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Bobby Avey | A New Face

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Jazz: Contemporary Jazz Classical: Twentieth Century Moods: Type: Instrumental
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A New Face

by Bobby Avey

Comprised exclusively of Bobby Avey's originals, A New Face combines rhythmic constructions inspired by musical traditions throughout the world with harmonies inspired by the currents of modern classical music. David Liebman is featured on 4 tracks.
Genre: Jazz: Contemporary Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Late November
7:07 $0.99
2. In Retreat
7:48 $0.99
3. Delusion
6:45 $0.99
4. A New Face
9:27 $0.99
5. Half Is Les Than Half
8:14 $0.99
6. Influence
6:01 $0.99
7. Insight
6:56 $0.99
8. Time Unfolding
8:49 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
A New Face (AUGUST 1st 2010, jayDell) is the debut CD by rising star pianist, composer and bandleader Bobby Avey whose “playing is consistently rewarding” (Ken Dryden). Consisting exclusively of Avey’s original material, this release documents the astonishingly wide breadth of the 25-year-old performer’s body of work. The CD features Avey with his tightly connected trio of five years featuring bassist Thomson Kneeland and drummer Jordan Perlson, as well as saxophone legend David Liebman on four tracks. Avey has worked with Liebman for many years, and earned critical acclaim for his work on Liebman’s 2006 release Vienna Dialogues (ZOHO).

A New Face showcases Avey as a thoughtful and unique composer who knows how to capitalize on the unique strengths of each band member, while simultaneously propelling the energy of the collective unit. Structural elements of the pieces, like meter, originate from his lithe, personal command of novel rhythmic constructions inspired by musical traditions throughout the world. These are then reinterpreted through the feel and flowing sensibility acquired through his deep understanding of jazz rhythm. Another important component, harmony, is informed by Avey’s immersion in the currents of classical music, and A New Face showcases a stunning command of tonal chromaticism.

“Late November” opens the record with a lilting solo piano, whose accents betray an almost imperceptible rhythmic pattern—this ambiguous tapestry is then seamlessly woven into the fabric of the collective rendering, as the original piano motif propels the band through intricate sections, explosive solos and a truly multidimensional rhythm. The hypnotic, serpentine groove at times sways between a fast, buoyant cycle of triplets and a long, highly syncopated Balkan funk—oftentimes the artists even allow this groove to inhabit the two discrete worlds at the same time. Avey improvises with supreme confidence—giving particular importance to sensitive and beautiful melody—as he surges through the rhythmic rapids provided by Perlson. Avey’s panache and total control over the swirling layers of rhythm and harmony is on full display in this stellar opening to the album. Liebman augments the trio for “In Retreat”, a composition invoking the harmonies of a Beethoven sonata bathed in the 20th century milieu of Bartok and Messiaen. The trio continues with “Delusion”, an intense piece highlighting the band’s adroit internalization and command of the Kopaniza rhythm from Bulgaria. The listener is confronted by confusing drum hits, unexpected accents, labyrinthine thematic movements, jabbing staccatos and clashing notes over a rhythm that’s constantly in flux—but Avey’s maturity enables a patiently-narrated improvisation to surface within the formidable aural tempest.

The title track “A New Face” opens with an exquisite solo introduction by Kneeland, followed by Avey’s delicate introduction of the theme. Liebman masterfully contributes his meandering, snakelike phrases to the sonic environment, which allow the group to build to Avey’s burning solo. Jordan Perlson, a tirelessly creative drummer, shines as the true catalyst of the energy emitted by Avey’s “Half Is Less Than Half.” The introductory thematic statement is actually that of the percussionist: Perlson takes the four-note phrase played in unison with the piano and embellishes it, stretches it, and splinters the previously straightforward phrase to reveal the underlying complexity of the rhythmic engine. For the piece, Avey fuses rhythms from the Balkan region with the advanced harmonic explorations of Olivier Messiaen. The band excels in fusing the traditional asymmetrical patterns of the Bulgarian mountains with the thoroughly contemporary currents of American funk and drum-and-bass. The lightning-fast flourishes and razor-sharp superimpositions of funk over the nine-beat cycle are yet another demonstration of the band’s successful integration of disparate cultural threads.

Balancing out the rush of “Half is Less Than Half,” Liebman and Avey play in a duo setting for the introspective “Influence.” Guided by Liebman’s exquisite tone, the melody establishes the rich and intimate environment created by the two musicians. An intense burst of color erupts between the two following their respective improvisations, eventually returning to the original mood of the piece, where it concludes with a meditative Bach-inspired cadence. The trio’s rendition of “Insight,” an extensive composition, takes the listener on an evocative journey though varying moods, rhythms, and environments; Kneeland and Avey provide the wholly elegant solos. “Time Unfolding” provides an appropriate finale to A New Face as the four consummate musicians collaborate on the closing statement. Liebman enters with a forceful interpretation of the melody on tenor saxophone, while the piano trio responds with brief counterpoints to Liebman’s fluidity, employing sharp accents and tightly coordinated gestures. His melodies unfurl like waves above the driving, intense thrust of the rhythm section. Avey follows with a brilliant complement to Liebman’s voluble and legato musings, beginning his statement sparsely and developing it within the integrated rhythmic environs of the trio. Perlson stands out again with another stunning improvisation; he searches and pushes the group forward, acting as an active motor in front of the five-beat backdrop. The piece fades away as the group passionately smolders over the central theme.

Upon graduating in 2007 with a BA in Jazz Studies from Purchase Conservatory of Music, Bobby Avey moved to New York, where he quickly got top-flight gigs performing with Steve Wilson, Phil Woods, Ben Monder, Donny McCaslin, and Samuel Blaser among others. While still in school, Avey was invited by saxophone great David Liebman to adapt and arrange art songs from the Classical and Romantic era for re-interpretation, creating a vehicle for improvisation. This project, culminating with the album Vienna Dialogues, was released on ZOHO in 2006 to rave reviews. Scott Albin writes in JazzTimes, "Highlights are many… Avey’s strong chording; Avey’s beautiful intro…Avey’s sparkling solo and accompaniment on Debussy’s “Fleur des Blés, graced with a bell-like sound, his playing here so impressive, it overshadows Liebman’s." Ken Dryden writes in All Music Guide: “4-stars. The intimate performances and personal sound make this an essential recording.” Avey won the esteemed Pressor Scholarship while attending Purchase and was named the 2006 international Yamaha Young Performing Artist on piano.



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Remarkable debut proper
from a more than promising young pianist/composer, who was only 24 at the time of recording in one session this strong and mature material of eight originals on January 4th in 2009. Bobby Avey has succeeded in creating a memorable template for integrating idioms of classical (Beethoven, Liszt, Debussy - maybe?) and modern music with modern jazz. As points of reference one might be tempted to compare his (darkly) elegiac streak to that of Brad Mehldau, while the angular and/or robust input may bring Vijay Iyer's similar treatment to mind.

The highly dynamic core trio, with conrapunctalism and finely honed rapport having been developed over the years, also includes the criminally underrated drum powerhouse Jordan Perlson pairing up with the solid double bassist Thomas Kneeland. They are augmented by the distinct timbre and phrasing courtesy of saxophonist Dave Liebman, who not-so-by-the-way co-produced the present album, on three tracks (soprano - #2, 4 / tenor - #8): the wistful and wondering #2 'in retreat' has a rhythmic build-up, passionate, wailing sax and well-accentuated bass solo; the adventurous, title song #4 'a new face' with a chamber jazz sensibility starts with a bass intro, then offers subtle harmonization and a dramatic piano improv only to get abstracted by Liebman towards the end; while the urgent closer #8 'time unfolding' is perhaps the jazziest tune in a postbop vein of the entire set, having fiery tenor sax resolving into relaxed piano and emphatic drum embellishment for the outro.

The trio pieces are equally compelling: the opener 'late november,' which won the first prize for the bandleader at the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Composers Competition in 2011, is a multi-segmented, whirling and agitated song with some delicate interludes; the restless pursuit of #3 'delusion' brings intriguing, unpredictable ride in akin manner to the stark and foreboding drive of #5 'half is less than half' where Perlson's fierce yet precisional pounding is worthy of note, too. In the same league we are also treated to the frantic and sweeping #7 'insight' delivering - among others - another amazing piano elaboration. By contrast #6 'influence' is a dreamy, lyrical duo piece being conveyed with sophistication by Avey and Liebman.
Total time: 61.12 min. Highly recommended if you appreciate serious music! I'm really looking forward to the pianist's upcoming album titled "Authority Melts from Me," due out sometime next year, adding Miguel Zenón and Ben Monder to the core trio.