The aesthetic sensibility that has become identified as the sound of ECM isin large parta manifestation of German bassist and composer Eberhard Weber's own vision. Spacious, obscured harmonies, fluid melodies and tastefully imbedded electronics, often within a minimalist framework have been consistent components of much of the music in the label's catalog. Weber's inventive approach to his instrumentespecially his creation of the electrobassled him away from the familiar parameters of walking bass lines into more uncharted territory of the bass as a soloist's instrument.
Weber has brought unique meaning to revisionist history with the repurposing of his past solos, first on Résumé
(ECM, 2012) and now on Encore
. Sidelined from performing by a stroke in 2007, the extent of his medical condition remained unconfirmed for several years even with the ECM release of Stages of a Long Journey
that same year. Though that Baden-Württemberg concert took place in 2005, it remains ominous that the album title is modified from Weber's included composition "The Last Stage of a Long Journey" Encore
, like its predecessor, is rooted in the bassist's solo performances while touring with the Jan Garbarek
Group from 1990 into 2007. The thirteen tracks take their names from the European cities where each performance occurred. The approach on Encore
is more pristine than with Résumé
where keyboards, drums and Garbarek's sax seemed the appropriate point solutions to individual pieces. Here, we have Dutch flugelhorn player Ack Van Rooyen
, who played on Weber's first ECM leader outing, The Colours of Chloë
(1973) and was an original member of the now defunct United Jazz + Rock Ensemble, of which Weber was a later addition.
The contribution from van Rooyen is understated as the focus is on Weber as soloist, but, especially with repeated listening, it's clear that the flugelhorn's idyllic beauty is an essential additive in bringing Weber's solos to this new life. Weber occasionally adds his own keyboard playing to these pieces which were mixed in 2014. If the music on Encore
needed description (and it really doesn't), it may be that if Pendulum
(ECM, 1993) could be described as something like enhanced minimalism, then Encore
a close relation; accessible and engaging, it doesn't demand close attention but greatly rewards it. Weber has stated that this may be his last album but with the upcoming release of his autobiography, his inventiveness goes on.