CEREBRAL ROCK WITH BOBBY PREVITE

 
Music is about the human soul, and when you're playing it right, it's scary. You're totally exposed. But once I put it out there, I can't tell you what to do with it. The great artists don't ask you what your world-view is; they tell you what their world view is and if you don't like it, you go to somebody else.

-Bobby Previte

 
Bobby Previte by Robert Chapman

Previte is largely associated with the New York "Downtown" jazz scene, but in truth, he is inexplicable. And that's how he likes it - no labels, no preconceived notions, just your naked ear, open mind, and rapt attention. His latest project, Coalition of the Willing, has been drawing more attention in jam circles for his band members, instead of for the leader, composer, and brain trust behind the project. Comprised of Charlie Hunter on six-string guitar (that's right, I said "six"), Skerik on sax, and Marco Benevento on keys, this group was raising eyebrows without most people having a clue as to who Previte was. He had some nominal notoriety from Groundtruthers, his duo project with Hunter, and from Ponga, a 100% improvised band comprised of Previte, Skerik, Wayne Horvitz, and Dave Palmer. Those two projects aside, Coalition is his real debut to the jam scene. The first thing I wanted to know was how this band came together.


Coalition of the Willing :: 05.20 :: San Francisco by Dave Vann
"The idea of a quartet was very interesting to me because I had never had one before. Someone had told me a while back, 'Hey, you should play with Charlie Hunter,' so I called him up and said, 'Charlie Hunter, I'm Bobby Previte, let's play.' We were coming from completely different places, but I thought there was something really great there. I knew Skerik from Ponga, and we had kept in touch over the years. Then I met Marco during the Ropeadope New Music Seminar last year and really liked what he was doing. I thought he would fit well with what I had in mind for this band."

My next natural question was if he had considered the exposure he would gain from assembling what many consider to be a "super group."


Bobby Previte by Cees van de Ven
"I'm not naïve. I knew full well when I was putting this band together it was a powerful group, musically and commercially, but there is NO WAY that I would play with anyone who couldn't deal. If they can't hang, they bring the whole thing down. You know, I have to say, if you had told me fifteen years ago that this kind of scene would exist, I would have told you that you were completely fucking nuts. The intensity of these fans is astounding to me, and we're not a jamband, at all, according to the largely accepted definition of what a jamband is. I think we give people enough of what they think they're familiar with to get their attention, to get them listening. It's amazing to me that so many people are listening because this band is not at all what they're used to. We're not trying to recreate anything. Great improvisers always ask more questions than they answer. Human nature wants questions answered and loose ends wrapped up, but I'm not supposed to answer your questions. No one can tell you what the essentials are; you have to figure it out for yourself. You can only express the universal through the personal. Music is about the human soul, and when you're playing it right, it's scary. You're totally exposed. But once I put it out there, I can't tell you what to do with it. The great artists don't ask you what your world-view is; they tell you what their world view is and if you don't like it, you go to somebody else. You don't buy [a record] because it goes with your couch. That's why the iPod revolution is very interesting, because instead of you putting a disc on and saying, 'OK, I'm going into this artist's world view,' it's like, 'I'm sad, I want to hear sad music' or whatever. It's a confirmation of your existing mood instead of taking you somewhere. It's very, very different, and truthfully, I feel like something very essential gets lost."


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