At a time when many jazz musicians are heeding the call of the mass market and diluting their playing with pop sounds, German bassist Eberhard Weber is proving that the music is still capable of harmonic depth and inventiveness.
Weber who appeared at the Cellar Door last weekend is an accomplished instrumentalist and composer. He inhabits a world of sound bounded by the rich, sonorous textures of impressionist music and the fiery emotions of American jazz. At times, his set featured blistering improvisational sections, with the musicians bouncing musical ideas off each other in a series of solo trade-offs. At others, the group became a well-drilled chamber ensemble executing intricate phrases and motifs. Throughout, the compositions were guided by Weber's delicate musical sensibilities.
The highlight of the performance was "From Ball Gardens," a tone poem that wove its way through various movements, with Weber's specially designed electric string bass providing a vast array of tonal colors that were complemented by the dazzling work of keyboardist Ranier Bruninghaus and the strident solos of soprano saxophonist Charlie Mariano. Drummer John Marshall skillfully alternated his playing between soft, percussive touches and thundering barrages of beats. The effect was at once ethereal and dramatic.
The music of Eberhard Weber has a strikingly individual style that, unlike the music of many of this contemporaries, is backed by a solid, creative substance.