Robin Eubanks and Mental Images: Get 2 It
Like many creative endeavors, there seems to be cyclical nature to the trends and fashions that influence artist's musical undertakings. The impact of acid rock and funk could be heard in the jazz of artists such as Miles Davis and John McLaughlin when they "plugged in" during the late '60s and early '70s. We would then need to skip forward to the mid '80s to again see funk and electronic stimuli making their mark on the M-Base faction that found people like Greg Osby, Steve Coleman, and Robin Eubanks exploring a fusion of avant and groove sensibilities. Today, it seems that the movement has run its course. Still, its implications seem to resonate in some of the founding artists' current endeavors, including Robin Eubanks' Get 2 It, his initial effort for his own REM label and first solo set in some two years.
A veteran of the bands of Art Blakey, Dave Holland and Elvin Jones, Eubanks comes up with an intrepid new statement on Get 2 It. Albeit his genuine interest in exploring new avenues by attaching electronics to his bone, it makes for a sound that it quite atypical. When saxophonists hooked up their Varitone add-ons back in the late '60s, there still was a modicum of the essential sound of the horn. With Eubanks' electric trombone, the horn's fundamental sound has been so transformed as to be only remotely recognizable. Of the four tracks to feature this newfangled instrument, "Blues For Jimi" (penned, of course, for Jimi Hendrix) is the most successful because Eubanks gets a raw sound that approaches that of a psychedelic electric guitar and George Colligan's organ groove keeps things right in the pocket. Elsewhere, like on Wayne Shorter's "House of Jade," the electronics seem out of place in contrast to Eubanks' more sonorous moments on acoustic horn.
The acoustic cuts that feature Eubanks' intricate writing prove to be the most satisfying. "Cross Currents" effortlessly skirts between various meters as boss Dave Holland and band mate Billy Kilson hold down the fort with assurance. The funk groove of "Metamorphos" stirs up quite a froth as it also initiates us to Eubanks's core working unit with brother Duane on trumpet, George Colligan on piano/synth/organ, Lonnie Plaxico on bass, and Gene Jackson on drums. "Sabana" has as its foundation a bass pattern reminiscent of Ron Carter's line on Wayne Shorter's "Footprint." A more complex and jagged series of tempo changes marks "Indo" and one would need a scorecard to keep up with it all. In the end, each listener will have to form their own opinions about Eubanks' unusual new sound, but there's enough happening throughout that fans with eclectic tastes will find more than enough to keep them content.
Track Listing: Metamorphos, Get 2 It, Essie, REM State, Blues For Jimi, Cross Currents, RNB-First Take, Sabanna, House of Jade, Reunion, Indo, Audio Notes by Robin
Personnel: Robin Eubanks (trombone & electric trombone); Duane Eubanks (trumpet); Kevin Eubanks (acoustic guitar); Maya Azucena (vocals); George Colligan, Michael Cain (keyboards); Lonnie Plaxico, Dave Holland (bass); Billy Kilson, Gene Jackson (drums); Mino Cinelu (percussion)
Record Label: REM