Guitarist John Abercrombie and pianist Marc Copland are old allies, with an association stretching back forty years when both were members of Chico Hamilton’s quartet. At the dawn of fusion, both played with the pioneering jazz-rock band Dreams. Since the late ‘90s, they’ve revived their partnership in diverse contexts and have toured in formations ranging from piano-guitar duo to a trio with Kenny Wheeler to the cooperative group Contact with Dave Liebman and Billy Hart. Abercrombie hasn’t featured a piano in his ECM recording groups since his late ‘70s-early ‘80s quartet with Richie Beirach. His new CD, “39 Steps,” is a quartet recording including Copland, Drew Gress on bass and Joey Baron on drums.
Pianist and composer James Weidman celebrated his 60th birthday with the release of “Truth and Actuality,” a disc credited to the Aperturistic Trio. While this is his first trio release since 1997, he never left the format entirely as each of his previous recordings featured some tunes in that setting. He attributes his passion for the trio to his years spent accompanying vocalists, something his band mates share, as bassist Harvie S is well known for his partnership with Sheila Jordan and drummer Steve Williams was at the core of Shirley Horn’s trio for decades. “Through working with vocalists,” Weidman observes, “we all have a passion for the lyrical side of this music.”
Also this week, the duo of Scott Amendola and Charlie Hunter follow up their duo release from earlier in the year with “Pucker,” this time focusing on Amendola’s compositions; Brooklyn-based drummer and composer Scott Neuman debuts his Neu3 Trio with saxophonist Michael Blake and bassist Mark Helias on “Blessed”; and the Jitterbug Vipers, who specialize in a beloved jazz offshoot called ‘viper jazz’ which evokes the rollicking spirit of the Swing Era’s halcyon days, unveil “Phoebe’s Dream.”