David Eyges: The Captain
David Eyges (cello)
The Captain (MidLantic 2002-103)
Mark Whitecage (alto), Jeff Williams (drums).
Composed by David Eyges.
Recorded: New York City, Sept. 26-28, 1977
Rating: 94/100 (learn more)
Probably the best-known jazz musicians to have performed on cello have been Oscar Pettiford, Ray Brown, Ron Carter, and Dave Holland. However, they were all bassists first and foremost. Few full-time jazz cellists have developed name recognition anywhere approaching that of the four aforementioned, although the casual jazz fan might know of Erik Friedlander, Ernst Reijseger, Hank Roberts, and Abdul Wadud. Wadud and the more obscure David Eyges emerged in the '70's and helped pave the way for the increasing number of jazz cellists that have followed. The group Eyges led with altoist Mark Whitecage played music that brought to mind the alto-cello pairings of Eric Dolphy and Ron Carter, and Julius Hemphill and Wadud. (Eyges himself later had similar collaborations with altoists Byard Lancaster and Arthur Blythe.)
The title tune of Eyges's debut recording, The Captain, draws on influences ranging from country blues to Dolphy and Ornette Coleman. Eyges and Whitecage take the theme in a relaxed unison, bringing out its funky down-home properties, while at the same time bassist Ronnie Boykins' steady ostinato adds a nearly dirge-like quality to it. Meanwhile, Jeff Williams' drums are propulsively filling in the spaces with extended patterns that almost seem to serve as a substitute for a comping piano. Cello and alto then improvise collectively, but very harmoniously as well. Eyges's arco attack alternates between rich long tones and rapidly executed tremolos, and Whitecage simultaneously relies on terse, bursting phrases that are sometimes yearning, sometimes exultant. This music holds up quite well some 32 years later.
Reviewer: Scott Albin