Eberhard Weber (born 22 January 1940, in Stuttgart, Germany) is a German double bassist and composer. As a bass player, he is known for his highly distinctive tone and phrasing. Weber’s compositions blend chamber jazz, European classical music, minimalism and ambient music, and are regarded as characteristic examples of the ECM Records sound.
Weber began recording in the early 1960s, and released The Colours of Chloë (ECM 1042), his first record under his own name, in 1973. In addition to his career as a musician, he also worked for many years as a television and theater director. He has designed an electric-acoustic bass with an additional string tuned to C.
Weber’s music, often in a melancholic tone, frequently utilizes ostinatos, yet is highly organized in its colouring and attention to detail. He was an early proponent of the solid-body electric double bass, which he has played regularly since the early 1970s.
From the early 1960s to the early 1970s, Weber’s closest musical association was with pianist Wolfgang Dauner. Their many mutual projects were diverse, from mainstream jazz to jazz-rock fusion to avant-garde sound experiments. During this period, Weber also played and recorded with pianists Hampton Hawes and Mal Waldron, guitarists Baden Powell de Aquino and Joe Pass, The Mike Gibbs Orchestra, violinist Stephane Grappelli, and many others.
Starting with The Colours of Chloë, Weber has released 13 more records under his own name, all on ECM. The ECM association also led to collaborations with other ECM recording artists such as Gary Burton (Ring, 1974; Passengers, 1976), Ralph Towner (Solstice, 1975; Solstice/Sound and Shadows, 1977), Pat Metheny (Watercolors, 1977), and Jan Garbarek (10 recordings between 1978 and 1998).
In the mid-1970s Weber formed his own group, Colours, with Charlie Mariano (soprano saxophone, flutes), Rainer Brüninghaus (piano, synthesizer) and Jon Christensen (drums). After their first recording, Yellow Fields (1975), Christensen left and was replaced by John Marshall. The group toured extensively and recorded two further records, Silent Feet (1977) and Little Movements (1980), before disbanding.
Since the early 1980s, Weber has regularly collaborated with the British singer-songwriter Kate Bush, playing on four of her last six studio albums (The Dreaming, 1982; Hounds of Love, 1985; The Sensual World, 1989; Aerial, 2005).
During the 1980s, Weber toured with Barbara Thompson’s jazz ensemble Paraphernalia.
Since 1990, Weber’s touring has been limited, and he has had only two new recordings under his own name: The 2001 release Endless Days is an elemental fusion of jazz and classical music flavors, fitting well the moniker chamber jazz. His main touring activity during that period was as a regular member of the Jan Garbarek Group. On the occasion of his 65th birthday, in March, 2005 he recorded Stages of a Long Journey, a live concert with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and featuring Gary Burton, Wolfgang Dauner and Jan Garbarek. In 2009 ECM also re-released his albums Yellow Fields, Silent Feet and Little Movements as a 3-CD collection titled “Colours”.
In 2007, Weber suffered a stroke and was subsequently unable to perform. In a January 2010 interview with Die Welt, he spoke about his medical condition and future projects.
Weber was awarded the prestigious Albert Mangelsdorff-Preis in November 2009. A box set of his 1970s works was released by ECM Records the same month.
Weber’s latest albums, Résumé (2012) and Encore (2015) comprise solos from his performances worldwide with The Jan Garbarek Group, overdubbed with keyboards/treatments by Weber, sax by Garbarek, and flügelhorn by Ack Van Rooyen.
His autobiography, Résumé, was published in 2015. An English translation by Heidi Kirk – Eberhard Weber: A German Jazz Story – is due to be published in October 2021.
This is his last album (recored live in 1994)
“I played jazz for over fifty years, but I’m incapable of describing what is so fascinating about this music.”
Since a stroke has sadly stopped Weber from playing the double bass, this album is a concert from 1994. Of the seven tracks six are by Weber, the seventh is the jazz standard “My Favorite Things”. This set once again shows Weber’s dexterity on the double bass along with his skills as a composer. Recorded and mixed to high standards, the clarity and warmth of Weber’s bass is solidly to the fore.
The compositions range from an earlier great solo bass album, “Pendulum”, plus a fairly recent album, “Orchestra”. The first track, “Pendulum”, sets the tone for the album. Weber alone with his bass is simply stunning–the intensity, the dexterity–come together for a fine version of this tune. The lengthiest composition here (12 + minutes), “Trio For Bassoon And Bass” , is played on such a high plane of musicality, it’s hard to find words to describe what Weber has created here. If the word “Bassoon” worries you about what you’ll hear–forget that–it’s Weber out front on bass from beginning to end with subtle accompaniment on tape.
“Ready Out There” has Weber playing up tempo which frankly is another showstopper of a performance. The clarity of each plucked note at a rapid pace and the musicality is astounding. “Silent For A While” is closest to that “ECM sound”–atmospheric, and open sounding–showing another side of his playing. “Delirium” is a very musical composition which Weber handles with consummate ability–the double bass has seldom (except for Weber) sounded so musical and complete in a solo performance.
“My Favorite Things” is arranged a bit differently to what most people are familiar with. Using the very catchy melody Weber infuses it with his own interpretation, again with the aid of subtle tape accompaniment. But once again, it’s Weber out front plucking his bass, even bowing a bit to good effect. The last tune, “Air”, is the shortest thing here (3:47) , but it’s impact is as great as anything here. It was a great way to end this beautiful album of introspective, yet searching music on an instrument many people dismiss as a solo instrument.
As with most ECM releases, there’s no liner notes in the booklet except for a track list and recording information, along with a small photo of Weber. The jewel case slips into a cardboard slipcase which has a painting by Weber’s wife, Maja. And if by some chance you’re a Weber fan, look for the book “Eberhard Weber A German Jazz Story”, which is an autobiography which includes occasional b&w photos. (Stuart Jefferson)
Recorded live at the Théâtre Des Halles, Avignon/France, August 1994
Eberhard Weber (bass)
01. Pendulum 6.13
02. Trio For Bassoon And Bass 12.24
03. Ready Out There 5.10
04. Silent For A While 6.05
05. Delirium 7.10
06. My Favorite Things 5.12
07. Air 3.16
Music by Eberhard Weber,
except on 06. by Richard Rodgers