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The Messenger

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Album Review

Kevin Eubanks' second Mack Avenue release, 2012's The Messenger, follows up 2010's Zen Food and once again showcases the guitarist's knack for groove-oriented contemporary improvisation that straddles the line between R&B-infused smooth jazz and more adventurous and funky post-bop. Prior to his tenure leading The Tonight Show Band for Jay Leno, Eubanks was an accomplished modern jazz guitarist. While he did release a few albums during his time on The Tonight Show, Eubanks seems to have thrown himself back into full-time recording mode after parting ways with Leno in 2010. Where Zen Food found Eubanks delving into a mix of ruminative, often folk-inflected acoustic numbers and atmospheric jazz instrumentals, The Messenger is a decidedly more extroverted affair. Here, Eubanks is once again backed by several longtime cohorts including drummer Marvin "Smitty" Smith, bassist Rene Camacho, and saxophonist Bill Pierce. The Messenger also reunites Eubanks with his jazz musician siblings, trombonist Robin Eubanks and trumpeter Duane Eubanks, for several tracks. In that sense, the album recalls Eubanks' early, more hardcore jazz leaning efforts like 1982's Guitarist, 1984's Sundance, and 1985's stellar Opening Night. Like those albums, The Messenger is an enjoyable balance of groove-oriented improvisation, atmospheric ballads, and funky, contemporary instrumental jazz.

Customer Reviews

Awesome progressive!

Excellent musician and awesome cuts!

It is what you expect from Kevin

I was absolutely enchanted by Kevin’s last effort, Zen Food. More of the same here, these guys are great players and tasty with what they do. If you like this genre you won’t do any better.
Lastly ( excuse me for being so shameless) Kevin your playing on this is just exceptional, and Rene’s bass work is superb. Listening to this is takin’ us to school!


Born: November 15, 1957 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

An adept guitarist with a bent toward contemporary jazz, Kevin Eubanks is best known for leading Jay Leno's Tonight Show Band. Born in 1957 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Eubanks grew up in a musical family along with his older brother, trombonist Robin, and younger brother, trumpeter Duane -- his uncle is pianist Ray Bryant. A talented musician by his teens, Eubanks eventually studied music at Berklee College of Music in Boston. After graduating, he played with a bevy of name musicians including...
Full Bio