Robby Ameen: Diluvio

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Featured Album *****

The drummer Robby Ameen’s 3rd recording Diluvio explodes with atomic energy right off the blocks with the celebrated rhythmist striking a particularly pose with positively insolent virtuosity from the opening bars of “Fast Eye”. The song not only celebrates the drummer’s intuitive voice as a composer, but also speaks to a fairly telling characteristic of his musical personality – one that uses a kind of sports metaphor – to cast him as having lightning reflexes. This followed by a work of immense subtlety and sensuality. “Cremant” [or more correctly “Crémant”] not only makes reference to a sparkling wine of [some would aver] as high a quality as the wines of the Champagne region. Even if you are not a vintner the tastefulness of the song’s harmonic progression speaks to the smoothness of the experience of tippling with that kind of bubbly as you navigate your inebriated way – with the musicians – through the music.

Robby Ameen is a gifted drummer and composer and this is clearly evident from the manner in which he rings in the changes of pulse, mood and emotion through each of his originals. He often makes complex rhythms sound easy; which is a gift in itself, and matches his grasp of rhythm and time with a prodigious musicality. In his writing he displays a wonderful sense of melody too, and his arrangements – his clever exploration of the tone textures of brass [Conrad Herwig] and woodwinds [Troy Roberts and Bob Franceschini, who may be heard together in the video below in “Mixology”, Mr Ameen’s glowing tribute to Charlie Parker] through this repertoire, which are wonderfully arranged by him. Of course rhythm is his strong suit and his brilliant foray into the “montuno” sequences of “Tempest Dance” together with the equally brilliant percussionist Mauricio Herrera is a classic example of this.

As if in a show of the multi-dimensionality of Mr Ameen’s musical persona we are treated to a gorgeously solemn version of the aria from Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata, “Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott”, from his celebrated Lutheran service. Mr Ameen cleverly incorporates the soaring elements of Bach’s chorale – with the concertante motif [of the chorale] subsumed with gravitas, into the slowly devolving Afro-Caribbean rhythms that he shares here with Mr Herrera. This is the kind of ingenuity that pervades the entire album, which closes on a particularly momentous note with Troy Roberts’ impressive arrangement of John Coltrane’s “Impressions” incorporating gravity-defying multiphonics [multi-tracked theroughout] in a vivid duet with the drummer.

Mr Ameen ‘s rhythm section is brilliantly served by the performance of pianists Edsel Gómez and Bill O’Connell on the recording. The dark rumble of Lincoln Goines’ contrabass [and, on occasion, his electric bass] makes for a luscious rhythmic canvas backdrop throughout the repertoire on this album.

Track list – 1: Fast Eye; 2: Cremant; 3: The Drifter’s Plan; 4: Herr Jesu Christ, wahr’ Mensch und Gott – Aria [BWV 127]; 5: Tempest Dance; 6: Mixology; 7: Into the Clear; 8: Line for Lyons; 9: Impressions

Personnel – Troy Roberts: tenor saxophone [1, 6 – 9] and soprano saxophone [4]; Bob Franceschini: tenor saxophone [1 – 3, 6], soprano saxophone [4, 5] and baritone saxophone [8]; Conrad Herwig: trombone [1 – 3, 5, 8]; Edsel Gómez: piano [2 – 5] and Fender Rhodes [1]; Bill O’Connell: piano [6 – 8] and Fender Rhodes [5]; Lincoln Goines: contrabass [1, 4, 6 – 8] and electric bass [2, 3, 5]; Robby Ameen: drums; Mauricio Herrera: congas [2 – 4] and cajón [3, 4]

Released – 2020
Label – Origin Records [82801]
Runtime – 51:14

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