Published: August 13, 2009
In just a few weeks KEVIN EUBANKS will be back on network television, five nights a week, as the musical sidekick to Jay Leno. It’s a job he has honed to perfection, but it showcases only one side of his talent. Before versatility, amiability and polish became his trademarks, Mr. Eubanks was known as an aggressively nimble postbop guitarist.
He still has the capacity for that sort of playing, though he doesn’t indulge it often. All of his albums in this decade have been released through his own label, InSoul, and they adhere to mellow prescriptions. But when Mr. Eubanks digs in with likeminded players, like the drummer Marvin (Smitty) Smith, he allows himself the license to explore.Which makes his appearance at the Blue Note from Tuesday through next Sunday something worth noting. He’ll be playing not only with Mr. Smith but also the saxophonist Bill Pierce, in what looks like a potent fusion quintet. Don’t count on too many laughs. 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., 131 West Third Street, Greenwich Village, (212) 475-8592, bluenote.net; cover, $30 at tables, $20 at the bar, with a $5 minimum.