The phrase "jazz cello" is not a contradiction in terms -- at least not for David Eyges, one of a handful of cellists performing and composing jazz. Unlike Ron Carter and other jazz bassists who occasionally play the cello, Eyges is a cellist by training. And after listening to his latest album, "Crossroads," which features Philadelphians Byard Lancaster on reeds and Sunny Murray on drums, one is left wondering why the cello hasn't been heard more often in jazz.
Though classically trained, Eyges demonstrates diverse musical interests. They range from earthy guitar blues (for proof, hear him pluck the notes insistently on "The Way It Is") to chamber jazz gentility (best demonstrated on the soft-spoken "Tree-Life") to the rarefied but quite accessible atmosphere of avant-garde jazz, an influence chiefly revealed in several improvisations.
Throughout, Eyges produces a rich, dark tone. He executes double stops, composes delicate counterpoint and, on the tune "nothing has changed. . . ," shadows Lancaster's breathy flute so closely that the two instruments are one.
"Crossroads" will definitely appeal to progressive jazz audiences, but its venturesome spirit, tempered by melodic and structural concerns, should please a broader audience as well. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM DAVID EYGES -- Crossroads (Music Unlimited Mu74320. THE SHOW DAVID EYGES TRIO -- Saturday at d.c. space.