Robbie Ameen Spends 'Days In The Night' on New Two and Four Records Release [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt on Jan 08, 2016 01:15 PM EST
Robby Ameen's 'Days In The Night' 'Days In The Night' by drummer boy Robby Ameen (Photo : Courtesy Two and Four Records)

Drummer Robby Ameen breaks new ground on Days In The Night (Two and Four Records), a roller coaster ride of wildly percolating beats, choppy rhythmic thrusts and plenty of popping percussion. In reinventing Afro-Cuban, funk and post-bop, he's kept everything charged up like a crazed rhino on steroids. Keep out of the way and you'll be fine.

With two tenor saxophones, two bassists, trombonist Conrad Herwig and pianist Manuel Valera, Ameen rolls like a big wheel just like he did in the bands of Ruben Blades, Jack Bruce, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Valentin, Paul Simon and Eddie Palmiere. Yeah, this guy's a heavyweight. Leading his own band for the last 15 years has sharpened his focus, honed his chops, widened his purview, added gravitas to his persona, and, most of all, has culminated in this freewheeling no-holds-barred action-packed devil-may-care nine-track hour, Days In The Night. (Hey, I've had nights that have gone on for days too.)

You should hear what he does to Freddie Hubbard's "Up Jumped Spring" (a tune he previously recorded as a drums/sax duo with Troy Roberts). It's as if that '70s SuperSax juggernaut came back to life, only this time buoyed by the ghost of Tito Puente. Ditto for "Begin the Beguine" (a song that I still hope somebody someday explains what exactly Cole Porter's lyrics mean). In this instance, Ruben Blades sings it with panache while sax men Bob Franceschini and Troy Roberts go all-out in overriding the original intent of the tune itself as if they dipped Cole Porter into a bubbling cauldron. Then, when you least expect it, Ameen's "Se Acabo la Ilusion" takes over and runs home to hide. It's a barrelhouse barnburner of particular delight, all shimmery treble with the kind of attention-to-detail that includes every hi-hat, snare and cymbal flourish imaginable.

Personal highlights include "Funkguanco" (the title speaks for itself) and a blister-forming cover of "Oleo" (1954 Sonny Rollins). By the time this party is over, you're sweating and want to do it all over again.

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TagsRobby Ameen, REVIEW, Two and Four Records, Afro-Cuban

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