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Eberhard Weber has had a distinguished career as a bassist. He pioneered the use of electronics with the bass, and while that enhanced the dimension and the dynamic, he did not let it obscure the harmony and sensibility of his music.
Weber turned 65 in 2005. His birthday was celebrated in Stuttgart with two concerts, recorded for posterity, and for some fascinating and intensely pleasing listening.
Weber has played with several exemplary musicians over the years and so, it was not easy to choose those who would be on stage with him. The final choice of Jan Garbarek (soprano and tenor saxophones), Rainer Brüninghaus (piano), Gary Burton (vibraphone), Wolfgang Dauner (piano), Marilyn Mazur (percussion) and the SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart conducted by Roland Kuttig, cannot be faulted. The music is redolent of the peaks that Weber achieved and profiles the vast sweep of his music as it seamlessly assimilates jazz, free movement and the grandeur of the Symphony Orchestra.
The starting point finds all the musicians, with the exception of Dauner, in motion. "Silent Feet is a swirling folk tune, the Orchestra giving voice to that before Garabrek cuts the swath with his tart soprano. The music is shaded in continuous evolution, the emphasis shifting into roil and calm, making for an opening that nails attention.
The nucleus of the quintet finds jazz encapsulated on "Syndrome. Burton sets the mood, his vibraphone settling into the groove and singing lightly before Brüninghaus drives the tempo into a vista of colorful phrases. Garbarek is on fire on the tenor saxophone, staying in the groove and unleashing a quick aside while Weber opens the melody, his gait supple, and his moves inventive.
The marvel that is "The Colours of Chloe opens the five-part "Birthday Suite." Time has not effaced the beauty of the composition. It has been re-energized with Burton's sublime art and the tensile, acerbic lines of Garbarek's soprano saxophone. Brüninghaus who was on the original recording, adds a virtuosic air with his time signatures and emphasis. Weber has the final say on "Air, where he shows that the bass has an eloquent voice. He brings in melody, adds counterpoint, and melds creativity and technique into a significant signpost.
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).