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Bobby Avey: Authority Melts From Me

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Bobby Avey’s visit to Haiti proved to be a life-changing experience. The pianist traveled to the country in 2012 and learned about its struggles with colonialism, slavery and foreign intervention, and his discovery of vodou drumming ensembles became the catalyst for Authority Melts From Me, a three-part suite written for quintet. He analyzed and transcribed the performances of two drum groups, using them as a springboard for the piece.

While the rhythms form a background for this music, it isn’t a hybrid of groove-based music with solos on top. In fact, the opening section, “Kalfou,” initially sounds closer to progressive fusion than anything world beat, due in part to guitarist Ben Monder’s introductory one-note vamp and distorted solo. The rhythms have an elastic feeling, which alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón plays off of, and Avey accents, sometimes to a thunderous degree. The piece evokes the tension of the revolution without getting heavy-handed.

The rest of the album has mixed results. After a tranquil “Piano Interlude,” “Louverture” begins with a tense rolling rhythm that builds in suspense but never fully resolves. The prog factor returns during a few minutes of Pink Floyd/King Crimson ambience. Jordan Perlson’s “Drum Interlude” primes the group for the final movement, “Cost.” It regains focus, in large part because of Avey’s solo over tense drumming. From there, the composition nearly gets lost in a wash of billowing chords from piano and guitar, but Zenón’s alto helps the band regain focus.

Originally Published