With his unbridled intensity and sure-footed rhythmic feel, bassist Eric Revis has become one of the most prominent and respected jazz musicians the world over. He’s best known for holding down the low end of Branford Marsalis’s quartet since 1997. In this video from the group’s recording session for their 2012 album Four MFs Playin’ Tunes, Revis walks a bass line with the authority of a posterizing slam dunk.
But Revis’s playing in the Marsalis quartet shows off only a part of his musical personality. In an interview with critic Kevin Whitehead on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of saxophonist Albert Ayler’s groundbreaking free jazz album Spiritual Unity, Revis talks about the importance of Ayler on his own musical development:
I first heard [Spiritual Unity] at a midpoint in my development, in the late ’80s or early ’90s. It shocked me, but something kept me going back to it, and then I started looking for as much Ayler from that period as possible. You listen to early Ornette Coleman now, it sounds almost…prosaic. All the fundamental elements of jazz are there, even though he’s bending and stretching the rules.
Ayler took it to a whole other level — the visceral thing times 10. That Albert cry — there’s something so human about it. No matter how seemingly out the music is, there’s something very inviting about it too. His melodies are so strong. The first time you hear ‘Ghosts,’ you know it — like you’ve already heard it before.
This influence is palpable in several of Revis’s own groups, like the collaborative trio Tarbaby, with pianist Orrin Evans and drummer Nasheet Waits (and featuring special guests Oliver Lake and Marc Ducret in this video).
The combination of strong melody and visceral energy that Revis speaks about is also a hallmark of his most recent album, In Memory Of Things Yet Seen, released this spring on Clean Feed Records. With a pianoless quartet featuring saxophonists Darius Jones and Bill McHenry and percussionist Chad Taylor, Revis explores material that is eminently tuneful, yet never safe or predictable.
Eric Revis will bring this quartet to The Jazz Gallery this Friday to play two sets of this forceful and deeply expressive music. It is a special occasion to have such in-demand musicians all in the same place, so this is a show not to be missed!
The Eric Revis Quartet plays at The Jazz Gallery on Friday, September 26, 2014. The group features Revis on bass, Darius Jones and Bill McHenry on saxophones, and Chad Taylor on drums & percussion. Sets are at 8 and 10 p.m. $22 general admission ($10 for Members). Purchase tickets here.