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.
Kevin Tyrone Eubanks is an American jazz and fusion guitarist and composer who was the leader of The Tonight Show Band with host Jay Leno from 1995 to 2010. He also led the Primetime Band on the short-lived The Jay Leno Show. His first album as a leader, Guitarist, was released on the Elektra label when Kevin was 25. It documented a sophisticated, nuanced voice on the instrument, and was graced by the presence of some peers who are still performing with him today: tenor saxophonist Ralph Moore,(Tonight Show Band member) and his brother Robin. Kevin’s cousins, the late bassist David Eubanks and the pianist Charles Eubanks, also appeared on the recording, which was so well received that it lead to a seven record recording contract with the GRP label, owend by Dave Grusin and the late Larry Rosen.
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.
Guitarists Stanley Jordan and Kevin Eubanks team up for the 2015 Mack Avenue release Duets. An intimate, relaxed album, Duets features the esteemed journeyman artists playing both acoustic and electric instruments on a handful of classic standards, originals, and newer pop tunes. Rather than a cutting session, Duets works more as a laid-back conversation in which both musicians revel in the warmth of each other's sound. While they share a similar style, favoring a clean, unaffected approach to the guitar, there are enough differences in each player's sounds to easily distinguish them on a given track.
Kevin Eubanks' first album with a string section is a triumph of good taste, both in the guitarist's gently swinging work and in GRP chief Dave Grusin's unobtrusive, intelligent, unsentimental string charts. Grusin's gorgeously recorded strings seem to seep into the texture, filling the spaces with just enough mortar. The backings alternate between an electric group – with Marcus Miller on bass and Grusin applying the Yamaha DX7 electric piano sound – and often just Ron Carter on acoustic bass (plus the strings, of course).
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.
The Messenger is a project that reflects not only the guitarist’s virtuosity on his instrument, but also his impressive compositional skills—writing all but two tracks. Best described simply as a “Kevin Eubanks” recording—without specific categorization—as his intent with The Messenger is to communicate the breadth of his artistic influences.