In Memory of John Abercrombie

I first met John in 1972 on a record date with Barry Miles called Scatbird. I had played sessions with John in many of the loft scenes around New York but this was the first time we recorded together. He had such a unique style and sound with a very empathetic ear for the musicians he was playing with.
Around this time I was exploring my love for Eastern Indian music with Badal Roy on Tablas and a Indian singer named Radha Shottam that I had met in India. When I thought about the guitar I immediately asked John to record with us at Gene Perla’s studio.
One of the tunes was dedicated to a sarangi player I had met in India named Sultan Khan. We recorded Sultan trio with guitar, tabla and acoustic bass. John played with such elegance, creativity and originality and truly told a musical story that captured the spirit of Sultan. I have this up on my ReverNation site take a listen.

In 1973 I was a member of Dave Liebman’s Lookout Farm group and our first album was with ECM. Crumbles (Abercrombie’s nick name) was a guest on the record who played a solo acoustic guitar intro on Pablo’s Story which leads into a duet with Dave playing flute. John created such sweet melodies and a beautiful palette of Spanish guitar flavors. On Sam’s Float John plays a bluesy rock solo with various pedals blasting away.

He was a great friend who never changed after having all the success and acknowledgements he received. He was just a regular kind of guy who was funny, supportive and compassionate. After my wife Valerie passed away I wanted to record an album in memory of her and asked John to play since he watched us fall in love and start a family. We recorded “Reunion of Old Spirits” in 1997 and the empathy, sensitivity he played on “The Dance of Death” with this yearning sound brought me to tears. On “A Mother’s Sacred Love” his intro is so caring and caressing it captured my broken spirit. I never released this recording but you can hear the cuts on my website. John Abercrombie will always be remembered in my heat I miss him dearly.

Frank Tusa