Gateway Cultural Centre Concert Hall March 3 It's nice to see so many people,' Jack De Johnette said, as Gateway took the stage in front of a half-empty auditorium. As is so often the case with American musicians it was difficult to tell whether he was being polite or ironic. Certainly empty seats are not a sight this group of musicians is used to confronting. Each musician is at the top of his field on his chosen instrument - and De Johnette, apart from being quite possibly the best jazz drummer in the world, is also a fine pianist. He and bass player Dave Holland, after all, are the rhythm section that held together the turbulent, angry soundscape that was Miles Davis' Bitches' Brew, as they reminded us with some of the more aggressive playing on Holland's riff-driven How's Never? at the end of the first half. John Abercrombie, who epitomises the thoughtful side of post-jazz rock electric guitar, was by turns lyrical and edgy, making the instrument whisper one minute and snarl the next, albeit with the assistance of a formidable rack of sound processors. As a trio their rapport is seamless and their improvisational explorations original and searching. All selections were band member original compositions and while each player is an astounding improviser, none seems to have a particular gift for memorable melodies. There were times when the ear yearned for a recognisable tune and, given that Abercrombie is a skilled interpreter of songbook standards, an interlude along those lines would have been welcome. De Johnette took to the piano for two quiet pieces - his own Oneness and Abercrombie's Timeless - and his drumming featured strongly on Holland's Pass It On, dedicated to drummer Ed Blackwell. They closed with a heavily disguised blues entitled Seventh D after an evening of restlessly inventive improvisation that appeared to tire the audience more than the band. It was great jazz, but definitely not for beginners.