Clearly at home and very comfortable as both trombonist and scat-singing vocalist, this album is Phil Abraham's first outing with the Belgian Lyrae label. Recorded live while on tour in 1996, Abraham demonstrates an intriguing blend of bop trombone, showing a controlled embouchure and slide facility, along with some of the most melodic trombone playing to be found on the European jazz scene. Nowhere do these skills come together with results as satisfying as those on Ron Carter's "A Quick Sketch" which treats listeners to musical colloques between Abraham's trombone, Michel Herr's exotic piano, and Stephane Galland's jarring, sometimes crashing drums. On this piece especially, Abraham fully explores the harmonic possibilities of the slide instrument. After an eight-minute excursion into this world of creative improvised music, the listener is as exhausted and as sated as the players must have been after this very intensive performance. Relief is provided in the next tune, "Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most," with Abraham showing the voluptuous side of his playing. And this is the way the album goes, moving back and forth between different styles of jazz - some swing here, some blues there - with both standards and original compositions being the subjects of these varying styles. Abraham's scating craftmanship is displayed on two of his own compositions, "France's First Name" and "Between Four Eyes." "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise" is played as a tango. The group explores Frank Foster's "Simone" from every angle during their 13-minute visit to this song. There's an unsual treatment of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" which starts off as a platform for Galland's drumming prowess. Abraham's trombone then takes over with Michel Herr's playing dehind him, in what seems to be a ragtime beat ! They pull it off, accomplishing a very unique approach to Coltrane's classic composition. En Public is a fine album from an excellent group of Belgian musicians. The liner notes, by the way, are written in a rather confounding mixture of French and English.
All music guide (en)
Phil Abraham Quartet - CD En Public