Monday, June 2, 2008

Bobby Previte's New Record is Bumpin'

Well, to be fair, Bobby Previte is always bumpin'. It doesn't matter which of his countless groups he's playing with, be it Groundtruther, Latin for Travellers, or his dizzying fusion group Weather Clear Track Fast, Previte's playing and compositions are always brilliant, and his bands are always made up of some of New York's best musicians. "Set the Alarm for Monday," his recent record with his band The New Bump, is no exception; it features such luminaries as Steven Bernstein (who, as I've mentioned before, always hovers near the top of Downbeat's rising star trumpet list) and Ellery Eskelin (who should hover near the top of Downbeat's rising star tenor list by now) and a set of all new compositions from Previte.

The album opens up in an incredible mellow fashion with the title track before moving into film noir territory, an area the album occupies for the rest of it's time. Songs like "I'd Advise You Not to Miss Your Train" and "I'm On to Her" evoke scenes of depravity in side-streets, and Bernstein, Eskelin, and vibes player Bill Ware are all brilliant in adding colour and detail to that image during their solos. Just listen to "There Was Something in My Drink," in which Ware, Previte, and bassist Brad Jones provide a backdrop groove; Eskelin's solo is brilliant in it's simplicity and fiery passion, but Bernstein manages to outshine him by playing a solo with so many odd twists and extended vocal techniques that it would make Dave Douglas proud. In all honesty, however, comparing Bernstein to Douglas is unfair. Bernstein's work on this album in particular is much darker than anything Douglas has put out in a while.

Of particular note in addition to "There Was Something in My Drink" is "Were You Followed," in which Eskelin plays one of the single most interesting solos I've ever heard. Managing to meld motivic development, interesting scale and note choices, and a free jazz aesthetic, his solo shows that there is no one else in jazz quite like him. The album closer, "Wake Up Andrea, We're Pulling In," is a longer play on the opening title track, and features some good vibes work from Ware; by the time the album is over you barely even realize that it's been almost an hour. Recommended for people fond of downtown jazz-noir (If you love John Zorn's "Spillane," for example, you'll love this).

Next time I'll have something. I don't know exactly what that something will be yet, but check back! Seriously, it'll be worth your while.

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