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Set The Alarm For Monday by Bobby Previte and New Bump

The term ‘crime jazz’ refers to the sort of doomy, gritty, minor-key, somewhat mysterious jazz you’d expect to hear in the soundtrack of some forgotten late 50s crime drama. On Set The Alarm For Monday, Bobby Previte - one of the great unheralded jazz composers of our time, and a first-rate drummer - plunges headlong into the creepy, seamy underworld of Pulp Fiction jazz and comes up with one of the year's very best recordings in any genre. As usual, Previte's compositions are the focal point. His writing is replete with smoky, woozy melodies built on quirky rhythmic devices that build layers of tension. Yet, there is a spareness and lightness to Previte's compositions which sidesteps all of that clichéd 'Peter Gunn' type stuff you might expect to hear on a film noir-inspired disc.

A large part of this disc's success can also be chalked up to Previte’s amazing backing band. The New Bump is populated by top-rank musicians - each of them bandleaders and innovators in their own right. Vibraphonist Bill Ware is best known as the co-leader of the Groove Collective. Saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and trumpeter Steve Bernstein each have an armload of impressive solo CDs under their belts (including Bernstein's work with Sex Mob). All three contribute incisive, eloquent, and beautifully-paced solos that manage to fit in with Previte's vision while maintaining their essential individuality. Though Set The Alarm For Monday is a far cry from the Groove Collective's exuberantly danceable Latin-funk-jazz fusion, vibraphonist Bill Ware has a big, dark sound that is a perfect for Previte's nocturnal cinematic vision.

The CD opens with Ware's spooky vibes swapping a laconic, sing-song melody with Ellery Eskelin's smoky tenor over a terse bass-drums groove. Tension builds from track to track, first peaking on 'Were You Followed?' - a tune that is the aural equivalent of discovering a warm corpse in a wet, cold alley at midnight. After the startling, almost heraldic theme, Bernstein and Eskelin unspool soulful, expressive solos over polymetric congas, drums and vibes. Brad Jones' woody bass sets up 'I'm On To Her' which unexpectedly flips over into a sort of mutated cha-cha. Again, Eskelin and Bernstein steal the scene with back-to-back solos that twist, turn, and dart off into the unknown just like the plot of a good whodunit. The penetrating, funky groove of 'There Was Something In My Drink' provides a platform for freewheeling free-jazz informed solos by the two hornmen, who unexpectedly pair off at various junctures to play Previte's written structures. 'You're In Over Your Head' is pure dark atmosphere, with Bernstein's Harmon-muted trumpet leading the way through dense musical fog.

Long-time fans of Bobby Previte's work will find that the overall tone of Set The Alarm For Monday is quite similar to that of his solo debut, Bump The Renaissance, which also featured a remarkable tenor sax soloist (Lenny Pickett), and hypnotic minimalist-inspired polyrhythms. Yet, the music here is entirely fresh and new. For those investigating Bobby Previte's music for the first time, Set The Alarm For Monday is an excellent place to start.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Bobby Previte and New Bump
  • CD Title: Set The Alarm For Monday
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Palmetto Records
  • Rating: Five Stars
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