As It Stands
Shadow of a Doubt
Veteran guitarist John Abercrombie has been recording since the early ‘70s, but rarely does he lead bands with piano. 39 Steps is the notable exception, with pianist Marc Copland playing alongside bassist Drew Gress and drummer Joey Baron. The group members have played together in various configurations for decades, with Abercrombie and Copland particularly synced up throughout—most notably on the opening of the downtempo “Vertigo” and the lyrical “Bacharach.” (Their past collaborations even include a duo album.) Gress fits in seamlessly with the other stringed instruments and takes several tasteful solos, but he seems to find another gear on “Spellbound” (In case you didn’t notice, several songs here are named after Hitchcock movies.) While this subdued post-bop effort relegates Joey Baron to working with brushes and mallets, he does stir things up nicely on “LST.” So defined is the group sound, they even throw in a collective improvisation called “Shadow of a Doubt” that fits nicely next to the originals by Abercrombie and Copland. This is a fine effort that lives up to its potential.