Lucid Culture


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.

March 2, 2013 Posted by | avant garde music, jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bobby Avey Makes an Auspicious Debut

Pianist Bobby Avey’s debut album A New Face instantly elevates him into the ranks of formidable 21st century players like Vijay Iyer, Gerald Clayton, and Marc Cary. Intense, forceful and fearless, Avey has a powerful lefthand like Kenny Barron, a fondness for ominous modal excursions and a vivid sense of melody that hovers between the noir, the Romantics and Olivier Messiaen at his most otherworldly. Along with the other members of his trio, bassist Thomson Kneeland and drummer Jordan Pearlson, this album features the always estimable Dave Liebman guesting on soprano and tenor sax on four tracks. The chemistry between players matches the quality of the compositions: if there’s been a better jazz debut album this year, we haven’t heard it.

The opening track, Late November begins with a machine-gun circular motif that Avey eventually leaves to the bass and drums and hovers over with a noirish glimmer – and then takes it down to a minefield of modal incisions on the third verse. Much of this album has a bracing third-stream feel and this is a prime example. Meanwhile, throughout most of the song, Pearlson and Kneeland lock in and hammer with Avey, something they do with considerable relish throughout the album. The second cut, In Retreat is a potently evocative, bitter, brooding ballad, Liebman adding understated grey tones over Avey’s richly melodic crescendos, agitated but completely in control. Kneeland takes it out into the depths with a woundedly syncopated solo. Delusion is a study in understated chromatics and rhythmic shifts, another Kneeland solo early on its quiet highlight. The title track kicks off with a tense, macabre-tinged bass solo which Avey expands eerily – it’s a Sam Fuller film played out in the churchyard at Saint-Sulpice, Liebman playing the role of semi-friendly ghost.

After the stalker intro of Less is Less Than Half, the drums prowl around Avey’s minimalism, building to a crashing McCoy Tyner style lefthand hook that winds up in a hammering, fiery, percussive blaze. By contrast, Influence, a duo piece for piano and tenor, shifts between a golden age late 50s vibe and an uneasily unwinding, ripplingly horizontal piano soundscape. The final cuts here reach genuinely majestic heights. Insight unfolds with Avey hammering on an insistent staccato pedal note, expands to a chromatic vamp that he roams around, eventually a marvelously terse chromatic bass solo, and then it all comes together, glimmering and intense. Likewise, Time Unfolding finally throws restraint to the wind after giving Liebman the chance to rove expansively and then finally plunge into the rhythm section’s staccato syncopation before Avey and then Pearlson take it all the way up. Avey’s ceiling is pretty much as high as he want to go with it. Hope you like traveling, dude.

August 10, 2010 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment