Next month ECM release for the first time an Eberhard Weber recording called Once Upon a Time: Live in Avignon dating to 1994. Listen to the deeply inspiring 'Pendulum' from the release. It's a gigantic sound, quite moving in a number of ways and always captures your full engagement as a listener, and one that still takes the breath away.
By way of a little colour and background sometimes you only get a short time with an artist for an interview. And so that was the case back in the 1990s when I sat down in a central London hotel with the double bassist for a short piece subsequently run in a magazine called Jazz on CD around at the time and for which I worked for a few years.
At that time I only knew Weber's name from first looking at a poster going upstairs from the cafe to the jazz club Akwarium opposite the palace of culture in Warsaw a few years earlier and started catching up on his back catalogue. The slightly torn but beautifully designed and by then thoroughly out-of-date graphic had caught my eye as I climbed the stairs. It was as random and lucky as that.
Before the Internet really took hold and when these memories date to there was a fad for ''multimedia'' magazines across specialist music genres with CDs glued to the cover. You simply could not ahead of release, apart from this method at the time or if by some fluke a radio show was allowed to broadcast a track, unlike now check out the music as you read articles side by side and even then sometimes the tracks were not referred to within the mag depending on the compilation theme.
It's a much better situation nowadays to immerse yourself completely in journalistic material regarding music you as a consumer are interested in with both descriptive and analytical words, video and music doing their different things. Weber, one of the giants of German jazz known far beyond Europe and a pioneer of solo bass concerts, I then heard in a concert on the South Bank. I think it was the first solo bass concert, the effect very similar to this Avignon track, that I had ever attended. These are still very rare to behold even today. It struck me despite the highly depopulated stage personnel (a very different kind of finding the ''one'' was not hard!) as very varied compositionally, with ingenious use of the technology current then, Weber looping back and forth, using echo and delay very creatively without it sounding contrived at all so he could improvise in real time.
Back in the 90s I also saw Weber perform a few times in Jan Garbarek's great quartet with Marilyn Mazur and Rainer Brüninghaus, probably one of the greatest bands I have ever witnessed (particularly a concert at the Jazz Jamboree festival in Warsaw).
Finally listen again to the last recording of Lyle Mays released in the summer, a beautiful tribute to Weber, fittingly titled 'Eberhard'. Mays was a master of space and finder of that unique, unrepeatable, moment in time, and in that just like Weber. SG