The great style-hopping ensembles and reference-mixologists of experimental rock and jazz – Naked City, Mr. Bungle, Zappa and their progeny – tend to be intentionally flitty and skittish, fevered in the event-tempo of their meme shifts and cultural recombinations, driven by hyper-detailed compositional intelligence, acolytes of the great Looney Tunes house composer Carl Stalling. Much of this music makes a cognitive case that ADHD is not a deficiency at all, but rather an alternative and often-more-relevant mode of connection and awareness.
No so the venerable New York drummer, composer and bandleader Bobby Previte. On paper, Previte might be perceived as an intellectually grounded style-collider of a New York build; but his is not the art of postmodern pastiche, assimilation-recombination, cut-and-paste and the many editorial operations of the meatware sampler. His groove appropriations are deep but not reverent, and the cultural costuming, where it exists at all, is light and non-binding. Spend a couple of afternoons wading through his bottomless catalogue and you will quickly perceive an essential, privileged Previteness to everything that he does.
The essence of Previteness is no mystery. There are some solid ground rules to this music. First, ensemble improvisation (not soloing) is the norm, the baseline, the default. Previte’s compositions are focused-but-loose-fitting vehicles for the internal action of his various groups of top-tier, New York-style squawkers (which often include such local presences as slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein and keyboardist Jamie Saft). He entrusts many of the traditional duties of the composer to the empathic intelligence of the ensemble. Even on the dystopian, neo-blues rock record Coalition of the Willing, Previte keeps the compositional girding pretty lightweight, and the unwavering stylistic coherence of the record has more to do with the collective commitment of the players to the brutal riffage of the concept.
It takes real discipline and oversight, transmitted from the drum chair, to balance form and permission as masterfully as Previte does. So it goes on the luminous noir of Set the Alarm for Monday, the skronky funk of Counterclockwise and the Minimalist soundscaping of Terminals. Deep trust in the players to bring his seeds to flowering: That might be the credo of Previte-the-composer. Of course, this leads to a lot of music that you will perceive as “free,” but not random; Previte’s compositional seeds are unfailingly cool, deep and worth the dwelling attention of his sympathetic ensembles.
As big a name as there is in this genre, Hudson resident Bobby Previte brings the current Bobby Previte Quartet to Quinn’s in Beacon on Friday, October 30. Onboard for the date are Previte, violinist/guitarist Jonathan Talbott, keyboardist Tyler Wood and electric bassist Terence Murren. There is no cover charge, but generous donation is encouraged. Quinn’s is located at 330 Main Street in Beacon. For more information, call (845) 202-7447 of find Quinn’s on Facebook.
Bobby Previte Quartet, Friday, October 30, 9 p.m., no cover, Quinn’s, 330 Main Street, Beacon; (845) 202-7447.