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Duane Eubanks & DE3: Live at Maxwell’s

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Duane Eubanks’ trumpet style is hard to pin down. While his tone is instantly recognizable, with a unique balance of brightness and restraint that nods to Clifford Brown, his application of it varies. Indeed, on the fine Live at Maxwell’s, a trio record with bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Eric McPherson (and which is only live in the sense that it wasn’t recorded in a studio, but in a Manhattan drum store), it varies across tracks.

On “Little Johnny C Blues,” Eubanks takes full advantage of the band’s harmonic openness: It’s not quite free, but one has to concentrate to hear the blues structure, and Eubanks’ pressing momentum has flashes of Don Cherry in it. But the very next tune, the mostly improvised “Saturday Moanin’,” finds him somber, almost keening, over a single chord. Then comes “Strokish,” a starkly shape-shifting Eubanks composition.

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