With his second Mack Avenue Records release, The Messenger, acclaimed guitarist Kevin Eubanks continues to explore his own unique musical vision. This vision offers the listener an opportunity to share a musical journey that truly exemplifies where Eubanks is at this stage of his illustrious career; one that, for over three decades, has seen him incorporate into his creative process a willingness to embrace the broad spectrum of his musical experience, while continuing to seek out new vistas.
The Messenger is a project that reflects not only the guitarist’s virtuosity on his instrument, but also his impressive compositional skills—writing all but two tracks. Best described simply as a “Kevin Eubanks” recording—without specific categorization—as his intent with The Messenger is to communicate the breadth of his artistic influences.
Eubanks is joined on most tracks by his sterling fellow quartet members: Billy Pierce on reeds, Rene Camacho on bass, Marvin “Smitty” Smith on drums and Joey De Leon, Jr. on percussion. This project also has a family flavor, featuring younger brother Duane on trumpet (“Sister Veil,” “JB,” “420”), and older brother Robin on trombone (“JB,” “Queen Of Hearts”)
Zen Food is a statement of purpose for a guitarist who, in the 15 years before landing his coveted gig in Burbank, built a reputation as one of the more adventurous and anti-ism guitarists. In fact, Eubanks has been tending his personal musical muse for years, working on material and honing his band in Los Angeles “after work” at the famed Baked Potato.
In his band, Eubanks has a powerful rhythm section ally in drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith who, like Eubanks, was a commanding presence on the music scene before heading west to the “Tonight Show” bandstand. Completing the ranks of this bold unit, which deftly combines “fusion” in the best sense with other stylistic turns, are saxophonist Bill Pierce, who holds the Woodwind Chair at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, keyboardist Gerry Etkins and bassist Rene Camacho. Zen Food evokes a sense of diversity and also collective continuity, qualities long in the making, and now ready to “hit the road” in a global way.