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To put it quite simply, this is a very important release and for many reasons. Foremost, it’s Eberhard Weber’s first date as a leader in some seven years. In addition, it’s probably his most realized group effort to date, taking advantage of his mature writing style and the past track record he shares with the musicians involved. Multi-instrumentalist Paul McCandless is, of course, one of the founding fathers of the group Oregon, with pianist Rainer Bruninghaus a regular of Weber’s group Colours. As for drummer Michael DiPasqua, this marks his first recording in fourteen years, having been gone from the music scene since 1986. To add another tangle to this web, it should be noted that both DiPasqua and McCandless were present on Weber’s transcendent 1982 ECM project Later That Evening, a masterpiece that also featured the budding talents of Lyle Mays and Bill Frisell.
Now that all that’s out of the way, let’s get to the music at hand. Weber has stated he wanted to create a work that was more classical in nature and less attuned to jazz sensibilities, that seeming somewhat of a paradox considering that Endless Days is very jazz-based indeed. The opening “Concerto For Bass” doesn’t seem like a concerto at all, but a delicate jazz waltz with McCandless’ charming oboe speaking the melody. Both “French Diary” and “Concerto For Piano” are less about swing sensibilities and more straight in character, although a beat dominates throughout. The title track and “The Last Stage of a Long Journey” are probably the most “classical sounding” of the lot, taking on an orchestral hue via Bruninghaus’ lush synthesizer backgrounds.
By using a hybrid electric bass, Weber adds to the characteristic sound of the recording as a whole. His writing also captures a lovely balance between animated and more pastoral moods, offering us an ECM classic in the making.
Track Listing: Concerto For Bass, French Diary, Solo For Bass, Nuit Blanche, A Walk In the Garrigue, Concerto For Piano, Endless Days, The Last Stage of a Long Journey
Personnel: Eberhard Weber (bass), Paul McCandless (oboe, English horn, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone), Rainer Bruninghaus (piano & keyboards), Michael DiPasqua (drums & percussion)
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.