Eberhard Weber ‘Encore’ (ECM) 3/5

eberhard-weberVeteran German bassist Eberhard weber celebrated his seventy-fifth anniversary on the planet in January with an all-star live performance in Stuttgart that featured among others Jan Garbarek with whom the bassist has become synonymous, Paul McCandless and Ralph Towner, Gary Burton, Michael Gibbs, Pat Metheny and the SWR Big Band. This album is the follow up to ‘Résumé’ which came out in 2012. In fact Weber has been a stalwart of the ECM label for some five decades and recorded one of the finest debut albums for the label with ‘Colours of Chloé’ back in 1974 before an extended tenure with Garbarek of twenty-seven years and ended only in 2007.
However, for this latest recording, the sound is as sparse and pared down as one could possibly imagine, and one cannot help but feel that a few guest appearances from the aforementioned might have added just the right amount of variety required to proceedings. As it is, the layered synths over the flugelhorn of the only other musician present, Ack Van Rooyen, lends an atmospheric contribution to the music in general and the number ‘Frankfurt’ has something of a film soundtrack quality to it. The mood is at once gloomy and sedate on ‘Cambridge’ which is notable for some virtuosic musings on bass by the leader while underneath the keyboards on ‘Konstanz’ the feel is altogether more eastern with the creative use of keyboards as a quasi-brass ensemble. Sadly, the mood does not brighten somewhat on ‘Seville’ which is surprisingly sombre and all too brief ‘Granada’ when one might have expected a certain joie de vivre.

All of the pieces are titled after cities that Eberhard Weber has visited while on tour and they are relatively short in nature with the longest weighing it at around four and a half minutes. Informative and detailed inner sleeve notes seem to becoming an increasingly common sight with new ECM releases and that is to be welcomed because the musicians deserve to have their thoughts on the recording process aired and this is the case with Weber who, in conversation, comes across as a somewhat modest musician.

Tim Stenhouse