A look inside The Jazz Gallery

Photo by Siebe van Ineveld,

Eric Revis boasts “a huge sound, unshakable rhythmic confidence and a penchant for cohesive, logical baselines,” writes Ted Panken in DownBeat. “But he is also one of jazz’s relativists, interested in importing other sounds and forms and rhythms,” adds The New York Times.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Eric bought his first electric bass at age 14. He began as a self-taught hobbyist; it wasn’t until he was a year into a bachelor’s degree that he decided to pursue a career in music. Relocating to Texas, he began working a gig six nights a week with a group of musicians who introduced him to jazz.

Around this time, Eric switched to acoustic bass. He met Delfeayo Marsalis soon afterwards, who recommended that the young bassist enroll in the jazz program at The University of New Orleans, which was helmed by Delfeayo’s father, Ellis Marsalis. While in New Orleans, Eric honed his skills on the bandstand with the likes of Brian Blade, Nicholas Payton, Mark Turner, and Greg Tardy.

Eric’s first long-term professional association came with an invitation to join the band of Betty Carter in 1994. It also resulted in his move to New York in the same year, where the bassist apprenticed with Billy Harper, Louis Hayes, Lionel Hampton, and Russell Gunn, and formulated new ideas with peers like Sherman Irby, James Hurt, and J.D. Allen. Within a few years, he was recruited by the saxophonist Branford Marsalis, with whom Eric has collaborated ever since. The bassist appears on eight of Marsalis’ critically acclaimed albums – one of them, Contemporary Jazz (Columbia), received a GRAMMY award – as well as recordings by Steve Coleman, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and others.

Commenting on Eric’s debut album, Tales of the Stuttering MimeJazzTimes notes, “Eric stretches the jazz fabric without ripping it apart. The results are a greatly varied…[a] thoroughly rewarding and entertaining set.” The effort features performances of ten of Eric’s original compositions by a band including the saxophonist JD Allen, the pianist Orrin Evans, the trumpeter Duane Eubanks, and the drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts, and was voted the Best Debut of 2004 by AllAboutJazz. Speaking about the album, Eric says:

I strive to be as honest as possible to my perspective and actualize that. This is about being comfortable in my own skin and coming into my own, musically. Taking myself, my life, and music, [and] refining it to get to the essence of what’s important.

In 2009, Eric released his sophomore effort, Laughter’s Necklace of Tears, which finds him in the company of the pianist Orrin Evans (who doubles here on melodica), the saxophonists Stacy Dillard and John Ellis, the drummer Gerald Cleaver, the guitarist Oz Noy, and the trumpeter Freddie Hendrix.

Eric is also a member of TARBABY, a group which he co-leads with the pianist Orrin Evans and the drummer Nasheet Waits, and which is frequently expanded to include other like-minded collaborators. JazzTimes warns that their eponymous first album, “leaves you wanting more – much more”, and describes their second release, The End of Fear, as a “daring, genre-defying ride by an uncannily flexible crew of likeminded musical renegades.” The band’s website includes the following description of the group:

TARBABY is an expandable, organic situation where like-minded musicians are invited to participate. With the trio of Evans, Revis, and Waits as the foundation we strive to augment the group into myriad incarnations. There are no limitations, this is just the beginning. We’re excited to see the manifestations of these various combinations.

Eric has been leading and co-leading various configurations at The Gallery for over a decade, and we are excited to feature his trio and quartet this Friday and Saturday nights, respectively. Friday’s performance will feature a trio with the pianist Kris Davis and the drummer Andrew Cyrille, while Saturday’s lineup will expand to include the saxophonist Darius Jones.

Watch a video of one of Eric’s performances at The Gallery, featuring Ken Vandermark, Jason Moran, and Nasheet Waits.