Drummer/bandleader Bobby Previte has crossed between various scenes, from John Zorn’s Downtown NYC to Charlie Hunter’s jam-friendly world. With his latest album, Pan Atlantic (Palmetto Digital), Previte taps into his European connections, touching on Germany (saxophonist Wolfgang Puschnig), France (keyboardist Benoit Delbecq), Denmark (electric bassist Nils Davidsen) and Italy (trombonist Gianluca Petrella).
With the vibe-setting opener “Deep Lake,” which sets up a groove only to deconstruct it amidst Puschnig’s craggy bursts, Previte sets the stage of this project’s conceptual flavoring and mid-’70s Miles Davis atmosphere, which is more about stewing artfully than blowing mightily. Perhaps the most commanding voice in the band is that of young firebrand trombonist Petrella, one of the more skilled boundary-crossing jazz musicians around, whose handling of pure jazz, hip-hop/funk variations and the avant-garde bonds easily with Previte’s aesthetic. Petrella stretches out on “Stay on Path” and the aptly named tone poem “Question Mark,” while Delbecq issues muscular, harmonically tensed solos on “The Eternity Clause” and the title tune, tweaking the Rhodes sound into a Live/Evil-ish place. His solo Rhodes piece, “Veltin,” closes the album with an uncharacteristically stripped-down, benediction-like meditation.
All in all, Pan Atlantic is one of the more enticing and experimental of Previte’s recent musical adventures. The avant-jam-band and post-downtown schools go Euro, to provocative effect.