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John Abercrombie has died

The 72 year old American jazz guitarist and composer’s death was caused by heart failure

American guitarist John Abercrombie has died, it's reported on his Facebook page, which states: “It is with profound sadness that his family confirms that the legendary jazz guitarist John Abercrombie passed away earlier this evening, August 22nd in Cortland, New York. The family appreciates the outpouring of love and support and respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.” The cause of death has been reported as heart failure, following a stroke Abercrombie suffered earlier this year.

Born in Port Chester, New York in 1944, Abercrombie started playing guitar at the age of 14. He studied under guitarist Jack Petersen at Berklee College of Music from 1962–66. He moved back to New York in 1969, where he became a session musician, working with musicians like Billy Cobham, with whom he recorded the 1974 albums Crosswinds and Total Eclipse, and 1975's Shabazz. In 1975 he appeared on the album Friends, released by Virgin offshoot Caroline, alongside Jeff Williams and Clint Houston.

He recorded his debut album Timeless with Jan Hammer and Jack DeJohnette, which was released by ECM in 1975. The album began his long relationship with the label. In a tribute to Abercrombie on its website, ECM says: “He will be much missed, for his sensitive musicality, his good companionship and his dry humour which enhanced many a session. He leaves behind an extensive discography which will be studied as long as people continue to play jazz guitar.”

In 1975 Abercrombie also formed the band Gateway with drummer DeJohnette and bassist Dave Holland releasing Gateway in 1976 and Gateway II in 1978.

"The first Gateway album?" Abercrombie tells Richard Cook in the The Wire 24, February, 1986. "That one's pretty bizarre. Ten years ago! I was pretty wild then myself, anyway. In my life I was pretty crazy. I've calmed down a lot and I don't feel I have to prove myself as such. I can control what I'm doing on guitar now. I used to just plug in a funbox and see what would happen.

“With a syntheziser I'm getting more abrasive again, he continues, talking about his then recent outings with the guitar synth, an instrument he took up in mid-1980s. “It's brought back some of those earlier qualities, although it's going to be more lyrical too.”

He continued to tour and perform, recently forming a new group with pianist Marc Copland, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Joey Baron, who released 39 Steps in 2014 and Up And Coming earlier this year.

John Abercrombie died in Cortland, New York, on 22 August.