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Eberhard Weber - Stages Of A Long Journey CD (album) cover

STAGES OF A LONG JOURNEY

Eberhard Weber

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.70 | 8 ratings

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fuxi
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Talkin' about a classic live album!

STAGES OF A LONG JOURNEY, recorded live in Stuttgart in 2005 to celebrate the great Eberhard Weber's 65th birthday, offers the listener first-rate re-interpretations of some of Weber's loveliest tunes. The album actually improves on each of them and gives them new force, not least thanks to Marilyn Mazur's precise and energetic drumming. Many of the tunes are accompanied by the "SWR Radio Symphony Orchestra Stuttgart" but this does not make them bottom-heavy, not at all. Those who are familiar with the original studio versions will be pleasantly surprised how Weber has modified the original arrangements. As master bassist (and a cello player too) Weber has, of course, rewritten all the arrangements himself; no hired hands for him!

The album is full of surprising and touching moments. Thus, there are two brief pieces where you can hear Weber duetting on bass with the legendary German jazz pianist Wolfgang Dauner (with whom he founded one of his first bands in the 1960s) and with the superb Norwegian sax player Jan Garbarek, in whose band he appeared for three decades. There's also one entertaining four-minute piece where Weber performs with a certain Nino G., who happens to be a beatboxer.

The majority of the pieces, however, are performed by Weber (on his unique-sounding double bass) with a core band of Mazur on drums, Garbarek on sax, the great Gary Burton on vibes, and the equally superb Rainer Brueninghaus on piano. (Like Garbarek, both Burton and Brueninghaus have played with Weber, on and off, for more than three decades.) This approach works best in the amazing Birthday Suite, which moves from "The Colours of Chloe" to "Mauritius" and "Yellow Fields" (each and every one of them a Weber classic) via two splendid transitions: a four minute grand piano solo by Brueninghaus, and an exciting three minute percussion solo by Mazur.

STAGES OF A LONG JOURNEY isn't really jazz and it isn't European classical music, although it incorporates elements from both traditions, and from rock music as well. It seems undeniable that here we have one of the best possible examples of what you may want to call "progressive music". It reminds me of similar projects by the American band Oregon, but Weber's music is more forceful, his soloists are more exciting, and though some of his tunes are melancholic, there is no trace of sentimentality or wishy-washy "New Age". Those who have not yet encountered Eberhard Weber's solo albums couldn't hope for a better introduction.

P.S. If you happen to be familiar with STAGES and would like another ECM live album that sounds similarly inspired, I recommend Jan Garbarek's own DRESDEN, which was released in 2009.

fuxi | 5/5 |

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