The release of Eberhard Weber’s box-set Colours could not come at a better time. Set for January 19, the collection will appear just three days prior to his seventieth birthday. For those of us who have been rooting for Eberhard since his stroke in 2008, this collection is a wonderful reminder of a particularly fertile time in the renowned bassist’s career.
Colours is the eponymous title of this three-disc affair, and consists of the original three ECM albums by the Weber-led quartet. The first Colours album, Yellow Fields, appeared in 1975. It was followed by Silent Feet in 1977, and the final Little Movements album in 1980.
The name Colours is a nod to the seminal solo album Eberhard recorded in 1973, The Colours Of Chloë. This was a stylistic breakthrough, not only for Eberhard Weber, but for the nascent Edition of Contemporary Music (ECM) record label as well. Combining elements of the emerging European new music, the minimalism of composers such as Steve Reich, and his own interest in jazz, Weber delivered a landmark LP. With The Colours Of Chloë, Eberhard virtually defined what came to be known as the “ECM Sound” for many years to come.
When Eberhard decided to form a permanent quartet in 1975, he chose Colours as the moniker. The group originally consisted of Charlie Mariano (sax), Rainer Brüninghaus (keyboards), and Jon Christensen (drums). At this point Weber was playing an ingenious, modified stand-up bass that he called the “electrobass". Coupled with his remarkable dexterity and madly inventive playing, the addition of another C string gave his instrument one of the most unique sounds ever.
This is apparent in the opening moments of “Touch,” the lead track from Colours’ debut, Yellow Fields. It is a very inviting tune, and a great introduction to the band. But it is “Sand-Glass” that best shows the strengths of this group. Clocking in at 15:31, the song provides multiple opportunities for individual members to shine. They certainly do not disappoint. The composition tells an engaging story, journeying down multiple musical paths, and yet never meandering into irrelevancy.
Side two of the original LP consisted of two pieces: “Yellow Fields” (10:04) and “Left Lane” (13:37). As may be deduced by the extended times, there is again ample room for the group to branch out. “Yellow Fields” is the most traditionally “jazz” cut on the record.
“Left Lane” is something completely different. It is an amazing collaborative effort. The musician’s comments on each others' playing throughout this song is so organic, you lose sight of who is playing what. It becomes an absolutely brilliant conversation