On the occasion of his 65th birthday, bassist/composer Eberhard Weber played for two evenings with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and some of his key contemporaries. Scheduling and financial constraints prevented the project from inviting a great number of other musicians including Pat Metheny. Nevertheless, this was a perfect marriage between classical and jazz. Most of the tunes were performed and recorded in the 1970s.
A quiet orchestral opening to the majestic "Silent Feet eases into a folksy melodic beat with saxophonist Jan Garbarek and vibraphonist Gary Burton providing timely pauses with their solos. Burton leads Garbarek's tenor, the classically trained Rainer Brüninghaus on piano, Weber on bass and Marilyn Mazur on percussion for a recreation of Carla Bley's "Syndrome, previously heard on Burton's Real Life Hits (ECM, 1985).
More focused attention falls on Weber as he is first joined by Wolfgang Dauner on piano for the lyrical rendition of Kern's "Yesterdays. Garbarek improvises freely around the harmony of Weber's "Seven Movements, with Weber giving a vibrant, guitar-like and melodic showcase to this originally solo piece from Orchestra (ECM, 1989).
"Piano Transition, very similar in melodic flow to the main theme of the movie The Piano and part of the five-part "Birthday Suite, exhibits hymn-like motifs before quickly moving into orchestral textures of "Maurizius. Both pieces have a strong, captivating minimalist presence.
A mild, melodious, percussive-sounding and not well-known instrument called the hang joins the beatbox for the appropriately named "Hang Around, giving it an intriguing exotic flavor.
The concert closes with a quiet solo rendition of Weber's "Air, with echoes of Miles Davis' "Mr. Pastorius from Amandla (Warner Bros., 1989) in the theme. .
The orchestra avoids any risk of being used as background music as Weber's intention is for a symbiotic effect of all the musicians together. The live performances on Stages of a Long Journey were so successful that European audiences will likely be able to see this full assembly performing.
Track Listing: Silent Feet: Syndrome; Yesterdays; Seven Movements; Birthday Suite: The Colours of Chloë, Piano Transition, Maurizius, Percussion Transition, Yellow Fields; Hang Around; The Last Stage of a Long Journey; Air.
Personnel: Eberhard Weber: bass (1, 2, 4-12); double bass (3); Gary Burton: vibraphone (1, 2, 5-9, 11); Jan Garbarek: soprano saxophone (1, 4-9, 11); tenor saxophone (2, 5-9); Rainer Bruninghaus: piano (1, 2, 5-9, 11); Marilyn Mazur: percussion (1, 2, 5-9, 11); SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart, Roland Kluttig conductor: (1, 5-9, 11); Wolfgang Dauner: piano (3); Nino G.: beatbox (10); Reto Weber: hang (10).
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