but not as in a walking bass line.  Rather, I use octaves, fifths, and pedal points in the piano’s bass register.  I can also comp as if playing with a full rhythm section, and let the rhythmic momentum of John’s lines propel the ”band”.  I solo in the duo many ways; right hand only single note lines, and with left rooted or rootless voicings, chordal (both “locked hands” and quartal), and freer, i.e. impressionistic full keyboard sweeps and textures.  Basically, the duo provides a platform for me to play anything from solo piano to ensemble functions, with a rhythmic concept ranging from elastic time to outright swing.

    Our repertoire has always consisted of three basic elements: standards (usually reharmonized), originals (both mine & John’s), and tunes recorded by Bill & Jim.  This recording is no exception, as each of the categories is well represented. Although we’ve never written a tune together, we have collaborated on occasion.  A few years ago John showed me a reharmonization of “All The Things You Are” he had begun working on.  He had finished the first sixteen bars, I found it so compelling that I completed it.  That was the impetus for a long line of reharmonizations, which has become somewhat of a personal trademark.  On this project, we have another collaboration of sorts - “Where We Were”, music by John Abercrombie, title by Andy LaVerne!

    A recording session typically consists of multiple takes of each tune, but this being a live concert recording, multiple takes was not an option.  However, our challenge in putting this recording together was not to find enough material from the concert, but to choose which tunes not to include so as to meet the time constraints of the CD.  I think the program represents a good cross section of our material, with careful consideration given to a well balanced presentation of the two instruments.  This CD truly represents “Where We Were”, both on the night of April 1st in Louisville, and in the years of playing together before that. Now, thanks to Jamey D. Aebersold and Double-Time Records, you too are “Where We Were”.

    Andy Laverne May, 1996

    Playing in a duo is extremely challenging and at the same time offers certain freedoms that larger groups can not afford.
 I guess that I have always been partial to duos and trios for most of my groups, probably because of the amount of actual playing time that is involved, (call it selfish, or just being a guitar player!).

    Over the years I have played and recorded in different duo settings; Ralph Towner, John Scofield, Don Thompson and Jack DeJohnette, but the most ongoing duo is definitely with my longtime friend and partner in crime, Andy LaVerne.

    We go way back. Back to the 60's, back to Boston, back to lots and lots of hair! I can't actually remember when we first played together, but I'm pretty sure that I was playing electric bass, an instrument I played to support my guitar habit.

We immediately became friends and discovered that we both shared a passion for the duo recordings of Bill Evans and Jim Hall.

    Until the Evans - Hall recordings, most of the music I listened to was of larger bands, trios, quartets, etc. Although there were several trios with guitar - piano - bass (Oscar Peterson, Nat King Cole), to the best of my knowledge this was the only pure duo. The influence of those records on myself and Andy was, and still is, a profound one. It was the inspiration for our work together and I know that it has been a foundation for my own personal music. We still play some of the same tunes that they did.

    The duo is like a band. It can play ballads, waltzes of which I am particularly fond, it can be playful and thematic or it can just burn! We do everything that a band does but with out the bass and drums. It requires more responsibility for myself and Andy, and also a sense of trust and a real good sense of time. We have to have that trust and time so that we can play freely and not feel the need to fill all gaps, which can happen without the rhythm section to lean on.

    Where We Were is our first live recording and represents what we did on April 1st in Louisville, KY.  Maybe this will inspire a few more duos. I know it will inspire us to keep on going for some time now.

    John Abercrombie, May 96