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Thursday, December 26, 2002

Review - Little Movements

Artist: Eberhard Weber

Posted on Thu, Dec 26, 2002 at 4:00 AM

German bassist Eberhard Weber confounded the world when he released "The Colours Of Chloë" in 1974. The album introduced his "Colours" ensemble, but more importantly, the album displayed a highly unique sound that drew in equal parts from contemporary European classical composition and from jazz improvisation. That album -- and the other Colours albums that followed -- were spacious meditations on sound that allowed the players plenty of room to stretch out. Part of ECM's revolutionary mid-'70s repertoire, it was the sound of artists like Weber that made "jazz" sound utterly modern and adventurous without meandering into squishy pop-fusion. By 1980 however, both ECM and Weber seemed to have run out of creative steam. The label had stagnated and many of its artists were recycling the same concepts over and over (or, worse, trying to cash in on the fuzak craze). Weber, seeing the likelihood of Colours going down that same road, decided to disband the group. But not before releasing an excellent bookend to "Chloë" in the form of "Little Movements." With soprano player Charlie Mariano, piano/synth player Rainer Brüninghaus and drummer John Marshall, Weber creates an exquisite, exploratory space for the listener, relying on compositional restraint to get the point across. Though "Bali" veers perilously close to becoming a bad chardonnay hangover (due largely to some cornball riffing by Mariano), the album as a whole is a fitting close to a stunning episode in jazz history.

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