san francisco weekly concert preview

San Francisco Weekly, August 11-17, 1999
You can tell a lot about an improviser by the company he keeps. Rob Brown, Sabir Mateen, Daniel Carter, and Roy Campbell are some of New York’s hardest-hitting horn players at the moment, and guitarist Bruce Eisenbeil has gone note for note with all of them. He combines a cool-toned lyricism steeped in the jazz-guitar tradition of Joe Pass, with whom Eisenbeil studied for a spell, with a snarled melodic momentum favored by creative music’s top six-string swingers, such as Joe Morris or Marc Ribot.

The guitarist’s distinction lies in his ability to maintain his poise when saxophonists like Rob Brown or Mateen crank the intensity off the charts. Rather than fall back on a noise barrage of avant-garde clichés, Eisenbeil prefers a complementary tack – smoothly executed single-note lines and well-placed, tastefully screwy chords –which deepens the music’s range without dampening its edge.

Eisenbeil makes his Bay Area debut with a pair of concerts at the city’s creative-music havens the Luggage Store Gallery and Venue 9. At the Luggage Store, the guitarist teams up with veteran trumpeter Eddie Gale, who has worked with new-music maestros Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra, and up-and-coming contrabass expressionists Adam Lane and Damon Smith. At Venue 9, he intends to perform solo and in group improvisations with wild-man bassist Morgan Guberman and experimental percussionist/sound designer Andre Custodio.

– Sam Prestiani