It's impossible to tell the story of European jazz without mentioning bassist/composer Eberhard Weber. One of the true virtuosos of the bass, the German-born Weber has an immediately recognizable, singing tone--even when he's not performing on his trademark, self-designed electrobass. Like his American counterpart Jaco Pastorius, Weber wasn't shy about making his instrument heard--his round, supple lines didn't tend to disappear into the background, nor was their role exclusively rhythmic or supportive.
Weber's 1974 debut, The Colours of Chlo, remains a near-perfect album and presented an artist whose creative vision seemed completely mature; the rich tonal colors and symphonic sweep of the compositions--not to mention that sound of his bass--remain innate characteristics of his music. This recording marked the beginning of Weber's association as a leader with the ECM label, a relationship that continues to this day; he remains one of the quintessential ECM artists.
Weber has kept a lower profile over the 1990s and into this decade, but his new ECM recording, Stages of a Long Journey--a live document of two nights in Stuttgart, Germany celebrating his 65th birthday, and only his third release since 1990--is as enjoyable and musically vital as any of his records. It consists of, essentially, some of his most famous compositions--his greatest hits, as it were--performed with some of his storied jazz colleagues and a symphony orchestra. But the music is considerably more vital than that synopsis and feels like a perfect introduction to his music for a novice.
AAJ Contributing Editor Paul Olson spoke with the always-opinionated Weber about the project and a great deal more.
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