Why did it take six years for this album to come out? It didn’t take long: electric guitarist Jeff Parker, bassist Eric Revis and drummer Nasheet Waits only spent a day recording Romp Eastside in a Pasadena studio in late May 2016, and it’s been mixed since 2018. The music certainly didn’t languish because of a quality issue – the session was essentially a pinnacle between the former Chicago-based string bender and the rhythm section of the famous jazz ensemble Tarbaby, and the three musicians shine. The album does not take long to move up a gear. After laying out the jubilant theme to Marion Brown’s “Similar Limits,” the musicians launch into a propulsive three-way slalom, then converge with a clash like a Slinky factory explosion, only to then seamlessly engage in a restatement. of the theme. For the rest of Romp Eastside, the trio plays a variety of instruments composed by each member. Parker’s “Wait” is an importunate ballad whose melody practically demands to be spoken with one knee on the ground and one hand over one’s heart, except that it would be hard for the guitarist to hold that pose, given that it seems needing four members to play the shimmering, effects-laden solo that concludes his plea for a break. Revis’s ironically titled “Drunkard’s Lullaby” lays out a zigzag path that even a sober gymnast can struggle to walk without tripping; the trio negotiates it with ease, with a thrilling combination of rhythmic precision and electronic distortion. And Waits’ “A Room for VG” uses sparse notes and reluctantly deployed drumbeats to shape the silence into exquisite shapes. Maybe one day we’ll find out why this music has been kept secret for so long, but even without that answer, it’s deeply satisfying to hear Parker, Revis and Waits reconcile accessibility and abstraction.
Jeff Parker, Eric Revis and Nasheet Waits Romp Eastside is available on the Rogueart website.