Distinguished drummer Bobby Previte is a renaissance man who composed, arranged and penned the lyrics on this impressive program. In addition, he supplements his rhythmic contributions with various percussion implements, guitar, autoharp and harmonica. The premise behind Rhapsody relates to Previte's viewpoint about travel and marks the second in a three- part series that originated in 2011 with Terminals Part I: Departures (Cantaloupe Music). Here, the artist uses an all-star lineup of pioneers accustomed to deviating from conventional norms.
Listening to this album is akin to following an engrossing story of intrigue. During several movements, Jen Shyu's angelic and quietly soaring vocals instill a sense of yearning atop multi- textured themes, including John Medeski's circular piano voicings on "Casting Off." Along with Zeena Parkins' sweeping harp lines and parts that seemingly characterize minimalist composer Philip Glass' brisk ostinato movements, the band's seamless integration of jazz rock and experimental sound-shaping processes yield magnetic qualities.
Various movements are emphasized with zesty off- centered dialogues; Parkins' heavenly passages and the soloists' micro-improvisational segments via intersecting motifs and Fabian Rucker's jazzy alto sax phrasings. Previte's arrangements encompass inward and outward reflections amid subtle surprises, although "The Timekeeper" is a hard-hitting visit to dreamland, transformed into a harmonious ebb and flow. But Nels Cline's simple acoustic guitar melody on "Last Stand/Final Approach," segues into a lullaby, sweetened by Shu's whispery singing, and the ensemble's kaleidoscopic contours fused with Medeski and Rucker's hearty unison choruses. Previte's harmonica riffs ignite a touch of Americana along with winding undercurrents and a staggered pulse. (Passionately recommended...)
Casting Off; All The World; The Lost; When I Land; The Timekeeper; Coming About; All Hands; Last Stand
/ Final Approach.
John Medeski: piano; Zeena Parkins: harp; Fabian Rucker: alto saxophone; Jen Shyu: voice, er hu, piano; Nels Cline: acoustic guitar, slide guitar, twelve string guitar; Bobby Previte: trap drums, percussion, autoharp, guitar, harmonica.