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Metheny, Pat/Jan Garbarek/Gary Burton: Hommage à Eberhard Weber

If you are at all familiar with the ECM label you know the name Eberhard Weber, the iconic jazz bassist who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2007 that has prevented him from performing live in concert. To celebrate the musician's seventy-fifth birthday a group of his friends and fellow musicians got together and performed a live concert at Theaterhaus in Stuttgart, Germany.

The band consisted of Pat Metheny (guitar), Jan Garbarek (saxophones), Gary Burton (vibraphone), Scott Colley (double bass), Danny Gottlieb (drums), Paul McCandless (oboe, soprano saxophone) and Eberhard Weber (bass samples). Last but not least is the SWR Big Band, conducted by Helge Sunde and Michael Gibbs.

Weber has had an amazing career capped most recently in 2009 with the Albert Mangelsdorff Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Jazz, the Jazzpreis Baden-Wurttemberg award earlier this year and the publication of his book Résumé: Eine deutsche Jazz-Geschichte.

This is really a wonderful tribute to Weber as his tunes have been magnificently adapted for the Big Band treatment. The first track "Résumé Variations" features Garbarek's saxophone improvisations over Weber's pre-recorded bass loops making for a very haunting and ethereal piece of musical brilliance. The focal point of the album is the massive thirty-three minute title track where Metheny has selected Weber's solo bass improvisations and adapted them to a Big Band setting. The piece slowly builds as the brass becomes more prominent and Metheny's fluid like guitar starts to take hold all the while keeping Weber's liquefied bass meanderings front and center. All the players get in on the act as this is truly a band effort and the brass playing is phenomenal. Another great track is the absorbing "Touch" where the vibraphone and brass sounds are mesmerizing, especially the euphonium and the bass is rich and full. An enchanting version of Weber's "Maurizius" is next featuring densely layered instrumentation that bursts with intensity and McCandless' excellent soprano sax stealing the spotlight. That leaves only one track left and trust me folks it's a good one.

Judging from their enthusiastic response, the audience, which included Weber himself, enjoyed the concert very much. If you are a fan of Metheny, Weber or just jazz in general, I suggest you will too.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing:
1. Résumé Variations
2. Hommage
3. Touch
4. Maurizius
5. Tübingen
6. Notes After an Evening

Added: October 8th 2015
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Label's Official Site
Hits: 1245
Language: english

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Metheny, Pat/Jan Garbarek/Gary Burton: Hommage à Eberhard Weber
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-10-08 08:40:46
My Score:

To celebrate the 75th birthday of legendary jazz bassist Eberhard Weber, a host of notable musicians from the ECM roster gathered at the Stuttgart Theaterhaus in Germany over two night in January of 2015 to pay tribute to their close friend. Delivering big band renditions of Weber classics, plus a 30+ minute "Hommage" that includes tapes of the bassist with the rest of the band laying down majestic solos and melodies over. When you have Pat Metheny, Jan Garbarek, Gary Burton, Scott Colley, Danny Gottlieb, and Paul McCandless involved, you just know the results are going to be magical, and toss in the SWR Big Band, conducted by Helge Sunde & Michael Gibbs, and you have the makings for two extraordinary evenings.

Seeing as Weber has not been able to physically play since 2007 due to a stroke, it really was a great idea of Metheny's to utilize his recorded bass during portions of this live event. With Burton's alluring vibes, Garbarek's soaring sax, and Metheny's tasty guitar lines weaving in and out of the mix, and backed by the majestic orchestra, the results are simply gorgeous. Throughout the set you get moments of stark tranquility, booming bombast, as well as classy, sophisticated jazz, all expertly played and arranged.

The booklet contains some fascinating black & white photos from the concerts, showing the band playing in front of screens that show either vintage still shots or video of the bassist playing live, and to top it all off, he was actually in the front row watching along with the fans. It must have been a very special few nights for he as well as everyone involved.

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