Encore carries forward the concept that Eberhard Weber brought to his 2012 Résumé release. At that time, unable to play bass anymore due to a stroke suffered in 2007, the German musician extracted a dozen solos he’d created while working in Jan Garbarek’s group and essentially fashioned them into new pieces in the studio. Rearranging the raw solos, adding keyboards and electronics and inserting contributions from saxophonist Garbarek and drummer Michael DiPasqua, Weber devised new living beings from bare bones. The result was breathtaking.
As is Encore. This time, Weber changes up the formula just enough by inviting Dutch flugelhornist Ack van Rooyen to be his sole collaborator. (Van Rooyen played on Weber’s ECM leader debut, 1974’s The Colours of Chloë.) On 13 new tracks, each bearing the name of the European city in which Weber laid down the original solo, the pair reaches for a sonic sublimity and roundness of sound that could not have been possible emanating from a lone double bass in a live setting.
In “Frankfurt,” the opener, Weber’s subtle keyboard colorings hover beneath van Rooyen’s euphonic, measured solo, the bass functioning traditionally; it’s only toward the end, as the flugelhorn breaks away into something more impulsively brash, that one remembers there are only two people responsible for all this music. “Edinburgh” is a different vibe altogether: airy, meditative, approaching the orchestral yet resolutely percussive. Even when the flugelhorn sits things out, Weber achieves colossal breadth. In “Granada,” simultaneously working both the highest and lowest notes of his instrument, he fills all of the space surrounding him, a virtual one-man bass band. Weber is now saying that this could be his final release. But as long as there are more solos in the vaults to be tapped, and his imagination remains intact, it need not be.