Kevin Eubanks

Fri, Dec 21, 2012, 00:00

The Messenger, Mack Avenue ***

Guitarist Kevin Eubanks had serious musical cred before committing jazz hari-kari as leader of The Tonight Show house band. As part of bassist Dave Holland’s trailblazing quartet in the 1980s, Eubanks appeared on one of the albums of the decade (Extensions) and his mercurial, acoustic-electric guitar sound proved influential on guitarists in the 1990s. Then came the long years of laughing at Jay Leno’s jokes. Now he’s quit the show, formed a new band (including another Holland alumnus, drummer Marvin “Smitty” Smith) and begun searching for his own sound again. The Messenger is a confident step on that journey, impeccably played by a muscular band, with a daringly funky version of John Coltrane’s Resolution in among the guitarist’s own compositions.