Guitarist Kevin Eubanks and drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith in a rare East Coast five-night stand — you don’t have to know a thing about “jazz” to get into their quintet’s masterful, exciting, funky, complex, improvised, folky, powerful, inspired sounds. A night at a Manhattan club can be costly, yes, but sets of this calibre make it all worthwhile. And Eubanks has the current slant — he announced at the start that the venue’s “no flash photography, no recording” policy was suspended, urging the audience to record the music on whatever devices we had, send it to him if the recording is good, and share it with friends — “Just don’t charge for it!”
I don’t know when the last time Eubanks and Smith played New York, but this quintet with strong saxophonist Bill Pierce (chair of the Woodwind dept. at Berklee School of Music, Boston), thrilling keyboardist Gerry “Dr. J” Etkins and perfectly unobtrustive bassist Rene Camacho tours rarely, because working for Jay Leno every night keeps the principals in LA. Our loss. With Eubanks typically starting his songs such as “Jungle Blood” and “Dirty Monk” at a very low volume on his hollow-bodied, amplified-not-electrified but extremely responsive guitar, plucking enticing, intricate ideas that became suspenseful patterns and developed into full blown, multi-leveled collectively imagined jams leading to nearly chaotic crescendos that resolved in tight lines and graceful fade-aways, the musicians were obviously having fun being creative and their feeling was infectious.