Away from his tenure with Branford Marsalis, bassist Eric Revis continues in the adventurous vein established by his previous dates on the Clean Feed imprint. His latest group if anything operates even more on the edge. With the return of reedman Ken Vandermark into the fold, Revis has a unit to die for. The Chicago-based hornman joins pianist Kris Davis, already a fixture on Revis' trio sessions City Of Asylum (2013) and Crowded Solitudes (2016), and drummer Chad Taylor, who manned the engine room on the quintet outing In Memory Of Things Yet Seen (2014). They excel on a program of nine tracks, including charts from each member as well as one cover.
A prime reason for the band's success is how well Vandermark and Davis connect. The saxophonist trades on a winning mix of R&B-inspired riffs and expressive textures which mesh well with Davis' penchant for sturdily reiterated figures. Add Revis' sprung rhythms and Taylor's ability to create a compelling thrust from unusual components and the excitement when they zero in on a staggered beat is hard to match. Vandermark's barnstorming "Good Company" provides only the first evidence on the disc, as well as a terrific jaunt for Davis. Her sinewy chattering runs locks into slowly mutating phrases which flow onwards in fits and starts until exploding in a scatter of keys.
Other high energy pieces include the leader's whirlwind "Pt 44" and Davis' tremendous "Rye Eclipse" which culminates in a visceral charge with Vandermark's tenor saxophone screaming over a pounding throb. Their rendition of Adam Rogers' turbo funked "Rumples," while taken slightly slower than the original nonetheless gives the convoluted melody an effervescent airing.
There's more introspective fare too which allows the pulse to settle. On "Solstice....The Girls (For Max & Xixi)" Vandermark's clarinet coolly saunters over a tapestry woven from repeated pizzicato, conversational toms and a koto-like line from prepared piano, while on the title cut the bassist's soliloquy straddles an open abstract collective, supplemented by drifting electronically modulated voices.
The only slight misstep comes in the episodic ballad "Glyph" with the jarring fade-in of scratchy sax and piano dialogue under Revis' reflective solo, but that's a small blemish on an otherwise beaming visage. In fact it's one of Revis' finest since the aforementioned City Of Asylum.
Sing Me Some Cry; Good Company; Pt 44; Solstice....The Girls (For Max & Xixi); Obliogo; Rye Eclipse; Rumples; Drunkard’s Lullaby; Glyph.
Eric Revis: bass; Ken Vandermark: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Kris Davis: piano; Chad Taylor: drums.