250

Ximo Tebar: Steps

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
Ximo Tebar: Steps Steps, by guitarist extraordinaire Ximo Tebar, may be his most deceptive yet. At first blush, it appears to channel the funky grooves of latter-day Miles Davis and Marcus Miller. But then, with complex melodic invention and accelerated rhythmic accentuation it soon becomes evident that this music embodies an ebullient sound of surprise. If anything, Tebar channels a star-bright sound with a touch of barely discernable, molten duende and the speed of John McLaughlin, in a sinewy, self-assured elegance that makes him one of a kind. And in this self-assuredness, the guitarist is able to turn his axe into an almost vocal instrument that embarks on its own aria-like sojourns when the need arises. To this extent he slips into a line that began with Charlie Christian and continued from Wes Montgomery to George Benson. His long loping melodic lines often mimic upward flight, while the darting arpeggios are sometimes lightening fast and at other times more languid and brooding.

The record strikes a mature note right at the very beginning. Henry Mancini's theme from The Pink Panther (1963) is a bold move that comes from being self-assured. A standard such as this is rarely attempted on a record, unless the performing artist is one who's cut his chops and paid his dues. Not only does Tebar open his session with a Mancini tune, but he does so at an even more laidback pace, virtually reinventing the time signature. He does no less with a complete reworking of John Coltrane's "26-2" that becomes a slow, sensuous, and swinging bossa nova, as he scats in accompaniment. Wayne Shorter's legendary "Nefertiti" is played bolero-like, but with a twisted, Latin flavor, and inhabits a constant, dreamlike state, with Orrin Evans' Rhodes and Tebar's guitar playing almost bashfully off each other. Herbie Hancock's "Actual Proof" is deconstructed with a gleefully boppish time signature, the undulating tones of the Rhodes creating a memorable, svelte background for the guitar and other instruments to enter the fray. But it is Tebar's compositions that create the biggest dent in the memory.

"Four On Six For Wes," is descriptive of another quirky time signature that also captures Montgomery's character as it ascends and descends the fret-board, pulling together a remarkable string of solos from Rhodes and guitar so that it appears the two instruments are creating a new relationship, like the drum and the bass once did with hip-hop. Tebar's guitar is absolutely speech-like throughout his solo, which is quite refreshing. "Zap" is a quieter track by all accounts, while the title track is an unabashedly clever re-write of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." It's a perfect end to the session and is also a refreshingly bright musical recollection and doffing of the proverbial hat to Coltrane's sheets-of-sound, as exemplified by the saxophone icon's original. The Spanish Tebar has found many admirers in the US because he is so chameleon-like—a shining example of whatDuke Ellington once called the jazz "Sound of Surprise."


Track Listing: Pink Panther; Four On Six For Wes; Zap; 26-2; Actual Proof; Nefertiti; Essential Passion; Steps.

Personnel: Ximo Tebar: guitar; Orrin Evans: Rhodes; Donald Edwards: drums; Alex Blake: acoustic bass; Boris Kozlov: electric bass; Ester Andujar: backing vocals; Ramon Cardo: soprano saxophone; Santi Navalon: keyboards; Stefan Braun: cello; Kiko Berenguer: tenor saxophone; David Pastor: trumpet.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records | Style: Funk/Groove


Shop

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Songs Of Life" CD/LP/Track Review Songs Of Life
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 8, 2016
Read "Have Yourself an Alto Madness Christmas" CD/LP/Track Review Have Yourself an Alto Madness Christmas
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 4, 2016
Read "The Great Jazz Gig In The Sky" CD/LP/Track Review The Great Jazz Gig In The Sky
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 8, 2016
Read "Stille Post (Radio Works: 2003-2011)" CD/LP/Track Review Stille Post (Radio Works: 2003-2011)
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 17, 2016
Read "Loafer's Hollow" CD/LP/Track Review Loafer's Hollow
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "Heritage" CD/LP/Track Review Heritage
by James Nadal
Published: October 3, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!