Joining Eubanks on this stellar outing are longtime collaborator and former Berklee College of Music schoolmate, drummer Marvin Smitty Smith, who fuels the West Coast outfit alongside seasoned session bassist Rene Camacho, percussionist Mino Cinelu and saxophonist Bill Pierce. Smith s East Coast counterpart on this bi-coastal session is the irrepressibly swinging Jeff Tain Watts, a force of nature on the kit who combines with bassist Dave Holland, Philadelphia-based pianist Orrin Evans and New York trumpeter Nicholas Payton for a potent lineup. Together these great musicians bring out the best in Eubanks six-string prowess and ignite his searching instincts throughout the sessions in Los Angeles and New York.
Shadow Prophets was a marked improvement over The Heat of Heat, but it was obvious that GRP was trying desperately to find a niche for Kevin Eubanks. Despite a distinctive guitar style and an endless stream of ideas, Eubanks was again being molded in the same style as George Benson (the pop version). The inclusion of Mark Ledford also indicates an effort to ride the Pat Metheny wave that was so popular on contemporary radio stations at this time.
This intriguing set features percussionist Mino Cinelu with Kevin Eubanks (on acoustic guitar) and bassist Dave Holland. They perform four Eubanks songs, three by Holland, and two from Cinelu, music that ranges from exotic sounds to light and creative funk grooves. It is quite intriguing hearing Eubanks sticking exclusively to his acoustic guitar and Cinelu adds plenty of catchy yet unpredictable rhythms. However, Holland often takes solo honors and he usually holds the group together with his authoritative and flexible sound. Very interesting music that's worth listening to closely several times.
If heat is the process of energy transfer from one body to another, then that is what Kevin Eubanks has set out to do with velvety guitar sounds that will rub you the right way. Familiar to millions of viewers nightly as the leader of Jay Leno's Tonight Show Band, Eubanks creates this generation's finest creative jazz tunes on The Heat of Heat. Dreamy and memorizing, Eubanks creates an odyssey, with him leading the way, that compels you to dance, twirl, evoke your inner sexuality.
Two years after releasing the original Spiritalk, Kevin Eubanks reunites the same group of musicians for another collection of organic fusion compositions. Drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith, regardless of what one might think of him in general, simply smokes in situations like this. He is absolutely unchained, playing with the energy (and seemingly the limbs) of two or more men. Smith and Eubanks interact like McLaughlin and Cobham, or Morse and Morgenstein.
Turning Point is a highly appropriate title for this album. After recording his share of commercial fluff for GRP, Kevin Eubanks switched to Blue Note with this heartfelt CD and strived for excellence instead of going out of his way to avoid it. Creativity, personal improvising, and spontaneity are main ingredients of the album, which unites the talented electric and acoustic guitarist with bass explorer Dave Holland and drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith, among others. Like so much intellectual jazz, Point requires several listenings in order to be fully appreciated.
This album, issued in the wake of the stir caused by the Young Lions compilation album on Elektra Musician, is a first-rate mix of originals and standards beautifully executed by a group of studio players who include brothers Robin Eubanks on trombone, Charles on acoustic piano, and David on bass along with tenor saxophonist Ralph Moore and drummer Ronnie Burrage. Eubanks' choice of covers is brave; from Thelonious Monk's "Evidence" and Miles Davis' "Blue in Green" to Wes Montgomery's "The Thumb" and Jerome Kern's "Yesterdays," he offers not only chops, but a keen ear for nuance and subtlety. The treatment of Monk's "Evidence" is particularly satisfying for retaining the pianist/composer's angles without sacrificing the swing quotient. Likewise, his solo reading of "The Thumb" is played with great taste, offering no show-off pyrotechnics, yet he interprets the tune for the present day. Eubanks' own tunes, such as "Inner-Vision" with Moore, Burrage, and David, are shaped and informed by not only jazz but soul and blues without falling into crossover cliche. This is a fine first effort. [After being out of print for a decade on CD, Guitarist was reissued by Wounded Bird in 2004.] ~ Thom Jurek, All Music Guide
Eubanks, Cinelu, and the sublime Dave Holland achieve Vulcan mind-meld status as an ensemble on this spirited, swinging collection of acoustic guitar, bass, and percussion grooves. If you're a fan of albums like Tim Sparks' luminous "Tanz" on the Tzaddik label, you must get this. If you're a Holland enthusiast, you will supremely dig Holland's super-muscular virtuosity here. If you know nothing about Eubanks other than his "Tonight Show" gig (I mean, whatever), prepare to be astounded by his fine taste, depth, and fluid imagination. This is a superb record! * amazon.