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Eric Revis: Sound & Scope

Communicating confidence

Darius Jones, Bill McHenry, Eric Revis and Chad Taylor (from left)
Eric Revis
Eric Revis

“The thing that Eric Revis has, that he plays with, I don’t know if it can be acquired,” says saxophonist Branford Marsalis, whose renowned quartet features the bassist. “It’s not so much a big sound, it’s a big beat. He plays with a certain kind of physical authority you don’t find very often anymore.”

That idea of “physical authority” in music seems abstract until a few nights later, when Revis takes the stage at Manhattan’s Jazz Standard as part of the Kurt Rosenwinkel Quartet. A tall, fit man wearing a gray suit jacket over a plaid shirt, Revis plays a single note to introduce the opening number. It thumps in the ear, but with nowhere near the impact it makes in the chest and stomach. That impact doesn’t recede throughout the set, even when the full ensemble is playing. Rosenwinkel’s is a virtuoso group, including pianist Aaron Parks and drummer Kendrick Scott in addition to the leader, arguably the most acclaimed guitarist of his generation. Revis takes a backseat to none of them. Their playing is sublime; his is palpable.

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