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July/August 2003

Bobby Previte and Bump
Counterclockwise
Palmetto Records

Drummer Bobby Previte says that he records only when he has something to say. That is our loss, because judging by the power and force he exhibits on his latest offering, Counterclockwise, with his long-time group Bump, Previte clearly has something significant to say musically.

A New York City mainstay on what is known as the "downtown scene," Previte's playing recalls hard bop's defining rhythm master, Art Blakey, but also funk legends like the Average White Band's former ace, Steve Ferrone. This clever mixing of the precision of postwar jazz with the soulful energy of funk is a constant throughout the album. Funk and jazz for the most part fight viciously for space in Previte's world and, mostly, the funk wins-and so does the listener. The opening track, "877-Soul," is a case in point. While Previte presses the track along with force and exactitude, horns whirl around his wall of polished rhythm. The title tune embraces funk so openly hip-hop producers are probably salivating at the opportunity to sample just a few of Previte's beats. Especially notable on "Counterclockwise" is the expressive call and response horn work between trombonist Curtis Fowlkes and tenor saxophonist Marty Ehrlich. Their work clearly recalls the spirit and explorations of jazz's free period.

But the CD Counterclockwise always returns to the funk. Some rhythm tracks make more than one appearance and become familiar refrains. Even the ska-driven "Bobby's Next Mood" digresses into those glorious funk beats that Previte clearly is committed to in this project. There are some quiet moments here if you can believe it. "Patricia" is the most notable extended trek but though it is impressive, you will be begging for Previte to funk it back up before Counterclockwise comes to an end. Previte has produced music that is addictive and necessary and is not easy to forget. And hopefully, he will have something to say again very soon.

Originally published in July/August 2003
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