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It had snap, crackle, and pop without abandoning the sense of groove Eubanks was always good at. He lets two bands go at it: the “west coast” band that has been his main vehicle, with Smith and Pierce, Rene Camacho on bass, and Mino Cinelu’s percussion; and a new “east coast” band anchored by a monster rhythm section (drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts with Holland on bass) and filled out by pianist Orrin Evans, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, or both.And his work with Dave Holland’s Prism band has been close to revelatory — letting him take a shot at the kind of harder-edged “fusion” playing that veers fully clear of “smooth jazz”. Choose your poison, as they say.“Time Line” is the opener, a bustling tune that sounds like an urban rush hour.It’s not “Young Lion” stuff, but of course Eubanks is no young lion any more at 60.

They also take a crack at Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On”, and it couldn’t be more fun.

After a short ballad introduction featuring Pierce’s soprano sax, the trio swings it like mad.

For years we’ve been talking about Metheny and Scofield, Ribot and Frisell, Halvorson and Monder. Will Layman is a writer, teacher and musician living in the Washington, DC area.

Eubanks, the TV guy, the “young lion”, the Philly brother who may have gotten a bit slogged down by the smooth jazz sound? He has been a contributor to National Public Radio and WNYC's "Soundcheck" as a jazz critic. But David Plante's tryptic biography isn't difficult because it's hard to read. It's a quick read with straightforward language and an easy-to-follow narrative.

Payton is lyrical, even silky, amidst the swing before the head returns.

The coolest and most thrilling tune from the east coast band is “Carnival”, which slyly mixes different guitar sounds, a punching attack in a few different rhythmic modes, and superb playing from Evans. “Water Colors” finds Eubanks on acoustic guitar, and Watts is still wonderful, all cymbal color and restraint.

Some jazz aficionados might have reservations about Kevin Eubanks because of his time spent leading the Tonight Show band for Jay Leno, a 15-year stint that ended in 2010.

Sure, that band wasn’t really playing jazz, but neither is Jonathan Batiste on Colbert’s new show. Eubanks is from a hugely musical family out of Philadelphia — his two brothers are the galactically brilliant trombonist Robin and the crackling trumpeter Duane, and pianist Ray Bryant was his uncle.

The most impressive performance from the west coast band, however, is a fairly traditional version of “My One and Only Love”, with Pierce on tenor and no percussion or drums, evoking the classic Coltrane performance (from his Johnny Hartman session).

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