In my book, John Abercrombie belongs at the head of a jazz-guitar lineage that includes Pat Metheny, John Scofield, and Bill Frisell–all of whom use a softened attack and a globular timbre to weave their impressionistic ideas into jazz’s answer to neoromanticism. Abercrombie has remained the most romantic of the bunch: some of his recorded solos seem to paint a backdrop for a nonexistent foreground, and some of his compositions directly recall older (and nonjazz) forms and idioms. Quite frankly, he has on occasion taken this tack pretty far, zoning off into music that communicates more to those on the stage than to those in the audience. Yet Abercrombie will still pluck remarkable melodic structures from thin air. And he can still bulldoze an up-tempo tune with the kind of pop he needed to keep up with Billy Cobham in the early 70s. Such tunes–in which he punishes the rhythm with a velvety punch–represent the perfect balance between introspection and extroversion. In recent years, Abercrombie has employed the guitar synthesizer, which I suspect allows him to come even closer to his original concepts of guitar sound and sense. His synchromesh trio comprises Marc Johnson and Peter Erskine, a bassist and drummer who work together so often and so well that listeners are to be excused for thinking they’re really Siamese twins. Sunday, Cubby Bear, 1059 W. Addison; 327-1662 or 477-7469.