Perhaps no club in the city upholds the jazz tradition better than Smalls. But in doing so, they have also forged a new tradition through the younger generations of musicians who play there. With that in mind, the booking of bassist Eric Revis’ quartet (Sep. 4th-5th) was not as surprising as perceived initially. Yes, Revis may be Branford Marsalis or Kurt Rosenwinkel’s bassist but he also works with Andrew Cyrille and Peter Brötzmann, subverters of the tradition to be sure. His own quartet was filled with equally strong personalities: saxophonists Darius Jones and Bill McHenry, with drummer Chad Taylor alongside the leader in the rhythm section. And tradition is a funny thing. To close the first set of the second night, nearly an hour of music that included Revis originals from the group’s forthcoming album and a tune by free jazz legend Sunny Murray, the quartet played “The Shadow World” by Sun Ra, followed by Johnny Hodges’ “Wiggle Awhile”, two sides of ‘60s large ensemble jazz. And in assembling his frontline, Revis couldn’t find two more complementary and respectful-of-the- tradition players than Jones and McHenry, who navigated the tense arrangements with impassioned focus, never battling each other but fusing into a covalent voice. During the Sun Ra, Jones began bleating with such fury, he sounded like a sheep being electrocuted, followed by McHenry’s foghorn tenor solo. Anyone who came in during the finger-snappin’ closer had no idea what they missed. – Andrey Henkin

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