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Swami LatePlate (Jamie Saft and Bobby Previte): Doom Jazz

Kurt Gottschalk By

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Although Jamie Saft is best known as a jazz pianist, especially for his work with various Masada projects, he's a rocker at heart who lists ZZ Top among his favorite bands. Swami LatePlate—his duo with drummer Bobby Previte—seeks to a degree to cross the divide. In one sense a piano trio, with Saft doubling on electric bass, the project borrows as much from heavy rock sensibilities. Their debut album and the first on Saft's new label Veal, falls closer to the jazz side, but the title indicates the process that got them there.

Using doom—a slow, foreboding style of heavy metal—as a template, the duo crafts a set of songs that creeps along powerfully. The themes are simple, generally carried by subdued bass lines and ornamented by the piano like salt on a glacier. What jumps out most is Previte's drumming. Every cymbal vibration and snare snap leaps to the foreground and, with rare exception, decays before the next strike, as much a testament to Previte's assured playing as Saft's engineering. The sound throughout is bright and super present.

Ultimately, the record bears more than a little resemblance to the great and longstanding Australian trio The Necks. Each moment is its own event, each note frozen in amber. Regardless of the rock modeling, the disc is likely to satisfy Saft and Previte's audiences; and given the elegiac, actually beautiful work of some doom bands (the solo piano on Corrupted's "Llenandose de Gusanos," for example), it could appeal to fans of the fringes of metal as well.

Track Listing: Malignant Cloud; The Round-Up; Frank and the Girl; The Forbidden Border; "The Bearded Man Cannot Help You"; Escape; Doom Jazz.

Personnel: Jamie Saft: piano, electric bass; Bobby Previte: drums.

Title: Doom Jazz | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Veal

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