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Friday, February 10, 2012

Bobby Previte and the New Bump - Live at the Amphitheatre (2011) ****

By Joe Higham

When speaking about Bobby Previte you're talking about the roots of the New York downtown scene(*). Previte and musicians, John Zorn, Ellery Eskelin, Wayne Horowitz, Elliot Sharp or Bill Frisell, were all in at the beginning of this whole movement which celebrates the alternative side of what improvised music could/should be. Previte's music has always been a mix of inspiring and challenging writing with great soloists, mostly very accessible, and certainly never less than inspiring His groups (or projects) have ranged from solo work, the 'Weather Clear, Track Fast' septet, 'The Pan Atlantic Band' and a nice duo with Marc Ducret. As a drummer/composer his writing pays as much attention to melody as to rhythm, and naturally the interaction with his bands certainly produces sparks as on this record and possibly the sum of those elements, great melodies, rolling beats, tight arrangements and stellar soloing from all concerned.

New Bump is made up of long time associates; Bill Ware (vibes), Ellery Eskelin (sax), Brad Jones (bass) and - of course - Bobby Previte on drums. A powerful group that shows their skill and experience after having played together since years, playing a punchy jazz that's melodic and modern. Bill Ware plays equally strong vibes either as an accompanist or soloist. It's an instrument that lends itself to so many styles as testifies the recent playing of Chris Dingman, Jason Adasiewicz or even the mixed vibes lines in Tortoise. Ellery Eskelin is a sax player who remains a true original. His playing is a marvel to hear, a truly inspired saxophonist with an amazing sound concept and soloing style that is truly his own. Able to play convincingly in all areas of music, and someone who deserves wider recognition outside of the 'musicians in the know' circle. Together Eskelin and Ware equally divide the front line job of melody and soloist yet there are many moments when the two players shadow each other, creating lines inspired by the other. Previte and Brad Jones play their role sitting neatly on the fence between jazz and a more rock-ish style. Bobby Previte's writing on this release encompasses boogaloo, rock, jazz and more, giving the two front line players plenty of material to work with. Tunes such as 'The Saint', 'D is for Drums' all rock along, or the changing sections of 'The Inexorable March Towards Brutality' keep you guessing, in fact all the tunes are excellent. 'Don't Tell Pilar', 'Client 9' and 'Probably Not' all have wonderful melodies and plenty of exciting twists and turns, and to add to the whole every solo is truly exciting.

You're not going to get any free form improvisations or experimental sound manipulations just - as David Lynch (@AMG) wrote - "fiery jazz expressionism and layered counterpoint that suggests elements of contemporary minimalism". A great album that doesn't brake any rules or new ground but is truly absorbing from start to finish. Highly Satisfying!     

Listen, buy, or generally enjoy at Bandcamp.

* = Of course the Downtown Scene covered many areas of music from minimalism of Steve Reich and Philip Glass, performance art of Laurie Anderson and many others. Check out Wiki's entry on downtown to get a general idea. 

© stef