Though best known as an experimental guitarist in the likes of Tortoise, Isotope 217 and the Chicago Underground Trio, on Eastside RompJeff Parker hews closer to his jazz roots in a co-operative trio completed by bassist Eric Revis and drummer Nasheet Waits. Each a leader, Parker's bandmates possess similarly expansive resumés, making their somewhat introspective group focus here a surprise. On a program of five originals from across the band, one cover and one improv, they combine in the antithesis of the power trio, favoring instead calm self-assurance, thoughtful development and absorbing interplay.
Parker mixes cleanly picked lines, in a tone Jim Hall would have been proud of, with more wayward textures which nod towards his edgier sojourns. In fact, he juxtaposes both modes on the opener, Marion Brown's "Similar Limits," where following the skipping head, his distortions twist and thrash like a Sun Ra synth blow out. Here and throughout Revis demonstrates just why he has been a fixture with Branford Marsalis for so long. His blend of rhythm and melody, counterpoint and propulsive riffs ensure constant interest. Waits likewise adds depth, maintaining a chattering commentary at the same time as taking care of business.
Parker's lyrical sensibility further shines during his elegant variations on both his own ballad "Wait" and amid the wide open spaces of Waits' unhurried "Between Nothingness And Infinity" (incidentally the title cut of a fine 2016-released Laborie Records album under his own name). Among other highlights are the equally taut, slightly doomy tension of the drummer's "A Room For VG," the Latin-inflected groove of the collective title track which contrasts with Parker's oblique figures and percussive FX, and the buoyant swing of the final "Watusi," in which Waits stretches out over Parker's riffing guitar, showing there is always space and opportunity for individual expression if you know how to find it.
Similar Limits; Wait; Between Nothingness and Infinity; Drunkard’s Lullaby; That Eastside Romp; A Room
for VG; Watusi.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.