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Album Review

Robby Ameen: Diluvio

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Robby Ameen: Diluvio
Perhaps it's a flood of rhythm that the title and cover art refer to on this third leader outing from drumming dynamo Robby Ameen. A heavy hitter in Afro-Cuban circles for decades, Ameen's frangible linear Latin funk workouts, intricate rhythmic roadmapping, song-serving chops and good taste have earned him an overwhelmingly positive reputation. Everybody from musical polymath Rubén Blades to flutist Dave Valentin and pianist Eddie Palmieri to trombonist Conrad Herwig has called on Ameen multiple times over the years, and he's never failed to impress in the employ of those musical giants. Of course, the work under his own name also carries its own fiery charms worth recognizing. Ameen's on-record meetings with fellow drummer Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez are percussively bubbling cauldrons, and his two prior leader dates—both under the Two and Four imprint—proved dynamic in their melding of styles and syntax.

Diluvio, Ameen's first date on the Origin Records label, calls on familiar faces and a signature blend of sounds and substances. Longtime Ameen associates like Herwig, saxophonists Troy Roberts and Bob Franceschini, bassist Lincoln Goines and pianist Bill O'Connell fit the music to a T, with an Afro-Cuban acuity, framed in malleable modern terms, serving as a through line connecting songs of varied sorts. Firestarter "Fast Eye" deals in synchronous choppy lines and high-energy grooves that bring the funk. "Cremant" cools things down a bit, coloring a patient yet resolute straight-time flow in shades of blue. "Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und Gott, BWV 127: Aria" uses a soprano saxophone tandem to deliver the melodious beauty of J.S. Bach while Ameen's subtle drumming and Mauricio Herrera's percussion lend this Baroque excursion a gentle undercurrent. And "Line for Lyons" recontextualizes Gerry Mulligan's medium swing scenario with lively Latin underpinnings that, nevertheless, still hint at points of origin.

For the majority of this material, Ameen favors a quintet or sextet lineup with multiple horns and/or percussion mixing it up to good effect. Two late-in-the-game offerings, however, go a different way. "Into The Clear" presents a quartet intent on playing to the stars, with Roberts delivering some twilit tenor, O'Connell gliding over the keys and Ameen using brushes to slide beneath it all; and an all-too-brief duo take on John Coltrane's "Impressions" pairs Ameen with Roberts. With an eye on music from every angle, a fluid approach to Afro-Cuban and jazz vocabularies, and four limbs that often sound like twice as many, Robby Ameen seriously delivers on Diluvio. But was there ever any thought that he wouldn't?

Track Listing

Fast Eye; Cremant; Tempest Dance; Herr Jesu Christ, wahr' Mensch und Gott, BWV 127: Aria; The Drifter's Plan; Mixology; Into the Clear; Line for Lyons; Impressions.

Personnel

Robby Ameen: drums; Troy Roberts: saxophone; Bob Franceschini: saxophone, tenor; Conrad Herwig: trombone; Edsel Gomez: piano; Bill O'Connell: piano; Lincoln Goines: bass; Mauricio Herrera: percussion.

Album information

Title: Diluvio | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Origin Records

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