Review by Michael G. Nastos / All Music Guide / May 2009.- What Tebar does own is a sense of teamwork and a greater theory of the melodic whole with his fellow bandmembers. Steps, his seventh album, is a very appropriate title for this recording in three discernible ways. There’s a progression of size in these combos, from quartet, quintet, sextet, septet, and octet.
Compositions from post-bop and the jazz fusion era are used, as well as modern contemporary originals. Though somewhat based in acoustic music, the electric Fender Rhodes piano played by Orrin Evans is very present throughout, while add-ons include a horn section, vocals, and a cello. Though Tebar’s guitar is at the focal point, he is not the main voice, but instead represents a straight shooting laser beam of conceptual originality that precludes personal individuality. What is unique is the clever way he interprets any given composition.
Alex Blake (longstanding member of Randy Weston ‘s bands) and Boris Koslov (the Mingus Big Band stalwart) switch their regular roles, with Blake on acoustic upright and Koslov on the electric bass guitar, while rock-solid drummer Donald Edwards plays his ever consistent role as a rhythmic taskmaster. Tebar “covers” five standards, all of them quite differently, with new ideas surrounding the original themes.
The theme from “Pink Panther” for instance incorporates a neat and clean modern approach merged with heavy contemporary funk without dismissing the slinky mood of the song. Wayne Shorter ‘s “Nefertiti” is adapted into a light, breezy samba, Herbie Hancock ‘s fusion classic “Actual Proof” is done very faithfully to the original in short form, and John Coltrane ‘s “26-2” is deviated beyond initial recognition, with Blake ‘s bass, Stefan Braun ‘s cello, wordless vocals from Ester Andujar , a funky tick-tock beat, and Tebar’s sneaky quick guitar lines. “Steps” is a supercharged extrapolation of Coltrane ‘s “Giant Steps” with harmonies from “Milestones” also tossed in, tricky and synapse fast. Clearly a tribute to Wes Montgomery, “Four on Six for Wes” has the guitarist exploiting seamless rhythm changes via tiny notes and hip, literate chords borrowed from the master with scatting included, while the Edwards penned “Essential Passion” is very much like “Actual Proof” in design, but more lithe, animated, and not over the top heavy.
This is a quite credible effort for Tebar and his groups, not as uneven as the lineups might suggest, sporting the diversity of a restless mind that refuses to stew in only one jazz genre, and does not take his own presence in a group setting so deadly serious. Review by Michael G. Nastos / All Music Guide / May 2009
VIDEOCLIP Cd Steps by Ximo Tebar. THE PINK PANTHER THEME (Comp. Henry Mancini. Arr. Ximo Tebar). New and Innovative Version. Make-Off Recording Session.
01 Pink Panther Mancini 02 26-2 Coltrane 03 Four On Six For Wes Tebar 04Zap Tebar 05 Actual Proof Hanckok 06 Nefertiti Shorter 07 Essential Passion Donald Edwards 08 Steps Tebar
Ximo Tebar Guitar & Scat Vocals. Orrin Evans Rhodes & E. Piano. Alex BlakeAcoustic Bass. Boris Kozlov Electric Bass. Donald Edwards Drums. Ester Andújar, Backing Vocals. Ramón Cardo, Soprano Sax. Santi Navalón,Keyboards. Stefan Braun, Cello. Kiko Berenguer, Tenor Sax. David Pastor, Trumpet. Produced by Ximo Tebar
VIDEOCLIP: Ximo Tebar STEPS Funny SUPER-FUNK Recording Session with Orrin Evans, Boris Kozlov and Donald Edwards. Milenia Studios, Valencia, Nov. 2008
VIDEOCLIP: THE PINK PANTHER THEME by Henry Mancini, Arr. by Ximo Tebar. NEW AND INNOVATIVE VERSION. Live at Gran Teatro de Cordoba Festival de la Guitarra, July 2010
Steps, by guitarist extraordinaire Ximo Tebar, may be his most deceptive yet. At first blush, it appears to channel the funky grooves of latter-day Miles Davis and Marcus Miller . But then, with complex melodic invention and accelerated rhythmic accentuation it soon becomes evident that this music embodies an ebullient sound of surprise. Raul d’Gama Rose, All About Jazz New York