A genius at work…
Eberhard Weber – Once Upon a Time – ECM 2699 383 3136 – 8/9/94 Live recording – 48:39 – ****1/2
(Eberhard Weber – hybrid bass)
Bassist, Eberhard Weber, suffered a stroke in 2007, that has prevented him from active live recording. Thank goodness we are left with his extensive ECM catalog that goes back to 1973. In addition there are live recordings, before his stroke, that can be mined for future release. Such is the case with a August 9, 1994 solo concert from the Theatre Des Halles, in Avignon, France. Weber performed there as part of the Festival International De Contrabass, and his performance, in superb acoustics, is being released by ECM.
The classically trained German bass player, whose compositions blend chamber music, European classical, jazz, and ambient genres into an intoxicating musical stew made possible thru Eberhard’s hybrid bass. He uses small electronic manipulations on his live recordings, with his unique bass played thru electronic delay, controlled by foot pedals. Using short samples, which can be repeated, it allows Weber to “improvise” with layering. The result is a mesmerizing auditory experience, with the listener feeling that there must be other instruments accompanying the bass.
For the Avignon recording, Eberhard chose compositions largely from his Orchestra (1988) and Pendulum(1993) albums, that could be played live without having the full arsenal of “effects” that his studio albums could provide. The seven tracks cast a spell that brings adulation, and wonderment, regarding Weber’s unique skills.
Opening with “Pendulum,” Eberhard merges Indian rhythms with deft fingering skills. His improvisations continually fascinate keeping listeners in rapt attention. “Trio for Bassoon and Bass” expands the sound stage with a counterpoint response that defies description. You would swear that there is a “sitar” like instrument hidden behind a curtain on stage.
“Ready Out There” continues the trance that Weber weaves. “Silent For A While” begins gently, and continues on a cosmic path. “Delirium” continues in the same realm. For those that appreciated John Coltrane’s re-working of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things,” they will really get off on Eberhard’s vision of this classic tune. His version both caresses the melody, while improvising over the familiar changes. It can be a bit “edgy” while still honoring its beauty.
“Air” concludes the concert. At less than four minutes, it’s a tease that would have left the audience begging for more. I certainly was..
Trio for Bassoon and Bass
Ready Out There
Silent For A While
My Favorite Things