Jamie Saft / Steve Swallow / Bobby Previte — You Don't Know the Life
(RareNoise RNR101, 2019, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2019-11-10
Unlike this trio’s last outing, Loneliness Road (2017), You Don’t Know the Life ventures out of the piano trio mold with other keyboard instruments in the mix, mostly organ, though they are far from the norm for an organ trio. “Re: Person I Know” kicks things off with Jamie Saft on electric harpsichord, a gritty, chaotic sound that provides notice that this is no ordinary jazz outing. For “Dark Squares” it’s an organ, though it’s approached in a way that doesn’t resemble classic organ jazz. There’s a certain hard-to-pin-down similarity with his piano playing, with dense chords and unpredictable melodies, though he does take advantage of the organ’s ability to sustain notes indefinitely. Swallow’s bass guitar is simultaneously foundational and melodic, with a round tone more like an upright bass, and he avoids typical bass guitar techniques like picking, slapping, and so on. Previte’s drumming serves to set the music on its head, being completely appropriate for the compositions without falling into typical time-keeping patterns. He treats his kit as a full-fledged member of the ensemble instead of mere support. In addition to original pieces credited to either the whole trio or Saft on his own, they tackle pieces by Bill Evans (“Re: Person I Know”), Tom Moore (“You Don’t Know the Life”), Roswell Rudd (“Ode to a Green Frisbee”), John Blackburn and Karl Suessdorf (“Moonlight in Vermont”), and Burt Bacharach and Hal David (“Alfie”). These three outstanding musicians take classic sounds into new realms with their unconventional approach to both arrangement and their instruments, providing a welcome extension to long-established tropes.
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