Release date: January 26, 2004
While Eberhard Weber was as fine a composer as he was a bassist, his entry into :rarumterritory pays tribute to his latter capacity in some of ECM’s most significant productions. It all begins with 1975’s Solstice, which may just be the most frequently referenced album in all of the label’s compilations. Throughout “Nimbus,” in combination with Jon Christensen on drums and Ralph Towner on 12-string guitar, he gives saxophonist Jan Garbarek more than enough thermals to glide without so much as a momentary fear of falling. It’s equally comforting to hear him as an interpreter of Pat Metheny, whose “Oasis” (Watercolors, 1977) and “The Whopper” (Passengers, 1977) benefit from the synovial fluid of his bassing. Here, as in almost any context in which we might encounter him, Weber’s tone is never merely supportive but rather a foregrounded actor. This is particularly true of his collaborations with Garbarek. Whether in the traveling song of “Gesture” (Wayfarer, 1983) or the scrolled landscapes of “Her Wild Ways” (RITES, 1998), his presence is felt even when he isn’t playing.
We do, of course, get plenty of Weber’s composing to chew on, working our way from the title track of 1978’s Silent Feet to “French Diary” from 2001’s Endless Days. In either bookend, the pianism of Rainer Brüninghaus is like that of Lyle Mays to Metheny: which is to say, the cloud to every drop of rain. The second tune is especially wide in scope and a personal favorite for feeling like Weber despite its lack of bass. On the road between, he rideshares with guitarist Bill Frisell and vibraphonist Gary Burton on 1979’s Fluid Rustle, as well as with Paul McCandless (soprano saxophone) and Michael DiPasqua (drums) on “Maurizius” from 1982’s Later That Evening. In these contexts, arpeggios are life itself and allow him to exhale with assurance in “Closing Scene” from 1993’s Pendulum. This raga-like meditation for multitracked basses is a morning glory opening and closing to the rhythm of the day—for if anything, Weber’s is a circadian sound, attuned to shifts of light beneath the sky of a grander order.