Too Close to the Pole

COMPOSERS: Bobby Previte
LABELS: Enja
ALBUM TITLE: Bobby Previte
PERFORMER: Bobby Previte (d, arr); Cuong Vu (tpt); Curtis Hasselbring (tmb); Andrew D’Angelo (as, bs-clt); Andy Laster (bari, clt, fl); Jamie Saft (kbds); Lindsey Horner (b)
CATALOGUE NO: ENJ 9306-2 (distr. New Note)

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Since Claude’s Late Morning from 1988, Previte has developed two quite specific ensembles: his acoustic band Weather Clear, Track Fast and his electric group Empty Suits.

Described by the New York Times as ‘one of the smartest composers to come of musical age in the 1980s’, his music gloriously resists convenient pigeon-holing and is a welcome antidote to the current proliferation of albums that remain stuck in the mud of the safe, consumer-friendly hard-bop mainstream championed by Wynton Marsalis.

Interestingly, the arrangements here for his Weather Clear band move from his oblique take on hard bop towards the style of his Empty Suits group and it comes as no surprise to learn that Weather Clear has recently been experimenting with two guitars instead of the saxophones. Using conventional instruments in unconventional ways, Previte’s music is bold, exciting and heads for a place where jubilation reigns.

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While the mainstream of jazz journeys back to the certainties of the past, Previte is ever changing, always demonstrating an original context to present improvisation. Today everybody is a virtuoso, but it’s no good using that virtuosity to recreate the Blue Note albums of the late Fifties; jazz has got to move forward and it’s re-thinkers like Previte who are showing the way. SN