Charles Eubanks

New Beginnings

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New Beginnings represents Detroit-based pianist Charles Eubanks' debut as a leader. Born in 1948, Eubanks trekked to the upstate New York compound of CIMP to lay down these tracks, which amply demonstrate how much music listeners have been missing. (Eubanks is no more than a distant cousin to the Eubanks family that includes David, Robin, and Kevin.) Eubanks has shaped a distinctive style that's informed by the entire tradition of jazz piano. Unlike most others who have similar historic inclinations, Eubanks' work is seamless. The key is his left hand, with which he lays down loose, rugged patterns that have the punch of bop and the strut of stride. The ballad "Heartsong," with its rich arpeggiated undertones, evolves into a joyous gospel tune. "Cops-Spots" has more bite and "Tiago" is tango-scented. The four cover tunes are the briefest pieces, and demonstrate Eubanks' command of rather than subservience to the tradition. The way he gets to heart of these pieces in so few strokes shows that he's thoroughly absorbed them. He negotiates the chordal maze of Coltrane's "Countdown" freely, his lines soaring above the tune's harmonic obstacles. It's a fierce reading. The recording quality is exemplary, and fully captures the range and nuance of the nine-foot grand piano and the kaleidoscope of colors Eubanks draws from it.

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