Robin Eubanks and Mental Image: Get 2 It
Music of lasting value seems to transcend time and place. In other words, if it has eternal worth it will sound as fresh ten or twenty years down the road as it did the day it was recorded. You can't say that about a lot of the jazz that has been documented over the past twenty years or so. In an attempt to make this all relevant to the disc at hand, let us think about the M-Base movement which found folks like Greg Osby, Steve Coleman, and Robin Eubanks exploring a fusion of avant and funk sensibilities in the early '80s. Today, that music seems dated and one-dimensional. Still, its implications seem to resonate in some of the founding artists' current endeavors, including Robin Eubanks' Get 2 It, his initial effort for his own REM label and first solo set in some two years.
A veteran of the bands of Art Blakey, Dave Holland and Elvin Jones, Eubanks comes up with a sort of hit or miss proposition on Get 2 It. Although he seems to be totally jazzed by his new research in attaching electronics to his bone, it's a sound that wears out its welcome rather quickly. Of the four tracks to feature his electric trombone, only 'Blues For Jimi' really seems to come off with some degree of success. But hey, it's hard to mess up the blues and George Colligan's organ spot adds a nice bit of local color to boot. Elsewhere, like on Wayne Shorter's 'House of Jade,' the whole electric thing is just downright annoying. Same too for the over bloated vocals on the title track, which would otherwise be a throwaway without Eubanks' fine acoustic moments.
The more straight-ahead cuts also prove to be the most satisfying. 'Cross Currents' effortlessly skirts between various meters as boss Dave Holland and band mate Billy Kilson hold down the fort with assurance. The funk groove of 'Metamorphos' stirs up quite a froth as it also initiates us to Eubanks's core working unit with brother Duane on trumpet, George Colligan on piano/synth/organ, Lonnie Plaxico on bass, and Gene Jackson on drums. 'Sabanna' has as its foundation a bass pattern reminiscent of Ron Carter's line on Wayne Shorter's 'Footprint.' A more complex and jagged series of tempo changes marks 'Indo' and one would need a scorecard to keep up with it all. In the end, it all makes for somewhat of a mixed bag. Fun in spots, tiresome in others, but never less than daring.
Track Listing: Metamorphos, Get 2 It, Essie, REM State, Blues For Jimi, Cross Currents, RNB-First Take, Sabanna, House of Jade, Reunion, Indo, Audio Notes by Robin
Personnel: Robin Eubanks (trombone & electric trombone); Duane Eubanks (trumpet); Kevin Eubanks (acoustic guitar); Maya Azucena (vocals); George Colligan, Michael Cain (keyboards); Lonnie Plaxico, Dave Holland (bass); Billy Kilson, Gene Jackson (drums); Mino Cinelu (percussion)
Record Label: REM