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Why did it take six years for this album to be released? It didn’t take long to make: electric guitarist Jeff Parker, double bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Nasheet Waits spent just one day recording Eastside Romp in a Pasadena studio in late May 2016, and it’s been mixed since 2018. The music certainly hasn’t languished because of an issue with its quality—the session was basically a summit between the formerly Chicago-based string bender and the rhythm section from celebrated jazz ensemble Tarbaby, and all three players shine. The album wastes no time shifting into high gear. After stating the jubilant theme of Marion Brown’s “Similar Limits,” the musicians launch into a propulsive three-way slalom, then converge with a clash like an explosion in a Slinky factory—only to seamlessly snap into a restatement of the theme. For the rest of Eastside Romp, the trio play a variety of instrumentals composed by each member. Parker’s “Wait” is an importuning ballad whose melody practically demands to be delivered with one knee on the ground and one hand over the heart—except that it’d be tough for the guitarist to hold that pose, given that it sounds like he needs four limbs to play the shimmering, effects-laden solo that clinches his plea for pause. Revis’s ironically titled “Drunkard’s Lullaby” draws a zigzagging path that even a stone-cold-sober gymnast might have a hard time walking without stumbling; the trio negotiate it handily, with a thrilling combination of rhythmic precision and electronic distortion. And Waits’s “A Room for VG” uses sparse notes and reluctantly deployed drumbeats to mold silence into exquisite shapes. Maybe one day we’ll find out why this music spent so long under wraps, but even without that answer it’s profoundly satisfying to hear Parker, Revis, and Waits reconcile accessibility and abstraction.
Jeff Parker, Eric Revis, and Nasheet Waits’s Eastside Romp is available through Rogueart’s website.