Wednesday, October 2, 2013

SPOTLIGHT - Kevin Eubanks

Kevin Eubanks performing with Dave Holland's Prism at the 56th annual Monterey Jazz Festival (Photo by KUSP)

Many know guitarist Kevin Eubanks best from show biz. Eubanks joined The Tonight Show Band with host Jay Leno in 1992, replacing saxophonist Branford Marsalis as leader just 3 years later. After 18 years of television, Eubanks decided to refocus on his own music, retiring from The Tonight Show in 2010.

Eubanks has since kept busy. His latest album on Mack Avenue Records, The Messenger, demonstrates both his renowned chops on guitar, as well as his fresh composing. The video below of "Sister Veil" evokes this duality well, while also speaking to his keen sense of visual presentation, that 18 years in television might help inform.

Born to a musical family, "Sister Veil" features Eubanks' younger brother, Duane Eubanks, on trumpet. And SFJAZZ Collective fans are already familiar with Kevin's older brother, acclaimed trombonist and Collective member Robin Eubanks, who has played in many of Dave Holland's projects. Kevin also has a long-standing musical relationship with Holland, playing on Holland's Extensions (1988), and collaborating together on World Trio (1995) with French multi-instrumentalist Mino Cinelu.

Today, Eubanks plays in Holland's brand-new fusion quartet, Prism, a super group with multifaceted keyboardist Craig Taborn and drummer Eric Harland (another SFJAZZ Collective family member). Prism partly springs from Holland's younger days with Miles Davis' fusion bands (In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew), though from an older, wiser, more-refined perspective. With no horn player, Kevin Eubanks is central in Prism, adding sharp melodies, ample electric firepower, and even a few original compositions.

Kevin Eubanks performs with Dave Holland's Prism at the SFJAZZ Center on Sunday, Oct. 6th! For more info, visit

Also, in February, Kevin Eubanks was invited back on the The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, in anticipation of his album The Messenger. Watch it here!

**The SPOTLIGHT Series probes into the careers and unique, lesser-known aspects of the artists featured at the SFJAZZ Center.

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