KEVIN EUBANKS, THE MESSENGER


Guitarist Kevin Eubanks stretches in a number of satisfying directions on The Messenger, his second release for Mack Avenue Records since leaving his gig after 18 years as the bandleader on The Tonight Show. His previous CD, Zen Food (2011) was an intimate outing flavored with contemporary twists and a laid back vibe as if Eubanks was getting his feet wet after being absent from the recording studio, but there is no hesitation of musical prowess or sound ideas on The Messenger. Keeping a good thing going, Eubanks returns with the wonderful Bill Pierce on saxophones and veteran drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith along with bassist Rene Camacho and brothers, Robin and Duane, playing trombone and trumpet, respectively, who collectively swing on a mix of groove tunes and a pair of lovely ballads.  It takes a bit of swagger to convert John Coltrane's "Resolution" to a finger poppin' taste of soul jazz, but Eubanks' arrangement maintains a proper respect to create a unique listening experience. All the tunes are strong with Eubanks out front, whether he's digging the blues ("Ghost Dog Blues") or slipping into some eye-winking funk ("420.") A family project (band members and three brothers all qualify) with a loose, jam band quality, The Messenger is contemporary jazz at its finest. The stylish music has an import that reveals itself after several hearings and shows a side of Eubanks that was only hinted at previously. (11 tracks; 54:05 minutes)  www.kevineubanks.com

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JAZZ IN SPACE: KEVIN EUBANKS, THE MESSENGER

Monday, February 25, 2013

KEVIN EUBANKS, THE MESSENGER


Guitarist Kevin Eubanks stretches in a number of satisfying directions on The Messenger, his second release for Mack Avenue Records since leaving his gig after 18 years as the bandleader on The Tonight Show. His previous CD, Zen Food (2011) was an intimate outing flavored with contemporary twists and a laid back vibe as if Eubanks was getting his feet wet after being absent from the recording studio, but there is no hesitation of musical prowess or sound ideas on The Messenger. Keeping a good thing going, Eubanks returns with the wonderful Bill Pierce on saxophones and veteran drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith along with bassist Rene Camacho and brothers, Robin and Duane, playing trombone and trumpet, respectively, who collectively swing on a mix of groove tunes and a pair of lovely ballads.  It takes a bit of swagger to convert John Coltrane's "Resolution" to a finger poppin' taste of soul jazz, but Eubanks' arrangement maintains a proper respect to create a unique listening experience. All the tunes are strong with Eubanks out front, whether he's digging the blues ("Ghost Dog Blues") or slipping into some eye-winking funk ("420.") A family project (band members and three brothers all qualify) with a loose, jam band quality, The Messenger is contemporary jazz at its finest. The stylish music has an import that reveals itself after several hearings and shows a side of Eubanks that was only hinted at previously. (11 tracks; 54:05 minutes)  www.kevineubanks.com

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