"You can never have enough rhythm," says Eric McPherson, one of two drummers in Aethereal Bace, inciting a hearty laugh from his bandmates.
Aethereal Bace is a trio comprised of a tenor saxophonist, Abraham Burton, flanked by a bulwark of drums — Nasheet Waits on the left channel, McPherson on the right — in a tightly configured collaboration. The three are childhood friends who have made music together for nearly thirty years. "Playing with these guys is organic and natural because these are the first people I played with," says Burton. "That's who was around, so we played together."
They grew up in Manhattan's West Village, an area steeped in the history of modern jazz. Their knowledge of the music is first-hand. Eric is the godchild of bassist Richard Davis. Nasheet is the son of Freddie Waits, a drummer who played in Max Roach's M'Boom, the group that set the bar for percussion ensembles. As children, Nasheet and Eric were drum technicians for the elder Waits, setting up his kit for gigs at the Village Vanguard and elsewhere around New York.
Saxophonist Abraham Burton started jamming with Eric McPherson in the early 1980s. Nasheet Waits joined them for performances at the Jazz Cultural Theater, a legendary community space founded by pianist Barry Harris. A band was born.
In this WBGO session for The Checkout, we hear a composition from each member of Aethereal Bace. McPherson contributes "Future." Waits wrote "Push." Burton penned the final incantation, "Third Eye Punta."
That last song is a reference to the band's other moniker, the mystically leaning sobriquet, Third Eye. They've undergone a series of name changes over the years, but one thing endures — the joy of making music collectively — come what may. "Sometimes they get a little greedy," says Burton, referring to his rhythmic fomenters. "But I'm a pretty greedy guy myself. I like to indulge. Whenever I do something, I like to do it in abundance. I'm an extremist like that. As far as I'm concerned, being around two of the most creative musicians of our time is a great pleasure."