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Fri Jun 29, 2018, 09:22 PM

A few minutes after the Germans...John Abercrombie.

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Reply A few minutes after the Germans...John Abercrombie. (Original post)
NNadir Jun 2018 OP
NNadir Jun 2018 #1
NRaleighLiberal Jun 2018 #2
NNadir Jun 2018 #3
NRaleighLiberal Jun 2018 #4

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Fri Jun 29, 2018, 09:24 PM

1. Just learned this timeless genius died last year.

His music defined some important parts of my life.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #1)

Fri Jun 29, 2018, 10:24 PM

2. The entire ECM catalog has defined much of my life.

I've listened to most of it.

Abercrombie was a favorite - Timeless is...well, Timeless.

We've lost Kenny Wheeler, Abercrombie, Paul Motian, Charlie Haden, Paul Bley....so many great musicians are leaving us.

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Response to NRaleighLiberal (Reply #2)

Sat Jun 30, 2018, 05:29 AM

3. I still remember the first time I heard an ECM record.

I had just moved to California for the second time, this to escape what was definitely the worst year of my life, a year so horrible that 43 years later it still hasn't really gone away, the pain is still with me whenever I think of it.

I was trying to do anything to keep myself from killing myself, not because I wanted to live in particular, but because I couldn't bear the thought of what my suicide would do to my father.

I had a neighbor, very pretty, but not all that bright really, and she really liked me because I was from the East Coast, and although she lived in California, she kept insisting that the East Coast was the greatest place in the world, and since I was from New York, I must be OK. She invited me over to a party at her house and I went.

The house was filled with musical instruments, and all the people at the party were musicians including my host's boyfriend. And these musicians kept sitting in with each other. Her boyfriend was a guitarist, and I was a guitarist, but when he played, he played in a way I had never heard. He was a little bit arrogant but struggled to be polite, although he was fairly disinterested in even hearing me play.

I learned he supported himself not a musician, because he was great player but definitely not commercial or mainstream, but as the manager of a record store.

So I went to the store, a small store; it was called Platypus in Manhattan Beach, CA. The musician I'd heard, my neighbor's boyfriend, wasn't there when I went in, but there was a clerk there, my kind of guy, a New York City Jewish guy from Queens, a little cynical, a little bitter that his life was going the way it was and that he was just working in a record store.

I remember it was late afternoon.

Ralph Towner's "Solstice" was playing. I said to the clerk, who is that? He looked at me with a little condescension, and sighed, "It's Ralph Towner, man." I was poor in those days; some days I didn't eat because I had no money, but I happened to have had some that day, and I bought the record. And I kept going back to that store. And that clerk was often there, and when I mentioned my neighbor, who was his boss and how good he was, the guy sighed, somewhat bitterly and said, "yeah, he has that John Abercrombie thing going..."

So I bought "Timeless..."

And then it started, the ECM addiction. The music, the cover art! It changed everything, and to my surprise, I found myself wanting to live.

I'd work as many hours at I could at a boring and somewhat repetitive job that I was very lucky to get, where many (but not all) of my co-workers were complete idiots. I'd spend every extra dime I earned on ECM records. A real treat was to take in a concert at the Palladium, Keith Jarrett or Eberhard Weber, or Abercrombie, or Oregon or some other Towner. I mean I'd literally skip meals to pay for tickets.

A few years later, I returned to New York and after a while came into some money and used it to go back to school in an intense program, and lots of times I'd go to the city for those moments that the pressure relaxed. I went to lots of performances I saw Abercrombie play scores of times, a number of times in a duet with Towner at the Bottom Line, or My Father's Place on Long Island, Paul Motian in these little tiny clubs.

Once I was in a little restaurant in Greenwich Village eating alone and believe it or not, a guy sat at the next table and it turned out to be Abercrombie himself. He was there with a very beautiful woman, and I disturbed him briefly to say how much I loved his music and apologized for bothering him, and spent the entire hour, rudely listening to overhear his conversation, during which he complained about his playing.

I never heard him play a note that wasn't amazing to me, but apparently he felt - or said that day - that it was often a struggle. It kind of makes sense. Nothing can be that beautiful without struggle, except maybe the Liles of the Fields.

The last 40 years have had their ups and downs, but overall, as I approach the end of it, I am struck with how wonderful life is, filled with such remarkably beautiful things. I just can't believe I ever wanted to die.

Those ECM records were the door that I stumbled upon in the darkness, and when I opened it, it turned out to be the door out of hell.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 30, 2018, 10:52 PM

4. Right now my favorite ECM listen is Tomasz Stanko

Especially Lontano and Suspended Night.

Also love Enrico Rava.

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