Tonight Show's most dangerous guitarist

Spiritalk 2: Revelations (Blue Note)
Kevin Eubanks

By John Goodin

Kevin Eubanks is doing good work.

Spiritalk2 is the most recent installment in a series of recordings that feature Eubanks' many gifts. Composer, arranger, bandleader, monster guitar player: all these add up to Major Talent.

If this is your first exposure to Eubanks' recent work, you can have the pleasure of digging up its predecessors. Take the core of drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith and bassist Dave Holland. Hear their work on Holland's 1989 record Extensions. Add alto flutist Kent Jordan to the group for Eubanks' 1992 debut on Blue Note, Turning Point. Complete the group with the trombone playing of brother Robin Eubanks on 1993's Spirit Talk and watch it grow.

These recordings all feature uncompromising creative music, far from what Eubanks produces on his day job as leader of Jay Leno's Tonight Show orchestra. They contain music of great intensity, not great volume. The music is beautiful and unbridled, tender and full of excitement.

The references to John McLaughlin and especially to Holland's Gateway trio with John Abercrombie and Jack DeJohnette are clear, but Eubanks is making his own way. The energy and inventiveness of all the players is a delight to hear. Miss this band at your own risk.