Something of a supergroup by "Downtown NY Scenes" standards, Bump's Counterclockwise is a signal to those who know leader Bob Previte's more free-form and improvisatory work; as in earlier Bump CDs, do not expect any breaking of the sound barrier! Well, two observations: (1) even Previte can't come up with something as classic as THE 23 CONSTELLATIONS OF JOAN MIRO every week; (2) it is a standard direction of many artists who, once they've trashed tonal conventions to their hearts' content, return to "form" (no pun intended) to try out what theyíve learned on a more structured approach. So yeah, there are some concessions to the "jam band" way of doing things (simpler rhythmic figures, more of a "groove" orientation) but Previte has, as with previous versions of Bump (once referred to in the 1980s as Bump the Renaissance) piled on all kinds of talent (Wayne Horvitz, Steve Swallow, Marty Ehrlich, Curtis Fowlkes, and a guest drop-in by Zony Mash's guitarist Tim Young) and given everyone their say. The result is maybe not the analog of Rashied Ali basing his time signatures on x times the square root of 2 with Prima Materia, but still great fun and, yes, a very hot set of grooves. Intercut with other neat tunes is an extended "xxx-Soul" jam which was apparently cut up into chunks, one with a tart reggae feel ("614-Soul"), one recalling a Joe Tex R&B figure with Fowlkes" and Ehrlich"s rapid-fire horns on top, and a closing meditation ("498-Soul"; leave the CD player on so you'll catch all of it) a serious late-night meditation from Horvitz and the horns after which the rest of the band come back from the men's room and have at the riff one more time before the night watchman throws them all out. Elsewhere Previte's "Patricia" finds him doing a "rock-steady" a la Tony Williams on IN A SILENT WAY (although I suspect that of all Miles Davis' drummers, Al Foster is probably more of an influence here) as Swallow supplies spare electric bass and the Ehrlich/Fowlkes front line twist and rollick. It's the "fun" quotient here that puts this CD across. When Phish light into one of their more root-function-oriented confections like "Sand" it's the exact position of the rhythmic components that makes it, er, swing. Of course, it took Phish a little while to figure that out. Previte and band were most probably born knowing same.
Elsewhere, "Bobby's Next Mood" climbs all over the map in tempo and contains a beautiful ballad section as well as some wild free bits from Horvitz (who comes within inches of stealing the show again and again) and Ehrlich. I do take minor exception to "And The Wind Cries... Mademoiselle Katherine" since the underpinnings ARE those of Davis' "Mademoiselle Mabry" , not that the press kit does not red-flag this -- but Previte's new melody is delightful (and Fowlkes shines on his break), as well as, again, the press kit notes that "Mabry" was inspired by Jimi Hendrix' "The Wind Cries Mary." I never noticed this. Critic hoist by his own petard! Not exactly news, so I'll thank Previte and press agent for pointing this out.
Fine, Bump doesn't reinvent the wheel. Who needs a new wheel?
by -Ken Egbert
Jazz Now Interactive
Copyright Jazz Now, May 2003 issue, all rights reserved