Six String Wizards

All That Jazz: Apr. 2010

Columns | Jean-Pascal Vachon | April 2010

The mini festival dedicated to gypsy jazz will welcome some of its best representatives at Vienna’s Porgy and Bess this April. Within the next few weeks, a wave of renowned jazz guitarists such as John Scofield, John Abercrombie and legendary Jim Hall will arrive to showcase their musical talent.

As one of the fathers of modern jazz, Hall stands out with a style of quiet, poetic guitar playing. Since the fifties, he has performed with several esteemed artists – including Bill Evans and Michael Petrucciani – and has produced advanced, introverted music. In fact, one of Hall’s best-known collaborations is with pianist Evans, another introvert poet with whom he recorded two classic albums in the sixties.

Reviewers describe Hall’s style as "mellow," "gentle," "rich in tone," and "lightly amplified." To quote drummer Joey Baron: "Jim plays but a few notes, leaving space for conversations with me." The best ideas don’t always need to be proclaimed, so why play ten notes when one is enough, believes Hall.

"Listening is still the key."

"His introspection, lyricism, spontaneity and risk-taking further set him apart," said guitarist Rez Abassi. "His technique is idiosyncratic to the guitar, yet he is highly influenced by saxophonists and pianists. -- a miniature orchestra."

Later this year Jim Hall turns 80, and rumor has it this tour might be his farewell – for some this may be the last chance to enjoy the quiet intensity of his masterpieces. In the intimate setting of the Mozart-Saal on Apr. 14, he will be accompanied by bassist Scott Coley and drummer Baron.

John Scofield has performed at the Konzerthaus, Porgy and Bess and at the WUK. On May 3, he is playing at the Konzerthaus with a quartet of keyboard, bass and drums, with his longtime partner Bill Stewart. Together with Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell, Scofield is considered one of the "big three" current jazz guitarists. His breakthrough took place in the early eighties when he joined Miles Davis band. With his very distinctive sound, slightly distorted and a bit "dirty," Scofield has become a masterful jazz improviser whose stylistic characteristics are somewhere between post-bop, funk-edged jazz and R & B. Without forgetting blues and gospel which have kept him busy with his latest project.

John Abercrombie, slightly older than Scofield and younger than Hall, may not enjoy the popularity of some of his younger colleagues. However, he’s still considered one of the guitar world’s greatest influences. Scofield’s discography has displayed the multiplicity of his styles without ever forgetting the jazz tradition: either straight from the 1960s or sometimes close to late sixties rock à la Jimi Hendrix.

It can be delicate and ethereal, but sometimes quite adventurous.

For his concert at Porgy and Bess on Apr. 13, Abercrombie will be joined by Jared Gold, a disciple of Larry Young, Jack McDuff on the Hammond B3, and drummer Adam Nussbaum, his old partner and one of the guitarist’s most complementary percussionists. Abercombie has long been enamored with the sound of the organ trio typical of his student years at Berkley:

"They just sound so good together!"


John Abercrombie (guitar), Jared Gold (organ), Adam Nussbaum (drums)

April 13, 20:30

Porgy and Bess

1., Riemergasse 11

(01) 512 88 11

For more events see Jazz Concerts, p.24

Musicologist Jean-Pascal Vachon teaches at Webster University Vienna and gives lectures on the history of music at various venues around the city. In addition, he also contributes texts and works as a translator for the Swedish classical label, BIS.

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