Eric Revis – Sing Me Some Cry (2017)

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Feature photo: Jati Lindsay

Best known for his work at first with Betty Carter and since then in Branford Marsalis’ band, Eric Revis has built upon that legacy with his involvement with other jazz heavies and leading or co-leading some significant projects (Tarbaby with Orrin Evans and Nasheet Waits comes to mind). Revis’ solo works have revealed him to be much more than a first-call bassist, and his fourth one for Clean Feed Records again confirms that this guy is so underrated as a composer and bandleader. His 2017 release Sing Me Some Cry is the work of someone who is not just a damned good bass player but also a complete artist.

Ostensibly the successor to In Memory of Things Yet Seen (2014), Sing is more of a continuation of Parallex from the prior year, as the piano returns (this time from Kris Davis) and so does Chicago out-jazz lion Ken Vandermark. Drummer Chad Taylor, who has a Windy City connection due to his involvement in Rob Mazurek’s Chicago Underground projects, is held over from Memory.

That’s a pretty badassed line-up and Revis knows just how to exploit it, asking them to push themselves well beyond the comfort zones of the vast majority of musicians, because he’s well aware that they thrive within the radical settings in which he puts them. Probably the most radical idea put forth by Revis is playing with the heart of a traditionalist but the mind of an avanteer.

And Revis signals right off that he’s not intending to play it safe. “Sing Me Some Cry” is diffused, ghoulish and unbounded: Revis’ animated bass is the center around the swirling winds of disquiet conjured up by everyone else wresting odd sounds from their instruments. “Good Company” is inside/outside jazz; mostly Revis’ walking bass portraying the inside while Taylor pulls the proceedings toward the outside with Davis serving as a willing accomplice.

Seriously good syncopation gets “PT 44” off the ground, but soon Vandermark’s tenor takes over and leads the quartet off a cliff. “Rumples” is a funky kind of syncopation and when Davis improvises, she does it right in that fat pocket, as does Vandermark.

Taylor’s rim rhythms provide the foundation for the taut “Rye Eclipse,” where Vandermark pushes back against that rigidity with feverish blows from his tenor horn. “Drunkard’s Lullaby” is a craggy swing, featuring Revis’ “sound of doom; big, thick, percussive,” as once described by Marsalis.

“Glyph” initially confuses, as Revis plays an unhurried figure while Vandermark and Davis go in another direction, but eventually the two streams of thought meet in the middle and the capriciousness soon makes way for jazz played — for the first time right at the end of this record — in a conventional fashion. But handsomely so, nonetheless.

Full of vigor and moxie from start to finish, Sing Me Some Cry harnesses the savvy of its participants, but that vast potential is reached only because Eric Revis has the insight to get so much out of them, and they in turn get the most out of Revis’ compositions.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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