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Artist Spotlight Kevin Eubanks

Discussion in 'Contemporary Jazz and Beyond' started by Rudy, May 28, 2015.

  1. Rudy

    Rudy ♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♫♪♪ Staff Member

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    In 2010, Eubanks signed with Mack Avenue Records, releasing his first album in 16 years: Zen Food. In the interim, he was the musical director for The Tonight Show, starring Jay Leno. Prior to that, he had recorded several albums for GRP records, and a few for Blue Note. His most recent solo recording is The Messenger, also on Mack Ave., and the duet album Duets with label mate Stanley Jordan was released this year (2015).

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Despite some of his work at GRP, which could drift into "lite" jazz at times, he's had some really good albums throughout the years. One that is regarded as one of his finest (and is also one of my favorites) is Opening Night on GRP, which features Branford Marsalis and Kenny Kirkland in supporting roles. ​

    Once he finished his GRP contract, he hopped over to Blue Note and recorded Turning Point, which is another of my favorites. In one fell swoop, it's as though he leapfrogged every album post-Opening Night and recorded a worthy follow-up in a similar style. The tunes aren't quite as accessible, but his already considerable technique had grown quite a bit, and there isn't a bad track on the album. He followed that up with a mellow live set, Live at Bradley's, in a trio configuration with piano and bass, and released the two Spiritalk volumes after.

    When he recorded Zen Food, he was on the verge of departing the Tonight Show. I'm happy to say that this newer album picks up where he left off--the musicianship and his playing in particular are top notch, as are the tunes. I lucked out in getting this one on 180 gram vinyl, one of the few that Mack Ave. released in that format. And it sounds wonderful.

    As I began writing this, I was listening to his Electra/Musician debut album, Guitarist. Even though a couple of the tracks sound dated in an early 80s way, the lead-off track "Novice Bounce" is signature Eubanks all the way. In fact, some of the licks were reused in the track "Songhouse" from the Shadow Prophets album.

    Does anyone else here have any favorite Eubanks tracks or albums to share?
     
  2. jazzbill

    jazzbill Maitre d' Forums Staff Member

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    I have one LP of his called Opening Night that I haven't listened to for a long time. I remember it being an okay album but it didn't really blow me away. I should pull it out and give it another spin.


    Bill
     
  3. Rudy

    Rudy ♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♫♪♪ Staff Member

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    That is regarded as one of his best. I like that it lets his unique style through without covering it up with a lot of fluff, as some of his later GRP albums did. You might like Turning Point a bit more, his first album on Blue Note. It is like a more developed, more accomplished version of Opening Night, and I believe it is mostly a trio recording. I'm not near it to look, but I think Marvin "Smitty" Smith is drumming on that one.
     
  4. Rudy

    Rudy ♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♫♪♪ Staff Member

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    Kevin Eubanks trivia: Kevin's uncle, on his mother's side, is jazz pianist and composer Ray Bryant. Eubanks' mother is Vera (Bryant) Eubanks, a renowned gospel organist and singer. Duane and Robin Eubanks are, of course, Kevin's brothers who also perform jazz.

    Ray Bryant's best-known song is likely the hit single "The Madison Time," which accompanied a popular dance back in the day. The dance calls are by DJ Eddie Morrison.

    Here is a clip of the Madison dance, supposedly as originally choreographed back in the late 1950s. The tune and dance also appeared in a 1980s film, "Hairspray."

    Hit it!



    Maynard Ferguson recorded his own version of the dance on Roulette, "Doin' The Madison."
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
  5. jazzbill

    jazzbill Maitre d' Forums Staff Member

    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    I didn't know he was related to Ray Bryant. I'm very aware of Robin Eubanks. I used to have chats with Robin when JJ Johnson was still around and there was a Yahoo forum for JJ that Robin would be on. Robin's Wake Up Call is a great CD!
     
  6. LASaxman

    LASaxman Active Member

    I must confess I don't remember that, although I'm old enough. If you'd asked me I would have said his best known song was "Slow Freight".
     
  7. Rudy

    Rudy ♪♫♪♫♫♪♪♫♪♪ Staff Member

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    The song is a little before my time, but the 50s channel on XM Radio used to play it. I believe it charted on Billboard.
     

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