Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bobby Avey: A New Face

Bobby Avey (piano)
A New Face (JayDell Records)
Thomson Kneeland (bass)
Jordan Pearlson (drums)
David Liebman (sax)

Great jazz doesn't always have to come from Europe. Sometimes it can be right in your own backyard and you don't even know it. That's what you may find out when you take a listen to the debut from Bobby Avey, a New York state native now living in Brooklyn. A New Face (JayDell Records) documents the strength and complexity of this young new talent to the scene.

With influences ranging from Bach to McCoy Tyner, Avey and his trio consisting of Thomson Kneeland (bass) and Jordan Pearlson (drums) explore similar creative themes like European counterparts Neil Cowley Trio and hard-edged poly-rhythms of E.S.T.. Big statements yes, but
A New Face definitely delivers with surprising results.

A New Face opens with "Late November" a multi-layered piece driven by Avey's delicate improvising at the piano and countered by some stellar interplay from Pearlson and Kneeland. The trio have been together for over five years so the understanding of each members movements is expected but it is still impressive to capture it in one session throughout the entirety of the recording.

The group are joined by longtime collaborator and renowned saxophonist, David Liebman for four numbers including the title track "New Face" and "Time Unfolding". Liebman's playing is exquisite and fierce throughout and probably one of the best sessions I've heard him perform. Liebman collaborated with Avey in 2006 for a reinterpretation of classical pieces. The two again show their unique bond on the duet "Influence", a lovely ballad that flows effortlessly into a battle of interplay resulting in a pleasant hypnotic denouement. A really beautiful piece that is probably my favourite track on the album (for right now).

A New Face closes with "Time Unfolding", a blistering quartet piece which Liebman leads the trio through a series of crisp, distinct and rolling rhythms that allow each member to stretch their abilities. Avey's movements are precise and mature--exactly what you expect from young and creative new comer. Bobby Avey and his trio may have more up their sleeve than we know. I hope so because this is an impressive debut that I may be telling you about again at the end of the year. Awesome!

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