It is often said that in youth one is more idealistic and liberal, and with age comes pragmatism and social conservatism. Well, someone ought to tell Bobby Previte, because it seems he missed the memo. A downtown scene luminary, composer and percussionist extraordinaire, Previte pushes ever further a field with The Coalition of the Willing. When most musicians his age would consider thinking about recording a standards program or a ballad session, Previte, ever the contrarian, does just the opposite.
Charting the developmental course of Previte and guitarist Charlie Hunter, his dedicated duo partner since the beginning of the new decade, proves enlightening. In their formative years, both enjoyed the turbulent blues and rock music of their youth before building "respectable" jazz careers. Gradually, each musician began reincorporating those youthful elements into their work, but never as prominently as they have recently. On this album they delve even further into the sounds of their past for inspiration for the future. And the future sounds great.
With its focus on soaring, major-key melody tempered by the occasional hint of weary melancholy, Previte's writing is perfectly suited to rousing, revolutionary anthems. He revisits and reinterprets a number of his classic themes here to excellent effect. Adding dense electronic textures and raw improvisation to Previte's driving rhythms, which veer from boisterous, futuristic blues jams and grooving funk vamps to ethereal, dub inspired psychedelic soundscapes, the Coalition roams unfettered.
The band is an all-star ensemble, including saxophonist Skerik, Sex Mob trumpeter and arranger Steven Bernstein, bluesy harmonica and slide guitarist Stew Cutler, and occasional drummer Stanton Moore. The core group consists of Previte's two most dedicated collaborators. Charlie Hunter's twangy distorted lead dominates, and producer and vintage keyboardist Jamie Saft smears his signature analog sound all over the record. The basic template derives from the core trio's driving, experimental, roadhouse blues band aesthetic.
This new lineup combines classic elements of Previte's previous flagship bands. The electric Empty Suits band debuted a number of the thematic motifs expressed here, and his guitar-heavy, avant-bar band Latin For Travellers also featured Saft and Cutler. The new ensemble shares many similarities with that group, but it rocks harder, harder even than his recent Groundtruther project.
Drawing on key elements from George Orwell's 1984 as fodder for song titles and liner notes, Previte insinuates revolutionary politics with this instrumental album. While the success of such endeavors is generally more respected than realized, Previte has succeeded in providing a raucous soundtrack for an unlikely, but much needed revolution.
Personnel: Bobby Previte: drums, percussion; Charlie Hunter: electric guitar, electric bass; Steven Bernstein: trumpet, slide trumpet; Jamie Saft: organ, mellotron, moog, electric guitar, electric bass; Skerik: tenor and baritone saxophone; Stanton Moore: drums; Stew Cutler: harmonica, slide guitar.