Trumpeter Duane Eubanks isn’t yet as well known as his brothers (trombonist Robin and guitarist Kevin), but his highly listenable album, Things Of A Particular Nature, should mitigate his under-the-radar status. This Philadelphia native is a top-notch musician, having fronted the horn section in the late pianist Mulgrew Miller’s group, Wingspan, and as a member of two-time Grammy-winning Dave Holland Big Band, while playing with many others.
He’s such a solid performer, with a tone so sweet and clear, that you wish he could have put out more records during the ten-year gap since his previous solo effort. Timing seems to be everything for Eubanks, and certainly his time is now.
Things is a state-of-the-art modern jazz recording, deeply grounded in swing and vigorously performed by Eubanks and his all-star band—the smooth-toned tenor saxophonist Abraham Burton, pianist Marc Cary, bassist Dezron Douglas, drummer Eric McPherson, and the incomparable Steve Nelson on vibraphone. Artfully co-produced with his wife, Aleta Eubanks and McPherson, the record serves up a feast of Eubanks originals and a lovely ballad track written by Miller.
This stout group floods your ears with fine sounds throughout, starting with “Purple, Blue, and Red,” a hot swing track of fast grooves and absorbing solos. There’s a warm slice of soul-jazz (“Rosey”) and plenty of razor-sharp improvisation (the finger-popping “As Is” and “P”). A spontaneous, brief, in-the-studio moment, “Anywhere’s Paradise,” fades in and out as a mysterious yet sure-footed blues, with a beautiful melody that recalls Herbie Hancock’s exotic tune, “Mimosa.” It’s a tease that leaves us wanting more.
“Dance with Aleta” is a true highlight, an acoustic thrill, full of good feeling and swing. Obviously, Mrs. Eubanks doesn’t deserve less, but ultimately it’s Duane Eubanks that you’ll be hooked on.
The live recording session of “Dance with Aleta”:
This article is from the March 2015 edition of ICON Magazine, the only publication in the Greater Delaware Valley and beyond solely devoted to coverage of music, fine and performing arts, pop culture, and entertainment. More Information.