Jamie Saft and Bobby Previte, master improvisers with 30 years of history playing together, bring their ambitious and acclaimed project “Doom Jazz” to SPACE on Thursday, August 10th. They play with the decades-running experimental metal group Confusatron.
Both Saft and Previte come from a long tradition of improvised music. Listening to Doom Jazz brings an eerie and tangible experience. Everything is always new, has never happened before. It’s a spontaneous composition created in the moment with the musicians, the room, the audience and the now.
Saft, the keyboardist and bass player in the group, has roots in jazz and classical music. He has toured all over the world, collaborating with or lending production efforts to the Beastie Boys, Bad Brains, John Zorn, Laurie Anderson, Steve Swallow, Merzbow and countless others. Previte, a critically acclaimed drummer and composer, has been blending experimental, rock and jazz influences in New York City avant-garde music circles since the late 1970s.
We had a chance to sit down with Saft, who recently moved to Maine, and talk about the Doom Jazz project (also known as Swami LatePlate) and his and Bobby’s friendship. (Saft called Previte “one of the deepest musicians I’ve ever met.”) What came forth was a conversation about improvisation, collaboration, respect, and loving one’s craft.
According to Saft, Doom Jazz is something different. The music “uses a lot of the sonic landscapes of heavy music with some jazz beats and jazz,” he said. “It’s sort of a modal approach to improvising.”
Saft tries to keep a broad vision of what music can be, and always tries to improvise with people he loves and respects.
“That, to me, is really valuable, the energy of being in a group of musicians who you love and trust and respect and admire and learn from. That’s where great music comes from,” he said.
Jamie and Bobby have been working together for almost 30 years, and they have produced innumerable records together in various fields.
Doom Jazz aims to combine the love for doom metal, Black Sabbath, and the vast lineage of jazz, all of which runs through their veins.
Doom metal and Jazz don’t immediately sound like two fitting puzzle pieces at first glance, but Saft is able to bridge the contrasts.
“We were just working on the connections between heavy music, doom metal, Sabbath, Celtic Frost, Slayer, and jazz music that we loved,” he said.
The duo found a “sonic space” between them, allowed big cavernous reverbs and lots of space around the notes.
“There’s lots of long trails and it’s just a very sonic approach to playing jazz,” he said, “rather than a big chordal approach or an aggressive, free improvised approach.”
Saft’s philosophy of honoring the complexity of music and its various styles has been forged by New York City, where he was raised.
“I came up in New York, where every culture, every race, religion, live together with struggle and strife, but, we all somehow coexist relatively peacefully.”
That principle can also be applied to the forms and cultures behind sound, which borrow and evolve with each other liberally.
“All music is the same. It’s one thing,” he said. “The styles don’t have to fight with each other. It was really the boundaries and the borders between styles [that] I don’t necessarily believe in or adhere to. In fact, I enjoy smashing all those styles together.”
For Saft, playing music is transformative, spiritual. Musicians perform a kind of service to humanity, aiming to make the world a better place.
“It’s something that pretty much every human I know not only enjoys, but needs in their life,” he said. “One of the things that is so precious about being an improviser is that no one pre-determines our music. We create it in the moment. It’s a revolutionary act.”
Doom Jazz—the concept and eventually the duo’s first album—emerged from “one of the most inspiring recording sessions” that Saft had ever been a part of, just the two of them in his home studio around 17 years ago.
The project, initially titled Swami LatePlate, has evolved in initial inspiration and form. Their first album was originally released as the first release on Jamie Saft’s label `Veal Records’, with vinyl later pressed on the Italian label Subsound Records. The album Doom Jazz 2 is due in mid-September, while 3 and 4 are also recorded and will be released in the coming years.
But first, the duo play SPACE. Saft is excited for the show, partly because he knows that few people in this part of the world have ever heard music like this.
“Portland has a wonderful supportive scene of people who are about the right things, who are about the music,” he said. “Maine really does have a different quality of life here. There’s still the struggle and drive of life but it’s a beautiful place and the natural beauty really inspires the music.”
The next place this project is going will be right out of the atmosphere and into SPACE! “Space is the place!’“ as Jamie quoted Sun Ra. On August 10th, come be a part of a revival of this unique sound as Doom Jazz takes orbit once again.
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