WBGO Radar

Eric Revis: In Memory Of Things Yet Seen

cover of Eric Revis's CD In Memory Of Things Yet Seen

Bassist Eric Revis likes to lean forward by listening back.

"It's almost as if the farther back you go, the more modern it sounds," says Revis, about his inspirations for the new album In Memory Of Things Yet Seen, his fourth as a leader and third for the Clean Feed label. 

"Younger musicians are often trapped in the conundrum of hipness," he says, "Their listening may only go back to a certain point, and their development stops there."

Revis's own study of the past has included careful considerations of Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, and early bass pioneers like Bill Johnson, as well as more recent inspirations like the AACM and Sun Ra, whose "In The Shadow World" is featured on the disc.

"It's incredible what someone like Armstrong can accomplish with just five or six notes," he says. "It's so powerful, so elegant." 

The album features saxophonists Darius Jones and Bill McHenry with Chad Taylor on vibes and drums. Tenor saxophonist Bradford Marsalis, in whose group Revis has played since 1997, joins the ensemble for two tracks. 

As this is Revis's first outing with a pianoless group, tracks like "Somethin's Cookin'" may evoke Ornette Coleman's early groups to some ears, but the recording primarily reflects the remarkable chemistry that emerged amongst these musicians, and Revis's arrangements, which bring this uncommonly powerful sound to full flower. 

"Ornette is a kind of constant spiritual reference for me, but this album really emerged out of a body of work, and our work together," he says. 

It is fitting that the album's centerpiece is a three-movement, through-composed suite - "The Tulpa Chronicles" - which evokes a Sanskrit word and concept found in Buddhism, which describes a "thought made manifest through discipline."

Indeed, the group's disciplined approach to creating a sound has borne remarkable fruits on this new album.

    = Tim Wilkins, WBGO digital content producer



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