Posts Tagged ‘Eric Revis’

Six Picks: August 2013

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

My monthly list of recommended CDs, as published in The New York City Jazz Record, August 2013:

Jim Black, Antiheroes (Winter & Winter)

Drew Gress, The Sky Inside (Pirouet)

Geoffrey Keezer, Heart of the Piano (Motéma)

Chris Morrissey, North Hero (Sunnyside)

Gary Peacock & Marilyn Crispell, Azure (ECM)

Eric Revis, City of Asylum (Clean Feed)

On Eric Revis

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

This review appears in the April 2013 issue of The New York City Jazz Record.

Eric Revis

By David R. Adler

Bassist Eric Revis, with his immense tone and supple sense of swing, has helped define the sound of the Branford Marsalis Quartet for over 15 years. As a leader he’s taken an eclectic approach, starting from acoustic jazz but adding electric guitar, strings and other textures. In recent years he has embraced a freer concept, working with the likes of Peter Brötzmann, Avram Fefer and Michael Marcus. Parallax, with Ken Vandermark on tenor and clarinet, Jason Moran on piano and Nasheet Waits on drums, leans strongly in that direction as well. (It’s pertinent that Revis, Waits and Parallax co-producer Orrin Evans are the core of the free-leaning ensemble Tar Baby.)

Revis features himself on three solo bass tracks: the opening “Prelusion,” with frenetic bowing; “Percival,” a tight pizzicato miniature (the title is Cecil Taylor’s middle name); and “Parallax,” the finale, rich in somber overtones and washes of sound. But the main focus is the band, switching up from red-blooded ferocity (“Hyperthral,” Vandermark’s “Split”) to a subtler chamber-like aesthetic (“MXR,” “Celestial Hobo”).

As much as Parallax is “free,” it’s also strongly compositional: Revis’ “Edgar,” a nod to fellow bassist Edgar Meyer, stands out for its repeating double-stop arco pattern and contrapuntal piano-clarinet theme emerging from chaos. “Dark Net,” an ensemble theme of daunting complexity — and no solos at all — is by altoist and Clean Feed labelmate Michaël Attias (a fine move to highlight work by an underrated composer and peer).

Many don’t realize, but avant-garde jazz operates from a position of deepest respect for the tradition. For Revis, and certainly for Moran in his own work, the enthusiasm stretches back well before bebop. Their reading of Fats Waller’s “I’m Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” begins with the melody almost exactly as written, but against a backdrop of wild sonic abstraction. Jelly Roll Morton’s “Winin’ Boy Blues” acquires a slow, booming beat true to Morton’s own accurate description of the song: “Smutty.”

Six Picks: February 2013

Monday, February 4th, 2013

My monthly list of recommended CDs, as published in The New York City Jazz Record, February 2013:

Gregg August, Four By Six (Iacuessa)

Ryan Blotnick, Solo, Volume 1 (ind.)

Ken Hatfield Sextet, For Langston (Arthur Circle)

Rudresh Mahanathappa, Gamak (ACT)

Eric Revis, Parallax (Clean Feed)

Wayne Shorter Quartet, Without a Net (Blue Note)

On Orrin Evans

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

This review appears in the August 2012 issue of The New York City Jazz Record.

Orrin Evans
Flip the Script (Posi-Tone)

By David R. Adler

Pianist Orrin Evans is on a hot streak. For evidence look to his recent Posi-Tone releases Freedom, Faith In Action and Captain Black Big Band, not to mention his sideman turn with Ralph Bowen on Power Play or his work with the co-led group Tarbaby. On his new Flip the Script, the Philadelphian enlists bassist Ben Wolfe and drummer Donald Edwards for a trio session of great depth and sustained focus. It’s a mostly original date, though “Question,” the bracingly free opening salvo, is by Tarbaby’s bassist Eric Revis.

While Flip the Script has its episodes of speed and ferocity, Evans and crew also do what the album title suggests by slowing way down. In the fragmented blues of “Big Small” and the meditative calm of the reharmonized “Someday My Prince Will Come” (the only standard), we hear control and invention at the most reined-in tempos — an essential element of jazz artistry. The ballad “When,” guided by Edwards on subtle mallets, also highlights the trio’s contemplative side. “TC’s Blues,” first recorded by Evans’ group Seed in 2000, is a rhythmic test of another sort, with pauses and cues that guide the band through a maze of slow-to-fast transitions. It’s a pivotal moment on the disc.

Along with the soaring waltzes “Clean House” and “The Answer” and the powerful title track — fine pieces of writing from Evans — we have two additional covers: “A Brand New Day,” Luther Vandross’ contribution to The Wiz soundtrack, and “The Sound of Philadelphia” (or “TSOP”) by Philly soul legends Gamble & Huff. The latter, a lively 1974 disco hit remade for sparse solo piano, is decidedly bittersweet. This was once the theme from Soul Train; it’s still played at the ballpark before the Phillies’ home games. Evans’ version is like a poignant sigh, a nod to Philly in all its musical diversity and dysfunction. As the finale of one of his finest efforts to date, it’s simply ingenious.