Exposé Online banner

Bobby Previte — Mass
(RareNoise RNR072, 2016, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-06-18

Mass Cover art

Even the non-Catholics among music fans are likely familiar with the structure of a mass, having listened to musical settings for the ritual dating back to the time of J.S. Bach or even earlier. Many modern composers have added their interpretations, including such progressive rock efforts as The Electric Prunes’ Mass in F, Yatha Sidra’s A Meditation Mass, Eela Craig’s Missa Universalis, Roman Stolyar’s Missa Apocryph, and Zaboitzeff’s Missa Furiosa, to name a few. A little Googling tells me that numerous composers have tackled the form in jazz, though I can’t say I’m familiar with any. Noted avant-jazz drummer Bobby Previte tosses his hat into the ring with this release, and to a certain degree it straddles the jazz and rock styles, as you might expect if you’re familiar with his work. Previte describes the work as “a modernist re-imagining of the choral epic Missa Sancti Jacobi by 15th century composer Guillaume Dufay,” and the arrangements feature the Rose Ensemble of 11 singers along with Previte (drums, guitar, organ), Reed Mathis (electric bass), Jamie Saft and Stephen O'Malley (both guitar), and Marco Benevento (organ). There are times where you could believe that the voices are singing the original parts, but other times have the melodies adapted for the instruments in various combinations. The opening section of the “Kyrie,” for example, is played solo on the bass. In other places, Previte takes a phrase from the original and turns it into a heavy riff, as in the “Gloria.” “Alleluia” takes yet another approach, seeming to take the vocal parts for the original and giving the instruments aggressive rhythmic parts to punctuate them. Whatever the arrangement strategy, the result is stunning throughout the suite, a truly original creation that sustains interest both with the intelligence of the design and the quality of the execution. Any accusations of bombast or over-indulgence can be countered with the simple observation that it’s a Mass — it’s supposed to be impressive and bombastic. The music works on its own outside of any religious context, never seeming like a gimmick, even when it sounds like a Medieval choir backed by Black Sabbath.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Bobby Previte, Jamie Saft

Latest news

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Haystacks Balboa - Detoxified – This one came out around 1970, a one-off by a New York based band whose members weren't even listed on the LP jacket, and were never heard from again, so far as this writer knows. For some unknown...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues