As kids most of us are bombarded with Radio,TV and press adds of bass players of the electric persuasion. These influences can be the very reason why we choose to play electric bass and continue to do so until some friend/teacher or player turns our head to the double bass – one such player is Eric Revis.
For the double bass and jazz players out there you may be familiar with his solo work or have heard him as a sideman with people such as Russell Gunn, Raul Midon or Roy Haynes. If these names don’t mean anything to you then you should be familiar with his work from one of the worlds GREATEST quartets – The Branford Marsalis Quartet (BMQ).
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Eric or think that double bass is a dirty word then I would urge you to check him out – whilst the “clinic heads” may leave disappointed as there is no slapping, cool lights on the amp, or frenzy of licks played over a instrumentalists solo (“what do you mean you don’t want a bass solo whilst the guitarist was taking his solo spot”) everyone that sees him play leaves the gig without a shadow of doubt regarding the role of a bass player.
To explain this one of the stories Eric tells in our video is about Branford using the analogy of basketball centre shooting 3 pointers ……..”what the *&^% good is that -it’s not his function”. Whilst there is a time and a place for bass solos (check out Eric’s live spot when the BMQ play Black Elk Speaks) the primary function is about playing and making the band members sound and feel good. If any of you have ever been fortunate enough to witness the BMQ live then you will know exactly what he means by this.
There is no question that all members (Joey, Tain, Eric and Branford) are “monsters” in their own right– but seeing them perform live as one unit is something that reinforces in my own head what a GREAT musician and musicianship is all about – I will try and explain what I mean.
I have been fortunate enough to see Eric and the guys on numerous occasions – some of these with fans of the music, others with “non jazz” friends who came with their own insurance policy – that I refund the ticket if they didn’t like the gig. Whilst it’s great to sit there with fans that understand and marvel at what you are witnessing on stage, I personally get more out of the “non jazz” friends that come to the gig and leave with that same sense of awe as this to me is the very definition of a GREAT musician/musicainship; when an audience member who knows nothing about the art (in this case bass) or understands the language (in this case jazz) can be touched by the emotion that permeates from a musician (or group), that will get my vote any day over a guy that can sit there and shove endless licks into a solo spot to simply display his musical vocab.
I am sure you have all heard this sort before but the thing I find interesting when talking to these guys is that part of you expects mid way through to be given the golden key, the “great hidden secret of the art”, that one gem of wisdom that only the inner circle knows about…….but it all comes back to the same basic principles that we are ALL taught – these guys just happen to have executed it a few more times and developed it to what we see and hear in front of us.
If you want to see what else Eric has to say then check out our video preview. I would also recommend to anyone who hasn’t seen the DVD A Love Supreme live in Amsterdam to check it out and of course Eric’s first solo offering Tales of the Stuttering Mime.