A seminal figure in the Downtown New York scene, drummer and composer Bobby Previte resurrected his Bump the Renaissance ensemble for the cinematic Set The Alarm For Monday. Previte's venerable acoustic group has featured a rotating roster of talent over the years, including Ray Anderson, Curtis Fowlkes, Wayne Horvitz, Lenny Picket, Steve Swallow and Tom Varner. Ellery Eskelin (tenor saxophone), Bill Ware (vibes) and Brad Jones (bass) form the current incarnation, with special guests Steven Bernstein (trumpet) and Jim Pugliese (percussion).
Conceived as a long form suite, the album opens gradually, working through progressions in mood episodically. Narrative song titles like "She Has Information" and "There Was Something In My Drink," suggest an evocative film-noir atmosphere that unravels like chapters from a pulp novel; each tune is another act in the continuing saga.
An aura of suspenseful mystery permeates the session, which unfolds with foreboding drama, intermittently punctuated by rousing anthems. Book-ended by enigmatic tone poems, the core of the record features simmering ostinatos and driving vamps that conjure scenes of shadowy rendezvous at secret after- hours clubs and frenzied chases down seedy back alleys. Driving these pieces, Previte unfurls a multitude of Latinized polyrhythms, with tasteful syncopated accents provided by Jim Pugliese.
Bill Ware and Brad Jones, longstanding members of the Jazz Passengers, have ample experience in this milieu. Jones' intricate winding bass lines offer a sinewy foundation for Ware's kaleidoscopic vibes, which stage effervescent tableaus for Ellery Eskelin and Steven Bernstein to explore.
A singular stylist, Eskelin's wooly timbre and taut phrases mesh soundly with Bernstein's highly expressive pre-swing aesthetic, which resounds with smears, growls and buzzing mutes. Together they trade sinuous cadences and soaring intervals, uncoiling circuitous refrains and plangent cries.
As fellow veterans of the fertile Downtown scene, the sextet delivers these stylish urban panoramas with convincing flair, effortlessly shifting from brooding atmospherics to sultry Latin grooves. Previte's most rewarding acoustic album in years, Set The Alarm For Monday effectively captures the mythic soul of Gotham after dark.
Personnel: Bobby Previte: drums; Ellery Eskelin: tenor saxophone; Steven Bernstein: trumpet; Bill Ware: vibraphone; Brad Jones: bass; Jim Pugliese: percussion.