Take three popular and progressive mainstream jazz artists with distinct reputations and styles. Throw in a recording label known for diverse music. Add a heavy dose of experimentation, and stir.
Latitude is the first of three recordings featuring guitarist Charlie Hunter and drummer Bobby Previte in their side venture group, Groundtruther. Each recording will feature a different guest artist forming a trio with the intent of creating spontaneous musical themes utilizing synthesized sounds and abstract ideas. The first guest is none other than alto sax stylist Greg Osby.
The concept is not entirely a surprise, as Hunter and Previte recorded '03's Come In Red Dog, This Is Tango Leader , which featured the duo in a similar setting. Osby has also worked with both musicians over the past few years and experimented with hip-hop elements on very early recordings. Fans may be in for quite a surprise to find the musicians in these unusual waters.
Experimentation is a key element and the music is delivered as what could be deemed as sound collages, rather than standard melodic compositions. The instrumental thrust of the recording is the heavy use of electronics and drums, combined with Hunter's unusual bass/guitar effects. Osby fills in the pieces with subtle horn work as he weaves in and out of the patterns delivering sparse solos. From the ominous intro of "North Pole," the recording is primed to deliver something unusual as Hunter's guitar echoes lightly behind Previte's barrage of electronics, with Osby's alto quietly joining then segueing into the hip-hop beat of "Artic Circle."
Each musician is open to spontaneity, yet at times the delivery of the techno language is cold and somewhat machine-like on pieces such as "Horse Latitudes North and South." But things do get interesting on the quasi-urban "40th Parallel," with its bayou-like voice effects and hyped drum work. The cool vibe on "Tropic of Cancer" finds Hunter delivering a funky bass line and sonic guitar work as Previte provides jungle-like effects.
Osby's role is somewhat minimal, but he comes to the forefront on the atmospheric "Anarctic Circle" with his trademark alto voice as Hunter and Previte add the background mood. The recording both hits and misses the mark, with technical magic at times overshadowing the human element. It will be interesting to see where the next sessions ( Longitude and Altitude ) lead and how the different guest artists will affect the dynamics of the music.
Personnel: Charlie Hunter: 8-string guitar; Bobby Previte: drums and electronics; Greg Osby: alto