Kevin Eubanks - The Messenger

Kevin Eubanks
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Kevin Eubanks has been described as one of the greatest guitarist in Jazz, having worked alongside the likes of bebop percussionist Wes Montgomery and drummer Art Blakey. Since releasing his debut album for Elektra Records in 1982, Eubanks has recorded several albums on several labels that have established him as one of the genres most virtuoso of players. A consummate musician, Eubanks' latest oeuvre, The Messenger, displays a dazzling dexterity of style and inventive playing that immerses and marinates the sounds of jazz, fusion and the blues into one cohesive compendium.

Kevin Eubanks has been described as one of the greatest guitarist in Jazz, having worked alongside the likes of bebop percussionist Wes Montgomery and drummer Art Blakey. Since releasing his debut album for Elektra Records in 1982, Eubanks has recorded several albums on several labels that have established him as one of the genres most virtuoso of players. A consummate musician, Eubanks' latest oeuvre, The Messenger, displays a dazzling dexterity of style and inventive playing that immerses and marinates the sounds of jazz, fusion and the blues into one cohesive compendium.

Recorded for the Michigan-based independent Mack Avenue Records, The Messenger follows on from Eubanks' 2010 well-received Zen Food, which Eubanks released following his departure from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno where he spent fifteen years as the shows in-house band leader. Very much a family affair, The Messenger features brothers Robin and Duane on trombone and trumpet, in addition to drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith and bassist Rene Camacho.

Aside from being an accomplished jazz-fusion guitarist, Eubanks also composed nine of the eleven tracks, taking the listener on a voyage of interplanetary sounds that are sometimes cosmic, rhythmically funky and even ultra-groovy. Also included in the mix are an adroit and ingenious cover of guitarist Jeff Beck’s “Led Boots” and a revision of the music of saxophonist John Coltrane, deftly re-worked into the throbbing and slithering “Resolutions.” Alvin Chea, from the vocal sextet Take 6, Chea also plays an ostentatiously vocal role on the aforementioned “Led Boots,” but his underpinning of Eubanks remarkable playing as he simulates the guitar refrain with his mouth, is nothing short of exasperating. Far better is the laid back and jam like “Ghost Dog Blues” and the Wah-wah liquid guitar fill of the mournful “sister Veil.” Perhaps the best song nestled against the hybrid of sound is the quiet beautiful and serene-like “Loved Ones,” where Eubanks caresses the electric guitar with understated beauty and artistry that is most heart-felt.

A unification of countless moods and sounds from the sombre and introspective, to the frantic and the mellow, with Moods and Messages Eubanks has achieved his objective in branching out from his customary jazz surroundings and letting the listener know the breadth of his musicality. Recommended.

By Garry Moran

 
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