Artist: Pat Metheny and Friends
Album: Hommage à Eberhard Weber
Release Date: 09/11/2015
The idea behind this concert was pretty simple, but in the process to its execution it became daring, substantial and extraordinarily impressive. A visionary double bassist and composer, Eberhard Weber was a mainstay on ECM, the progressive jazz record label that thrived in the 1970s and 80s. Guitarist Pat Metheny, also with ECM at the outset of his career and an equally bold composer and performer, had often worked with Weber in the day, and considers him a mentor. Metheny was commissioned to write a piece in tribute to his friend, who can no longer play following a stroke. He ran with the idea of course, writing the half-hour title suite in no time at all, and then organizing the concert to perform it, and several Weber pieces, with an exceptional jazz band and the 18-member SWR Big Band. Altogether, they’re quite an orchestra. But the real kicker is something that can only be imagined here. Metheny cut and spliced archival video “samples” of the man of the hour playing along on a screen behind the stage, creating a first-of-a-kind montage and dual performance. Jan Garbarek’s ethereal sax and Scott Colley’s pleading bass lines dominate the opening “Resume Variations,” eight minutes of hypnotic brilliance that builds a sturdy bridge to the main event. “Hommage” is ultra-vintage Pat Metheny, cut perfectly by his sheer adventurousness. Metheny fans will be beside themselves listening to it, with all its incredibly engaging Metheny statements, and its surge. The beauty of Gary Burton on vibes, and Danny Gottlieb’s sticks mastery, add to a feeling like watching a bird: soaring, settling, skittish, playful, imposing, grand, vulnerable, flaunting and mightily impressive in its presence. And on it goes. I’ve listened many times to this album, and rarely have I made it all the way through, because I keep going backwards. An unmitigated joy for all of its seventy minutes.