It's a given that wherever Grammy-winning drummer Robby Ameen goes, irrepressible rhythm is sure to follow. Diluvio, Ameen's third album as leader of his own ensemble, is clearly no exception to the rule. Ameen's half-dozen compositions are intrepid and lively, and even Gerry Mulligan's "Line for Lyons" and John Coltrane's "Impressions," which seal the album, are given bright rhythmic makeovers in keeping with the leader's metrical frame of mind.
To lend color and variety, Ameen employs a two-tenor front line (Troy Roberts, Bob Fransceschini) on the opening "Fast Eye" and bop-flavored "Mixology," adding trombonist Conrad Herwig to the mix on the former. Roberts is present on four other numbers including J.S. Bach's "Herr Jesu Christ," on which he plays soprano, while Franceschini plays tenor on "Cremant" and "Tempest Dance," soprano on "Herr Jesu" and "The Drifter's Plan," baritone on "Line for Lyons." Herwig enriches that number, as he does "Cremant," "Tempest Dance" and "Drifter's Plan." Lincoln Goines is the bassist, while Edsel Gomez and Bill O'Connell divide time on piano or Fender Rhodes and Mauricio Herrera adds congas and cajon to "Cremant," "Tempest Dance" and "Herr Jesu."
"Fast Eye" is well-named, sprinting from the starting gate behind Goines' sturdy bass line, Gomez' rumbling Fender Rhodes and Ameen's nimble drums, leading to brusque solos by Roberts, Franceschini and Herwig. "Cremant" slows the pace but not the rhythm as Herrera punctuates the brief respite (with echoes of Henry Mancini's Pink Panther theme) before "Tempest Dance" restores a more time-honored Latin groove. Bach, somewhat of a departure, pivots gently around the twin sopranos and leads to the more raucous and impulsive "Drifter's Plan." "Mixology" emblazons a bygone era before Roberts' tenor and O'Connell's piano share center stage on the last of Ameen's compositions, the lovely ballad "Into the Clear."
If rhythm is in your wheelhouse, you can't go wrong with Diluvio. Ameen sees to that, all the while making sure there is an even larger stream of music from which to derive one's listening pleasure. In other words, rhythm may shape the engine but jazz provides the fuel.