Tag Archives: Parallax

Jazzflits review by Herman te Loo

CF 266Eric Revis 11:11 – Parallax (CF 266)
Muzikanten die muzikaal opgroeiden in New Orleans houden altijd een bijzondere band met de jazztraditie. Zo ook bassist Eric Revis, die we vooral kennen van de groepen van Branford Marsalis. Op ‘Parallax’ komt hij met een All Star-kwartet van gelijkgestemde zielen. Pianist Jason Moran en drummer Nasheet Waits verkennen in The Bandwagon ook al een flink stuk jazzgeschiedenis, en saxofonist/klarinettist Ken Vandermark kent zijn klassiekers. Maar het viertal heeft ook een niet te stillen honger
naar vernieuwing en persoonlijke expressie. Al die elementen komen bij elkaar in een album dat flink wat verschillende kanten opschiet. Van de gestructureerde freejazz van ‘Hyperthral’ tot de vette blues van ‘Winin’ boy blues’ en van de kamermuziek van ‘Edgar’ (met subliem strijkwerk van de leider) tot de onontkoombare groove van ‘Split’. De groepsleden laten horen wat ze allemaal kunnen, en weten daarbinnen hun eigen stempel op het eindproduct te zetten. Of we nu een duidelijk beeld krijgen van Eric Revis als componist, blijft echter een twijfelpunt. Je kunt je namelijk ook in veelzijdigheid verliezen, ‘ePna rdaallta dxr’ etieg tg oebpe uren. Dat neemt niet weg dat er op de cd veel te genieten valt, want als keuzeheer heeft Revis wel een zeer gelukkige hand.

The New York City Jazz Record review by David R. Adler

CF 266Eric Revis 11:11 – Parallax (CF 266)
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 (tenor saxophone and clarinet), Jason Moran (piano) and Nasheet Waits (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 is featured on three solo tracks: the opening “Prelusion”, with frenetic bowing; “Percival”, a tight pizzicato miniature (the title is Cecil Taylor’s middle name) and the finale/title track, 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 Clean Feed label mate 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’s 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”.

Point of Departure interview by Troy Collins

Eric Revis: The Specter of Posterity

Photo by Petra Cvelbar

Bassist Eric Revis first came to prominence supporting Betty Carter in the mid-1990s, shortly after completing formative studies with Ellis Marsalis at the University of New Orleans. Since then, Revis has become a key figure in the creative mainstream: as a stalwart member of Branford Marsalis’ Quartet; part of the collective trio Tarbaby (with pianist Orrin Evans and drummer Nasheet Waits); and a sideman to neo-traditional artists like JD Allen, Russell Gunn and Winard Harper.

CF 266Released on Portugal’s Clean Feed Records, Parallax is his third effort as a bandleader, following the eclectic Laughter’s Necklace of Tears (11:11 Records, 2009) and Tales of The Stuttering Mime (11:11 Records, 2004), which offered colorful demonstrations of the bassist’s expansive compositional palette, featuring such unique instrumental sonorities as melodica, string quartet and washboard. Equally diverse, yet far more adventurous, Parallax is the debut of his 11:11 quartet – a virtual summit meeting of contemporary talent – featuring Revis, Waits and the drummer’s primary employer, pianist Jason Moran, performing alongside Chicago scene leader Ken Vandermark.

Revis is no stranger to such vanguard company; although often found supporting straight-ahead players like Lionel Hampton, Billy Harper and McCoy Tyner, Revis toured with Peter Brötzmann in 2009, serving with Waits as the renowned German firebrand’s dedicated rhythm section. Bolstered by longstanding relationships, Revis’ studied rapport with Waits in Tarbaby and Waits decade-plus membership in Moran’s Bandwagon trio provides this particular lineup with a deep sense of camaraderie far greater than the average super-group.

The quartet’s efforts encompass a wealth of inside-outside dynamics, seamlessly bridging the tenuous divide between traditions. The members’ shared enthusiasms for the stylistic nuances of prewar jazz draw a striking parallel to the genre-defying innovations of the AACM, most notably on stirring covers of Fats Waller’s “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter” and Jelly Roll Morton’s “Winin’ Boy Blues” – riotous interpretations that find aesthetic concordance in the equally raw, albeit cohesive collective improvisations “Hyperthral” and “IV.” Though spontaneously conceived, the intense focus of the latter pieces confirms the ensemble’s adroit interplay; Vandermark’s husky tenor refrains, Moran’s bustling two-handed runs and Waits’ careening downbeats effortlessly interlock with the leader’s pneumatic fretwork, lending the rhapsodic proceedings a wholly unified sensibility.

The diverse cast also enables Revis an opportunity to showcase his burgeoning compositional style, as exemplified by sophisticated ensemble numbers like the contrapuntal march “MXR” and opulent tango “Edgar.” His refined writing also informs his virtuosic solo technique, readily demonstrated by the ruminative bass soliloquies “Prelusion” and “Percival” – the former regaling with dervish-like arco, the latter blistering pizzicato.

Rounded out by stellar pieces written by his peers, including the rhythmically daunting “Dark Net,” penned by saxophonist Michaël Attias, and Vandermark’s sole contribution, the scorching free bop swinger “Split,” Parallax embodies a truly diverse microcosm of contemporary jazz styles. Intrigued by the album’s expansive continuum, I interviewed Revis in the winter of 2012.


Troy Collins: When comparing your sideman discography to the lineup featured on Parallax, the personnel seems a little surprising. Jason Moran and Ken Vandermark are widely revered for their creative virtuosity, but also for their leadership abilities in their respective metropolitan scenes; Moran in New York and Vandermark in Chicago, respectively. Can you explain how you managed to get these two leaders together as sidemen in a quartet setting?

Eric Revis: It was actually a pretty easy process. I called Nasheet, Ken, and Jason and asked them if they wanted to do a gig I had in NYC. Luckily everyone was available and the gig was great.

TC: Where was the gig held and did the set feature any of the tunes included on Parallax? If so, how have those pieces changed since their initial conception?

ER: The gig was at The Jazz Gallery in NYC. I believe we did the Fats Waller and Jelly Roll tunes on the gig and we played them pretty conventionally. As we did more gigs, I realized that when given the opportunity to document the band, this was a group I could take advantage of exploring the possibilities of the tunes I had been composing. All of the tunes other than the aforementioned songs on Parallax were brought in at the date.

TC: One detail that makes 11:11’s personnel a little less startling is your time spent touring with Peter Brötzmann. Can you describe how that gig came about and how it may have influenced 11:11, if at all?

ER: I have been a huge fan of Mr. Brötzmann for a long time. In ‘04-‘05 Nasheet and Peter were doing a series of dates as a duo. Around that time Nasheet and I were on the phone just catching up with each other and he mentioned that he and Peter were doing these shows and would be performing at the now defunct Tonic. I told him about me being a big fan of Peter and that I would definitely be down to see them. He told Peter about this and they actually invited me to do the gig. A year or two later I saw Peter in Austin, TX and he mentioned that he enjoyed the trio gig and that he’d been thinking about doing something with it. That resulted in a tour of that trio a year later and it was on that tour that I met Ken.

TC: Vandermark is well known for paying homage to a wide variety of artists, many of them musicians, but not all of them associated with jazz. As an artist with an equally eclectic background based in funk and rock music, how does that analogous aspect influence your writing and/or performing?

ER: I think anyone aspiring to a true artistic aesthetic is aware of and checks out a vast array of material. The more this is done, one starts to adhere to a certain universality of music and art devoid of the hierarchy that artists often attribute to one music over another. I think if one stays true to this ideal, those influences make themselves apparent and permeate (in a very organic way) any art one is involved in.

TC: There are a number of interesting intersecting relationships in 11:11; Waits is a member of Moran’s Bandwagon with bassist Tarus Mateen, while you and Waits play in TarBaby with pianist Orrin Evans. What differences or similarities do you notice in how these three ensembles function?

ER: I suppose the obvious similarity is that we are all committed to keeping Nasheet Waits working as much as possible (laughs).

I think that each of these groups represent a certain philosophical convergence of individuals who approach music and art in a similar fashion; with reverence for tradition as well as the commitment to an intelligent, artistic, forward-thinking trajectory.

Beyond that, Bandwagon and 11:11 are platforms for Jason and I to exact our particular voices in those settings/configurations. Tarbaby is a total collective effort.

TC: How do personal and stylistic dynamics shape the inner workings of the group?

ER: My criteria for putting any group together (or being in a group), is pretty straight forward. Cool, intelligent, forward-thinking individuals. That and they are all phenomenal musicians … with very distinct personalities.

TC: Were any of the tunes composed specifically for these particular players, or were they more skeletal in conception?

ER: There is an inherent danger and limitation to composing for specific individuals. One of my goals over the past few years has been to distance myself from my “likes” and compositional proclivities in order to allow my compositions to dictate their own path. When one writes for a specific individual you are limited by your interpretation of that person’s sound. That being said, my implicit trust in the musicians to interpret the music in whatever way they deem fit insures that the outcome will be optimal. For this recording (and mind you, there are 10 additional songs in the can) … a lot of it was composed. There were a few sketches as well.

TC: Does that mean there will be a follow-up album of unreleased material? Regardless, do you plan on continuing to record with this particular line-up?

ER: I think that some of those songs will be released at some point however I am more interested in documenting the group in its present-tense.

TC: While the album’s over-arching orientation is fiercely modern, two classic covers – Fats Waller’s “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter” and Jelly Roll Morton’s “Winin’ Boy Blues” – are both given fascinating treatments; the former unfolds like a fever dream, the latter a rhapsodic revival. Can you describe your intention behind these bold interpretations of such venerated standards?

ER: One of the initial concepts I had for the band when we first got together was a “back-to-the-future” paradigm. Freely improvised sets peppered with songs from the “pre-standard” songbook. When you have a group of musicians that have reverence for the tradition as well as for the extemporaneous, you can do things like that in a very viable way.

The other thing is that so many of the songs from the “pre-standard” cannon are great songs that can be interpreted in a variety of ways and maintain their vitality. That was the impetus for “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter.” The arrangement of “Winin Boy” is an homage to Jelly Roll and the prison work song.

TC: The “back-to-the-future” paradigm finds obvious concordance in the AACM’s credo, “Great Black Music, Ancient to the Future.” I assume you’ve drawn inspiration from the Association’s advancements, but considering your current role as Branford Marsalis’ primary bass player and knowing his brother’s outspoken ideology, how you manage to balance the two worlds? Do you find any aesthetic disparities between playing with Peter Brötzmann and Branford Marsalis, for example?

ER: I think a few things should be addressed in order to properly answer this question. First off, yes the AACM has been a tremendous influence for me both musically and philosophically. I feel that the thoroughness of concept and fearlessness they exhibited in exacting their art and principles is something that every musician – particularly ones involved in the Jazz/Creative music diaspora – should really investigate. In terms of the “Marsalis factor,” I find it interesting and somewhat disturbing that both Branford and Wynton are held accountable and taken to task for things they said over 20 years ago. It seems as if no leeway is given to these men for possibly expanding their particular views from that of the 20-something-year-olds they were who were accorded a platform that deservedly (or not) was placed upon them.

As this relates to the question … Are there not aesthetic disparities in speaking, I mean truly communicating with people from different regions of a given area? I believe if one’s intent is honest and coming from a well-rounded perspective, the “universality” I spoke of before, shines through. The elements I hold musically dear … my musical criteria … (intelligence, fearlessness, selflessness, reverence for tradition, virtuosity of sound) are elements that I find to be indelible components on all music(s) of quality. At that point it just becomes a matter of context.

TC: I’m curious about context and how it relates to your actual approach towards performing with artists as different as Brötzmann and Marsalis. Do you rely on a different skill set or instrumental palette, depending on who you’re performing with? I assume there are techniques that are more appropriate in one context than another, and if so, how does that affect your decision making?

ER: There are definitely techniques I employ for different contexts. I am a firm believer in letting the punishment fit the crime. Yes, appropriateness is definitely key. Although, I must say that as I have explored and developed more “language” in the realm of extended techniques on the double bass, I do think I have organically incorporated those elements into other contexts more and more.

TC: Parallax seems to encompass all aspects of the tradition equally, and I’m curious if the 11:11 quartet is more liberating for you as a performer – i.e.; not being constrained stylistically in almost any conceivable way?

ER: 11:11 is very liberating in that I am able to exact the whole of my voice and artistic trajectory up to this point.

TC: What are your thoughts on studio recording versus live performance and how does that affect your playing in each situation.

ER: There is always the specter of posterity in the studio. That, and the fact that the musicians alone are responsible for the energy. The studio lends itself to being more meticulous.

TC: What are your thoughts on the state of the recording industry at large, especially in regards to archival hard copies versus ephemeral downloads?

ER: Although the convenience of the download is undeniable, I think that the overall artistic package that LP’s encompassed is sorely missed. A great deal of my music history was garnered from album covers. The fact that so much music has yet to be archived in download form and the sound quality of downloads is so poor, are but other disappointments in this age of the download.

TC: In light of the recording industry’s current complexities, do you find musical inspiration in any technological advances, stylistic movements or particular artists?

ER: I tend to be a little behind the curve when it comes to technological advances. This is something I plan to remedy sometime in the future. Even though I realize that some of these advances … music programs/apps and such … can be valuable tools, I at this point am really concerned with just getting better as a musician/composer and that is where I devote my time.

There are no particular “current” movements in music that I am into per se. My current listening involves: Alban Berg, Meshuggah, Odd Future, Grizzly Bear, Leron Thomas, Prokofiev, Darando, Julius Hemphill.

All About Jazz review by Glenn Astarita

CF 266Eric Revis 11:11 – Eric Revis’ Parallax (CF 266)
Bassist Eric Revis is notoriously comfortable within many jazz contexts and vernaculars. As a leader and session man, he’s been in the thick of things, toggling between modern mainstream, trad-jazz, Acid Jazz and other crosscutting musical endeavors. Here, he revisits the freer spectrum, supported by an all-star lineup. And while there’s certainly no shortage of group-centric expressionism, the bassist doesn’t keep the band in a particular mode or style. Revis’ menu generates an oscillating aural experience, where each piece stands on its own.

“Split” is built on succinct contrasts, executed by Revis and pianist Jason Moran’s lower register ostinato groove, followed by saxophonist Ken Vandermark’s popping notes, spiced with fractured swing inferences. At the onset, the quartet establishes a baseline built on a stirring rhythmic motif, accelerated by drummer Nasheet Waits’ blustery rolls and blitzing shuffle beats. The panorama opens up as Vandermark darts, dashes, and bangs out a few bluesy inflections via a torrid solo spot. The intensity level soars as Waits’ kicks the overall metric into hyper-mode, leading the musicians back to the primary theme for the closeout. Indeed, Revis and associates stir the kettle many times over and convey an interchanging rhythmic mien throughout the program.

All About Jazz Italy review by Vincenzo Roggero

CF 266Eric Revis 11:11 – Parallax (CF 266)
Valutazione: 4 stelle
Sei composizioni del leader, una a testa per Ken Vandermark e per Michael Attias (sassofonista di grande talento, non adeguatamente riconosciuto), tre improvvisazioni collettive, e due brani – Fats Waller e Jelly Roll Morton – che pescano agli albori del jazz. È questo il menu proposto da Parallax, album dagli incroci e incontri impossibili, dalle prospettive differenti nate da differenti punti di vista, dal risultato davvero eccellente. Eric Revis vanta una lunga associazione in quartetto con Brandford Marsalis, mentre Jason Moran e Nasheet Waits sono i due terzi del Bandwagon Trio, entrambe le formazioni impegnate ai massimi livelli nel rivitalizzare, aggiornare e individuare nuove prospettive per il jazz moderno. Ken Vandermark è da tempo uno dei principali animatori e punto di riferimento imprescindibile della scena free di Chicago e la varietà dei suoi progetti e delle sue partecipazioni la dice lunga sul grado di curiosità, sullo spirito di avventura e sulla sete di ricerca che animano il musicista originario di Rhode Island.

L’idea, tanto semplice, neppure nuova ma non per questo meno che geniale, è stata quella di far incontrare sensibilità e storie musicali così differenti su di un terreno compositivo, come abbiamo visto, piuttosto variegato, lasciando al libero fluire di pensiero il compito di determinare il risultato finale. Che è perlomeno sorprendente e, spesso, entusiasmante.

Bastano gli iniziali centoventi secondi di forsennato solo archettato del leader per capire che quella che si sta ascoltando non è una registrazione qualunque. “MXR” è una sorta di ellingtoniana “Caravan” tra indolente incedere del tema e toniche variazioni, con un ispirato clarinetto a intorbidire le acque.

“Winin’ Boy Blues” di Jelly Roll Morton è carta vetrata, whiskey a buon mercato ed un’epoca irripetibile resa vivida e attuale più che mai. “Celestial Hobo” è metafisica interpretazione dei versi del poeta Bob Kaufman, mentre “Edgar” è tango atipico, quasi sinfonico nella ricchezza espressiva. E i novanta secondi conclusivi tra il contrabbasso del leader e gli armonici del sax di Vandermak chiudono degnamente un disco da assaporare e riassaporare.

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

CF 266Eric Revis’ 11:11 – Parallax (CF 266)
Quem conheça o contrabaixista Eric Revis das colaborações com Branford Marsalis e Jeff Watts, estranhará vê-lo neste quarteto 11:11 associado a três estrelas de galáxia bem diversa: Ken Vandermark, Jason Moran e Nasheet Waits.

Mas no jazz as distâncias enganam e o quarteto 11:11 dá boa conta de si. Aliás, é imbatível a gerar malhas rítmicas complexas: escute-se “Edgar”, uma dança hipnótica lançada pelo contrabaixo com arco, “Winnin’ Boy Blues”, com articulação tão intrincada que custa a crer que se trata de uma improvisação colectiva, e “Dark Net, uma composição de Michael Attias. A jóia da coroa é “Split”, um tema de Vandermark em que um groove elástico e saltitante, com precioso contributo de Moran, acaba por converter-se numa obsessão demoníaca.

Perfect Sounds best of 2012 list by Chris Monsen

Favorite jazz of 2012 I handed Francis Davis my ballot for the 7th annual Jazz Critics Poll a few weeks ago, and since then several publications and writers have offered their best-of-the-year’s, top 10s and so forth. I had initially considered not posting mine until after the poll results had been announced, but after going over several other top 10’s/faves/etc., I had second thoughts. Some of the below (not many) already look like safe bets to place high on the poll, based on the lists I’ve seen. Others have (sadly) not featured as prominently elsewhere:

New albums:

Steve Lehman Trio: Dialect Fluorescent (Pi Recordings)
Grass Roots (Sean Conley, Alex Harding, Darius Jones & Chad Taylor): Grass Roots (AUM Fidelity)
Vijay Iyer Trio: Accelerando (ACT)
Ben Allison, Michael Blake & Rudy Royston: Union Square (Abeat Records)
Mike Reed’s People, Places & Things: Clean On the Corner (482 Music)
Charles Gayle Trio: Streets (Northern Spy)
Devin Gray, Dave Ballou, Ellery Eskelin & Maichael Formanek: Dirigo Rataplan (Skirl)
William Parker Orchestra with special guest Kidd Jordan: Essence of Ellington (Centering)
Jasmine Lovell-Smith’s Towering Poppies: Fortune Songs (Paintbox Records)
FLY: Year of the Snake (ECM)
Rich Halley 4: Back From Beyond (Pine Eagle Records)
Henry Threadgill Zooid: Tomorrow Snny/The Revelry, Spp (Pi Recordings) Jason Robinson: Tiresian Symmetry (Cuniform)
Mary Halvorson Quintet: Bending Bridges (Firehouse 12)
CF 266Eric Revis 11:11: Parallax (Clean Feed)
Darius Jones Quartet: Book of Mæ’bul (Another Kind of Sunrise) (AUM Fidelity)
Hugo Carvalhais: Particula (Clean Feed)
David Virelles: Continuum (Pi Recordings)
Ravi Coltrane: Spirit Fiction (Blue Note)
Tim Berne: Snakeoil (ECM)
Branford Marsalis Quartet: Four MF’s Playin’ Tunes (Marsalis Music)
Jim Black Trio: Somatic (Winter & Winter)
Wadada Leo Smith: Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneifrom Records)
The Bad Plus: Made Possible (Entertainment One Music)
Neneh Cherry & The Thing: The Cherry Thing (Smalltown Supersound)
CF 250Elliott Sharp: Aggregat (Clean Feed)
Hairy Bones: Snakelust (Clean Feed)
Henry Cole & The Afrobeat Collective: Roots Befroe Branches (self released)
Matt Wilson’s Arts & Crafts: An Attitude for Gratitude (Palmetto Records)
Pixel: Reminder (Cuneiform)

emusic review by Britt Robson

CF 266Eric Revis 11:11, Parallax (CF 266)
It’s almost a shame Eric Revis is still best known as the longstanding bassist for the Branford Marsalis Quartet, because his own projects have been consistently meaty, masterful and stylistically multi-faceted. Parallax — his third disc as a leader, not counting the trio Tarbaby — is a bold, star-infused quartet date that deserves to be heard above all the year-end list-making hoopla surrounding its release.   Revis emerges as the guiding force among such dominant sidemen as pianist Jason Moran, Ken Vandermark on tenor and clarinet, and Nasheet Waits in the drummer’s chair. He stakes out the terrain with showcases that include a modulated blizzard of notes from his bow on the 80-second solo opener, “Prelusion”; agile plucking on the 102-second mid-disc solo, “Percival”; and the closing title track, an ominous and deliberate texture-contrast duet with Vandermark.

Revis challenges his supergroup in unique fashion by structuring “Celestial Hobo” around the individual musical reaction of each band member to a poem by Bob Kaufman. He and Waits build funhouse mirrors out of crazy-glue in their intrepid intros to two standards, raking and scratching for beats on Fats Waller’s “I’m Going to Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter,” and lurching about like mimes pretending inebriation on Jelly Roll Morton’s “Winin’ Boy Blues.” And among Revis’s group compositions, “Edgar,” sports a marvelous stalk-swing groove that is by turns spooky and whimsical.

The sidemen deploy their enormous talents with bristling elegance, mixing brutish abandon with expertly honed restraint, so that the customary patterns of ensemble interplay are elevated and/or altered by extraordinary innovation. You hear it in the way Vandermark refuses to climax the tension of his high-wire clarinet solo on “MXR,” the way Waits swings the centrifugal force out to the periphery on the Waller tune, the two-handed gusto that Moran uses to both goad and waylay the groove on “IV,” and the distinct unison harmonies Moran and Vandermark wring out of their front-line tandem on many of the tracks. The two group improvisations are among the best of their kind that I’ve heard in recent years. “IV” is hard-bop rampaging through thorny rose bushes. “Hyperthral” lives up to its title, gradually escalating into shred-fest while Revis’s bass holds the ground with the ever-presence of an afternoon shadow. A “parallax” describes the displacement of an object viewed along two different lines of sight — an apt title for music with this many angles and ideas.

The New York Times review by Ben Ratliff

CF 266Eric Revis 11:11 – Parallax (CF 266)
The bassist Eric Revis likes to play strong and loud and is willing to cut across lines of style and tradition to satisfy his need. He’s done it in Branford Marsalis’s Quartet, one of this country’s top-billing jazz groups; in Tarbaby, a trio with the pianist Orrin Evans and the drummer Nasheet Waits; and in a trio led by the German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, with which he toured last year. That’s a pretty good range, from some baseline verities of the American jazz tradition to free improvising with art-brut appeal.

For his new album, “Parallax,” he’s found a new forum. Originally, for some 2009 New York club dates, he brought together a quartet with Ken Vandermark on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Jason Moran on piano, and Mr. Waits on drums.

This is good bridgework, particularly between Mr. Vandermark and Mr. Moran. Their worlds — in Chicago and New York — don’t overlap much. But they’re close enough. Both use compositional structures and organic group interplay and scholarship to experiment with jazz as a history and a process, revisiting old landmarks, shuffling tradition into new shapes. (They’re both MacArthur grant recipients, for those with scorecards.)

The music, rough and baleful, seems to have pretty old time-stamps on it, though. Much of “Parallax” sounds to me like the ’80s or early ’90s, reminiscent in passing of music by John Carter, Tim Berne, David S. Ware and many blended-together nights at the old Knitting Factory on Houston Street. It can sound like research into a variety of strategies: marches, groove, free rhythm; solo-bass features, sometimes double-tracked; blues language and collective improvisation; a Bob Kaufman poem interpreted variously in music by the band members; originals with small or jagged melodies and reworked old songs. (There are two pieces of old-time repertory: an emphatic, stomping version of Jelly Roll Morton’s “Winin’ Boy Blues” and a more indirect and wild paraphrasing of Fats Waller’s “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter.”)

The record is searching for a partnership of sound, and so the action pulls toward Mr. Moran and Mr. Waits, who have one: they’ve played together for more than a decade and instinctively lock together through feel and dynamics. Some of the album’s thrills, like the tossing, tumbling passages in the middle of “Hyperthral,” “Split” and “IV,” are essentially theirs. Mr. Revis follows his own internal mandate to be stormy or forthright in his improvising, and so does Mr. Vandermark, but they can seem isolated within the project. The record’s a good idea, and a good start; the band needs more time to gestate.

Music and More review by Tim Niland

CF 266Eric Revis 11:11 – Parallax (CF 266)
Bassist Eric Revis has played with Branford Marsalis among many other luminaries in the jazz world. On this album, he leads a fascinating inside-outside band full of star power: Jason Moran on piano, Ken Vandermark on saxophone and clarinet and Nasheet Waits on drums. The musicians pulling in opposite directions could have made for a mess, but far from it, the group plays with a powerful muscularity that makes for a particularly hard-hitting album that comes off as an example of hard-bop for the 21st century. “Hyperthral” begins in a scattered and anxious fashion, developing interplay for sax and drums, and evolving into a burly improvisation filled with power. The excitement builds to a high level of energy full band power. The group comes out fighting on “Split” led by an upbeat piano trio, with strong drumming and ripe keyboard. Ripples and smears of saxophone, pouring ahead, cascade out from Vandermark as the band drives forward in an exciting performance. “IV” features acidic sounding saxophone over a supple bass and drum rhythm, building a real nice modern jazz feel. Moran’s piano ups the ante even further as the music becomes a tumbling landslide. Going way back, “Winin’ Boy Blues,” lurches forward with bluesy saxophone, crashing drums and old-school jazz. Moran has it all under his fingertips and is great here, while Vandermark digs deep growling and spitting. This was a fine album, with some of the best players on the modern jazz scene playing solid originals and a couple of unexpected originals.