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A mysterious dame with gams to the ceiling walks in. Shifty characters with trench coats and perilously dangling cigarettes move among the shadows. A mickey is slipped, the double-cross completed. A tenor sax moans amid shimmering vibraphone, a spare bass line and imploring drums.
Drummer Bobby Previte's Set the Alarm for Monday may not be the soundtrack to a classic film noir, though he and The New Bump evocatively conjure those moods. No stranger to the genre, Previte's Bump the Renaissance band of the late 1980s was often described in cinematic terms and he was integral to composer John Zorn's "Spillane," an aural homage to the hardboiled fiction writer.
The opening title tune immediately establishes the ambiance. Ellery Eskelin's tenor and Bill Ware's vibraphone call and respond the same hazy melodic line, over Brad Jones' languid bass and Previte's bluesy groove. The tune smolders with virtually no improvisation. Chattering Latin drums and a brass blast from guestspercussionist Jim Pugliese and trumpeter Steven Bernsteinlaunch "I'd Advise You Not to Miss Your Train," the horns doubling its dramatic theme and the vibes offering counterpoint before taking the spotlight. The horns weave a sinewy line for the swanky "Were You Followed?" and exchange slinky quips, deftly punctuated by Previte and supported by Jones' stiff line on "There Was Something in My Drink." The concluding "Wake Up Andrea, We're Pulling In" reprises the title track, though loosened for improvising on the theme, hinting at where the music could go.
It was a stormy night when Previte and The New Bump previewed the music at New York's Tea Lounge (May 1, 2008). Sans Bernstein and Pugliese, there was more space within the music allowing for longer solos and several vigorous exchanges between Eskelin and Ware. Previte and Jones tested the malleability of "Drink," shifting its feel, even stretching a driving rock beat. Throughout the performance Previte masterfully directed the music: spurring and reeling it back with well-placed fills and frequently displacing grooves around the drum set, incorporating toms, rims and cowbells for percussive flair and variety.
Not a retro pursuit, Previte's thematic compositions nod to the past, but bristle with modern rhythmic and improvisatory sensibilities.
Track Listing: Set the Alarm for Monday; I'd Advise You Not to Miss Your Train; She Has Information; Were You Followed?; I'm On to Her; There Was Something in My Drink; You're In Over Your Head; Drive South, Along the Canyon; Wake Up Andrea, We're Pulling In.
Personnel: Bobby Previte: drums; Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone; Steven Bernstein: trumpet; Bill Ware: vibraphone; Brad Jones: bass; Jim Pugliese: percussion.