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Eberhard Weber: The Jubilee Concert

German bassist Eberhard Weber, closely identified with the ECM sound, has long been appreciated for his unique voice as an instrumentalist, playing a custom-designed five-string electric-acoustic upright, and as a composer, employing various strains of chamber jazz, new music, contemporary classical and avant-minded material. Weber’s legacy, including a measurable impact on European jazz, was celebrated in grand style early last year with a pair of concerts in his hometown of Stuttgart. There, the master musician, unable to perform since suffering a stroke in 2007, celebrated his 75th birthday with a stage full of guests, including several former collaborators.

The centerpiece of the program is Pat Metheny’s “Hommage,” an ambitious 31-minute composition based on video recordings of two of Weber’s extended improvisations from the ’80s, and performed by Metheny with the SWR Big Band. We see and hear a younger Weber on the big screen, his line then doubled by guest bassist Scott Colley, and the guitarist enters with a melody built on the honoree’s original improv. The long piece is marked by mixed emotional colors, call-and-response sections between Weber’s bass and blasts from the brass section, a synth-guitar exploration and an open solo by drummer Danny Gottlieb, returned to the Metheny fold after more than 30 years.

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