311

Eberhard Weber: Stages of a Long Journey

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Eberhard Weber: Stages of a Long Journey If there's any lesson to be learned from Eberhard Weber's Stages of a Long Journey, it's this: just because you don't doesn't mean you can't. A career-spanning retrospective of his own most enduring compositions expanded, in some cases, to include a symphony orchestra, the bassist delivers more than a few surprises. Naysayers only cursorily familiar with Weber's ECM discography—largely defined by improvisation based firmly on defined structure living somewhere between the jazz vernacular and European classicism—often operate under the misconception that he lacks the ability to play "real" jazz.

He can. Here, Weber tackles Carla Bley's classic "Syndrome" with his core quintet- -vibraphonist Gary Burton, saxophonist Jan Garbarek, pianist Rainer Bruninghaus and percussionist Marilyn Mazur—and its fiery swing is a persuasive acquittal for everyone (with the exception of Burton, who's allegiance to mainstream jazz has never been questioned). Garbarek navigates the changes with ease while retaining the personal attention to tone that's been a defining point of his career. Weber, using his distinctive five-string upright electrobass, swings energetically alongside Mazur, another artist rarely considered a centrist-capable drummer.

Weber also reunites with pianist Wolfgang Dauner for a soft reading of Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays." Briefly abandoning his hybrid instrument for the acoustic variety, Weber again makes it clear that his choice to evolve a career largely distanced from the mainstream is just that: a choice.

Endless Days (ECM, 2001), was an emphatically small-group, through- composed recording. Here, the bassist reworks some of his best material to explore the nexus where a longstanding interest in structure meets small ensemble democracy. Three of Weber's most lyrical compositions—the title tracks to The Colours of Chloë (ECM, 1974) and Yellow Fields (ECM, 1976), alongside the darkly romantic "Maurizius," from Later That Evening (ECM, 1982)—are joined together as the thirty-minute "Birthday Suite," this 2005 Stuttgart Germany live recording being a celebration of his 65th birthday. Weber's orchestration provides a requisite shape to the suite; still, Garbarek and Burton get plenty of solo space on the individual tunes, while Bruninghaus and Mazur are given brief solo spots that transition between them.

Weber takes the opportunity to reinvent his material in more ways than simply expanding the sonic palette and providing greater contrapuntal opportunities. The pulse of "Silent Feet" is more buoyant than the original, while Mazur lends an insistent pulse to the impressionistic introduction of "The Colours of Chloë."

Weber also proves his ears have remained open on "Hang Around," a brief piece of trippy hip hop that combines Weber's electrobass with Reto Weber's steel pan-sounding hang and Nino G.'s impressive vocal beatbox.

A compelling retrospective that demonstrates the malleability, melodism and beauty of Weber's oeuvre, Stages of a Long Journey's omission of two words from its source—the bassist's "The Last Stage of a Long Journey," which receives an expansive and expanded orchestral treatment—makes it thankfully clear that this recording is simply a milestone, not an ending.


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).

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read A Dark and Stormy Day CD/LP/Track Review A Dark and Stormy Day
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Pocono Git-Down CD/LP/Track Review Pocono Git-Down
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Rímur CD/LP/Track Review Rímur
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Schönbrunn CD/LP/Track Review Schönbrunn
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Flow" CD/LP/Track Review Flow
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 2, 2016
Read "New Jazz Standards, Volume 2" CD/LP/Track Review New Jazz Standards, Volume 2
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 8, 2017
Read "Blooming Tall Phlox" CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Monte Alban" CD/LP/Track Review Monte Alban
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "A Missing Shade of Blue" CD/LP/Track Review A Missing Shade of Blue
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 22, 2016
Read "Jungle: Live At Okuden" CD/LP/Track Review Jungle: Live At Okuden
by John Sharpe
Published: November 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!