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Bobby Previte's latest shows drummer/composer at his best


Bobby Previte, "Mass" (Rare Noise).

You probably need to be sitting down for this.

Those who've been following brilliant and wildly ambitious drummer/composer Bobby Previte since his student days at the University at Buffalo have long known how much of his international musical life was formed by studying Renaissance music in Buffalo. But as we followed from there to composing music for the Moscow Circus and all manner of major endeavors all over, I don't know that any of us were prepared for this wild and wonderful "modernist re-imagining of the choral epic Missi Santi Jacobi by 15th Century composer Guillaume Dufay."

So, get this: It's a heavy metal mass in thrall to Dufay with allusions galore to another of Previte's non-jazz enthusiasms, Olivier Messiaen. It's wild.

Here's how he explains it: "You have to remember when Dufay wrote  this music, it was performed at a time in which there no loud, man-made sounds -- no amplifiers, airplanes, bombs etc. I wanted to match the effect of the music of that time had on the listener performed in a hard-walled stone church, the sound racing around the walls and bouncing off the ceiling. It was designed to be overwhelming to the people experiencing it. This is powerful, soul-shaking, transportive, otherworldly music. And I needed to match that power so I had to go with heavy metal-- a reviled music that just keeps coming."

So here you are, with a chamber choir in Dufay mode, pipe organ playing music that alludes to Messiaen and heavy metal trio all playing together in a hilarious, inspiring and exhilirating collage of sound conjugating many centuries of spectacular Western music. This is a whole different way of making a joyful noise unto the Lord with Bobby Previte's drums and various guitarists playing stern heavy metal declamations in the middle, to invite the chamber choir in. If there's any American avant-garde composer more joyously taking jazz and rock into new 21st century territory than Bobby Previte, it might be better if he or she kept to him or herself. This is wild enough as it is. The composer is in the middle of one of his best life periods.

For musical adventurers, this is not to be missed. One of Previte's finest moments on disc (and, he says, it also comes with some of his favorite disc art.)

4 stars (out of four)


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