Kevin Eubanks and Stanley Jordan ‘Duets’ (Mack Avenue) 4/5

kevin-eubanks-stanley-jordanOver the years there have been some great jazz guitar duets: John Schofield and Pat Metheny, Joe Pass and Herb Ellis, Paco de Lucia and Al di Meola, John Abercrombie and Ralph Towner, to name but a few. Kevin Eubanks and Stanley Jordan are the latest guitar heavyweights to bring their combined talents to our ears, in the form of their new release “Duets”. And although this isn’t quite up there with the aforementioned, it’s pretty darn close and makes for a very enjoyable listen. It would seem that this album has been on the cards for years. For one thing both artists now share the same record label; Mack Avenue, so it is perhaps no surprise that a meeting of guitar minds would be almost inevitable. What is more surprising however, is the resulting album itself. “Duets” has a far more laid back feel than expected and it is very apparent that Eubanks and Jordan are very relaxed in each other’s company. No guitar histrionics or superstar technical wizardry here, just a nice, uplifting, cool vibe with some great interplay performed with obvious mutual respect. The general feel of “Duets” reminds me of Pat Metheny’s 1979 release “New Chautauqua” in its simplicity and intertwining soundscape. Here, Eubanks and Jordan have produced an album of originals and covers that see the pair performing on electric and acoustic guitars, piano, keyboards, vibes and bass. There is a refreshing clarity throughout the recording, with an organic, meditative spirit employed, rather than a combative, competitive approach. There are a couple of interesting choices of material mixed in with the standards and improvised tunes, including takes on Adele’s “Someone Like You” and Ellie Golding’s “Lights”. Notable tracks include a stripped back “Summertime”, the Metheny-esque “Morning Sun” and the gorgeous piano led “A Child is Born”.

All in all, credit to Eubanks and Jordan for making this album; a home recorded, thoughtful, atmospheric and quietly engaging set of instrumentals. I for one hope there’s more to follow.

Mike Gates