Release date: April 1, 1985
Our tenth stop along the “Works” railway attests to the unique attunement of Eberhard Weber’s talents as bassist and composer to the ECM universe. In the former capacity, he contributed an unmistakable style to myriad recordings as sideman, and by the time of this compilation had already established an indelible footprint. A particularly evocative example comes to us by way of guitarist Ralph Towner’s 1975 masterpiece, Solstice. In the track “Sand,” Weber’s cello and bass render textures of glass, water, and stone alike. Jan Garbarek’s soprano saxophone is a seagull crying overhead as Towner’s 12-string laps the shore with phases of time and Jon Christensen’s colorful percussion sets Weber coolly aflame.
Even more substantial offerings are to be found in Weber’s own work as leader, as in “More Colours” from his 1974 debut, The Colours Of Chloë. Over the cellos of the Stuttgart Südfunk Symphony Orchestra, he paints with his own cello like a water droplet hitting the water in time-lapse sequence. The piano of Rainer Brüninghaus traces the ripples of its disappearance, as if to carve its memory in mindful stone. It’s a configuration echoed in “Moana II” (The Following Morning, 1977), in which Weber’s bass, in search of a beat, finds only electroacoustic expanse. Further colors abound in 1978’s Yellow Fields, of which “Touch” evokes the blush of first love through the lenses of Charlie Mariano (soprano saxophone), Brüninghaus (keyboards), and Christensen (drums). The music is parthenogenetic and eternal, spotlighting Mariano’s purposeful lines and Christensen’s blinding cymbal work. From the light to the night, we find ourselves endowed with “Eyes That Can See In The Dark.” Interpreted by the same instrumentation, though now with John Marshall replacing Christensen, this masterpiece from 1978’s Silent Feet is easily one of Weber’s crowning achievements for its joyful register. “A Dark Spell,” from 1980’s Little Movements, continues in that vein. Its explosion of piano and cymbals sets up a smooth ride across flatter terrain, as Weber’s fluid bass and Brüninghaus’s pianism glide—sometimes crossing paths, sometimes in parallel—toward a groovy, dramatic finish.
Perhaps more than any other of the “Works” series, this one shows the evolution not only of an artist in his prime but also of music itself at a watershed moment in recorded history, traced in the orthography of a label unafraid to open the very doors it builds.