Spirit Talk

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Kevin Eubanks
LABELS: Blue Note
WORKS: jazz
PERFORMER: Kevin Eubanks (gtr); Robin Eubanks (tromb); Kent Jordan (alto flute); Dave Holland (b); Marvin Smitty Smith (d); Mark Mondesir (d)


Of all jazz musicians, the guitarist has been most confronted and influenced by the sort of contemporary mores that have had little effect on, say, the saxophonist. Tal Farlow, Barney Kessel, Kenny Burrell and Joe Pass are perhaps the only (surviving) keepers of the pure bop idiom. Pass, 65 this month, is most often heard solo these days, applying himself to standards. This new disc, on which he is surrounded by his colleagues of 30 years back, is thus especially welcome.


Tripping lightly but precisely over the lush confection of the quartet’s accompaniment, Pass is here an intricate study in straight-ahead swinging. The guitar playing of 36-year-old Kevin Eubanks was influenced by the acoustic spirituality of John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, probably before he had heard the likes of Pass and peers. The resulting (acoustic) guitar sound heard on the new disc is similarly folksy and friendly. Brother Robin Eubanks is euphonious in trombone accompaniment, while the alto flute of Kent Jordan adds gentle drama. Garry Booth