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Ximo Tebar: Eclipse

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Ximo Tebar could easily win over fans of contemporary, chops-heavy jazz. The Spanish guitarist flies gracefully across his fretboard with quick imagination and a clean sound. Drummer Donald Edwards helps establish the mood as he regularly dodges and parries around the straightforward grooves of bassists Anthony Jackson or Cesar Giner. The exception to the bassist’s role comes in the blistering “Ralladura,” which requires Giner to stay neck-and-neck with the guitarist.

At the same time, Tebar reveals a musical depth that encompasses pre-fusion stylings. Eclipse is bookended by readings of Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge” and Oscar Pettiford’s “Tricotism.” In between, the original “My Evidence” mashes the chord changes of “Giant Steps” with the stop-start rhythm of “Evidence.” A clever concept, especially with vibist Dave Samuels putting in one of many solid appearances on the album, the song nevertheless feels a little too slick. Also heading into smooth territory are two Wayne Shorter tunes (“E.S.P.” and “Pinocchio”) which get marred when Tebar scats along with his guitar. It’s a remarkable skill, but it distracts from the music. Tebar, who has played with Joey DeFrancesco and Dr. Lonnie Smith, just needs to strike a balance between the flash of his current approach and the immediacy of the music that preceded it.