The Last Stage Of A Long Journey is a song by Eberhard Weber which first appeared on his 1980 ECM album Little Movements. You can listen to that version here. It's a slow builder, but I especially like Charlie Mariano's moves from harshness to sweetness, and Rainier Bruninghaus' piano, and the way it seems to swirl around with Weber's bass. The song also appears, and lends the title to, Stages Of A Long Journey, another ECM disc recorded in 2005, for Weber's 65th birthday. This version features Jan Garbarek on sax, Gary Burton on vibes adding extra texture to Bruninghaus' piano, and a full orchestra in the background.
I was listening to that version a couple of years ago, and thinking about the stroke in 2007 which left Weber unable to use one hand, and thus play the bass, when the poem below appeared to me. I haven't made many changes in those two years, and I feel like the texture is somewhere between Weber's song and the rhythms of Woodmont beach, where I grew up.
Weber's since released two albums of bass solos he recorded in live performance over the years with the Garbarek group, with edits and improvisations, including his own one-handed keyboard playing; there has also been another tribute concert in Stuttgart, this one for his 75th birthday, where Garbarek and Burton returned, along with Pat Metheny, Paul McCandless, Danny Gottlieb, and composer/arranger Mike Gibbs. This time he plays one mallet witt Burton on the vibes, worth a close listen if you can hear it. I've told the story elsewhere of my one meeting with Weber, he remains an inspiration to me. Here is part of my appreciation.
THE LAST STAGE OF A LONG JOURNEY
(after Eberhard Weber)
Snow falling on the Sound, wind scrapes like a dinghy on shore,
Off the jetties blowing sand across the beach into my face &
Forcing my eyes shut. It's winter
Where I grew up,
Winter in the place I would remember forever
If I could.
My back to the wind & without needing
To open my eyes I walk home, up & down the Central Avenue hill.
The back door is open; my mother & father never
Leave it locked. I float through the kitchen &
Just to the right of the hall is their desk. I open it, take
Some pictures from the middle drawer, to show my son
So he will remember the grandparents he never met
My eyes open & I cannot remember
Who or what or where or when anything was
Or is. I show him the pictures; ask him to try
To remember for me. He is not there. The desperation
In my voice calling for him echoes down that narrow hallway
Full of far-off music I move through
Searching for him.
Searching for him.