Bobby Avey’s New Solo Album: Dark Riveting Intensity
Bobby Avey’s new album Be Not So Long to Speak takes his game to the next level with a majesty and intensity he more than hinted at on his 2010 debut, A New Face. Since then the pianist has created Authority Melts From Me, a multimedia project exploring the slave rebellion that fueled the 18th century Haitian Revolution, and now this raw, sometimes crushingly powerful, glimmering solo album. It’s a mix of clenched-teeth articulacy and brooding pools of moonlit, swampy menace, setting an unwaveringly creepy tone. Whether you consider this jazz, or indie classical, or both, it’s a lock for one of 2013’s best albums..
Our Fortune Is Running Out of Breath, the opening track, is a brooding tone poem, murkily resonant close harmonies lowlit by eerily glittering upper-register ripples. In Ten Years has waterfalling midrange clusters interspersed with casual jackhammer pedalpoint, retreating to a resonant shadowy gleam and then back. The epic Late November, a surreal, altered boogie, rises, falls and dances, hinting at a Steve Reich-ish circularity and then retreating to dark minimalism.
A quietly elegaic, bell-like pulse underpins the somberly haunting, Satie-tinged Gravity and Stillness. As it turns out, the allusive, slightly herky-jerky P.Y.T. is a cover of a song first recorded by Michael Jackson, redone to the point of unrecognizabilty: it doesn’t seem to be an attempt to connect with the audience that likes that kind of processed cheese. Isolation of Rain and its picturesque drizzling builds a rather morose ambience despite its rapidfire energy, the shadow of Debussy lingering in the background.
Barefoot raises the angst to judiciously spacious, dynamically-charged Satie-esque proportions, picking up with a hard-hitting acidity reminiscent of Louis Andriessen. Time Unfolding grows darker even as it leaps and bounds; the album closes with a version of Stardust that skirts the original with a characteristic resistance to opening the door and taking a few tentative steps out of the icebox. Avey’s next gig is at the Cornelia St. Cafe on March 15 at 9:30 with his quartet including Chris Speed on saxes, Thompson Kneeland on bass and Jordan Perlson on drums.
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