Eberhard Weber: Chorus (ECM 1288)

 

Eberhard Weber
Chorus

Eberhard Weber bass, synthesizer
Jan Garbarek soprano and tenor saxophones
Ralf Hübner drums
Recorded September 1984 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg
Engineer: Martin Wieland
Produced by Manfred Eicher

One might easily switch the title of Eberhard Weber’s Chorus with that of Fluid Rustle and none would be the wiser. Where the latter brims with voices and color, this relatively monochromatic effort is more like a shift of clothing in the shadows. Until this point, Weber’s ECM projects had been inclined toward epic statements. These ranged from overwhelmingly sun-drenched reveries (The Following Morning) to moonlit fields of introspection (Later That Evening). With the release of Chorus, however, Weber reached a new level of intimacy. Joined only by Jan Garbarek on soprano and tenor saxophones and Ralf Hübner (one of Germany’s most important jazz drummers), Weber pares his sonic brush for a new kind of script.

Over the course of seven unnamed parts, we find all the staples of the Weber experience. The, yes, fluid electro-bass and synth drone of Part I will be familiar to the Weber enthusiast, only here we encounter something quite different. Where before these territories engulfed us, now they are painted inside us. Similarly, every note from Weber’s bass in Part II is a ripple that finds only slight resistance from our inner walls as it expands toward the oncoming night, but ever with the dawn in mind. Garbarek floats his gorgeous lines one drop at a time, melting through the doublings of Parts III and IV and on to the arco strains of Part V. This scribbled palette cleanser slides into the pulsing depths of Part VI. Here the band achieves something special, making for the suite’s most powerful nodes of emotion. The final part eases us into a lovely thread of electric piano that makes this one of Weber’s most perfect constructions and beyond reason enough to own the album.

As I revisit Chorus for this review, the police sirens loudening and fading outside my window remind me of the transformative power of its music, which makes of those sirens a bird of light screaming across the canvas of the sky. Like the fade on which it ends, it leaves its body behind—a kite cut from its string which, instead of falling, continues floating ever higher until it burns quietly in the sun.

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