Tag Archives: Dan Weiss

Improjazz review by Luc Bouquet

Musica Jazz review by Civeli

MICHAEL DESSEN TRIO – Forget The Pixel (CF 222)
Un po’ come Steve Lehman, Vijay Iyer, Jason Robinson e il suo mentore George Lewis, Dessen ès os pesotra pratica concertis ti caericerca accademica (alcunisuoi scritti sono in mdessen.com/, sezionewriting), sufficientemente colto e preparato da evitare che la dimensione acustica confini quela elettronica a mero abbeli-mento o vice versa. Questo cd prosegue con coerenza il lavoro cominciato con «Between Shadow And Space». Al posto di Tyshawn Sorey c’è l’altrettanto valido (e richiestissimo) Weiss, ricercatore timbrico nei branipiùlenti. La musica, non dele più accessibili, contempla gorgogli elettronici, suoni dettagliatissimi e tensioni silenziose, dove tutti, specialmente un ispirato e determinante Tordini, danno il meglio di sé.Per visualizzare e ascoltare alcune porzioni del brano eponimo, figlio di una partitura chemischia semiografia contemporanea es egnal etiche ala Braxton, sicerchisu Youtube «Michael Dessen Trio Forget The Pixel Score/Excerpt».

The New York City Jazz Record by Stuart Broomer

Michael Dessen Trio – Forget the Pixel (CF 222)
Michael Dessen is a California-based trombonist, a former member of/composer for the memorable band Cosmologic and a frequent colleague of bassist Mark Dresser. At one time a student of George Lewis, Dessen appropriately combines brilliant trombone skills with interests in electronics and novel compositional strategies. His trio includes bassist Christopher Tordini and drummer Dan Weiss and he describes Forget the Pixel as an “hour-long cycle of music designed for this trio to perform in a single, continuous set. ”The end result is a remarkable achievement. If the timbral possibilities of a trombone-bass-drum band might seem limited, Dessen varies things with electronics and the trio maintains constant interest through a multi-leveled interaction of compositional methodologies, collective improvisation and polyrhythmic exploration. There are multiple senses of movement and development going on at once in this music, as it makes its way from the furious swing, jazzy bluster and electronics of the opening “Fossils and Flows” to the serene conclusion of “The Utopian Sense of Green”, in which the players summon up all the calm and grace of a Japanese garden. Along the way, the music repeatedly finds original dimensions, as in the elongated dialogue of “Three Sepals”, a piece that is born in Dessen’s sweetly traditional legato trombone then gradually opens into a field in which first Tordini, then the others seem to beetching the barest rhythmic and melodic materials on silence. A similarly broad canvas on the title track becomes a series of micro-explosions and dislocations: Dessen’s opening vocalic explosion gradually accumulates an electronic self-commentary; there are passages of pointillist scattershot bass and a long trio sequence in which Weiss’ snare drum seems to tie together the group’s multiple rhythms in a compact bundle. It’s fascinating work by an exceptional group of musicians, at times combining the cheery openness of song with a sense of underlying tectonic mystery.

San Diego Reader’s Best of 2011 list by Robert Bush

The International Top Ten Jazz Releases 2011
These are the ten best CDs to cross my path in 2011, regardless of geography. Some of them were recorded in New York, LA, and Portugal. Even still, the San Diego connection remains strong. Bert Turetzky, Mark Dresser, Peter Sprague and Geoffrey Keezer all released discs of global importance. Additionally, two musicians on this top-ten list spent years in San Diego: trombonists George Lewis and Michael Dessen. The final SD connection belongs to Jeff Kaiser, whose record label pfMENTUM is also represented.

1. Vinny Golia Octet Music For Baritone Saxophone ( NineWinds) Woodwind virtuoso Golia put together an adventurous and accessible recording with his stellar octet. Terrific arrangements and compositions and excellent solos from everyone, especially Golia’s monstrous “Tubax,” a refinement of the contrabass saxophone.
2. Bert Turetzky, George Lewis, Vinny Golia Triangulation II (Kadima Collective) No charts, no tunes, no discussions, just three of the world’s heaviest players improvising in the moment. Free jazz at its finest.
3. Michael Dessen Trio Forget The Pixel (Clean Feed)
Trombone / electronics master Dessen forges 21st century jazz with very few precedents. NYC compatriots Christopher Tordini’s bass and the multidirectional drums of Dan Weiss nail the constantly shifting metric landscapes of Dessen’s formidable compositions.
4. Bobby Bradford, Mark Dresser, Glenn Ferris Live In LA (Clean Feed)
Bradford has been a beacon for the free-improvising community in LA since the 1960s. This free-bop date sizzles from start to finish with elliptical, swinging solos and rock solid rhythms.

5. Dennis Gonzalez / Joao Paulo So Soft Yet (Clean Feed)
Dallas, Texas based trumpeter Gonzalez turns in an exquisite duet with pianist / accordion player Paulo. Extremely lyrical, the two men communicate on a deep level. Some of the pieces with electric piano hearken back to Miles Davis’ groundbreaking 1970s work. Sublime and surprising. Portuguese label Clean Feed is on this list multiple times for good reason.
6. Dick Wood Not Far From Here (pfMENTUM)
Another excellent example of where jazz might be heading in the 21st century, Woods combines Mark Trayle’s live electronics seamlessly into his core group of Hal Onserud on bass, Marty Mansour on percussion and Dan Clucas on trumpet. Wood takes elements of Ornette Coleman and John Zorn into his writing and improvising, and kicks ass throughout.
7. Trio M The Guest House (Enja)
Bay Area pianist Myra Melford, NYC drummer Matt Wilson and San Diego bassist Mark Dresser explore multiple improvising scenarios with compositions from each member. This collection ranges from the pensive to the furious.
8. Geoffrey Keezer / Peter Sprague Band Mill Creek Road (SBE Records) This disc represents yet another idea of where jazz music might be leaning in the future. Synthesizing elements from the bebop, world-music and free aesthetics, the influences of Chick Corea and Pat Metheny shine through in this album of wide variation and virtuosic execution.
9. Daniel Rosenboom Septet Fallen Angeles (Nine Winds)
Rosenboom’s tart, precise, clarion-call trumpet is joyously combined with the astringent alto saxophone of Gavin Templeton and the startling bass clarinet maneuvers of Brian Walsh in a frontline ably supported by David Rosenboom’s piano, Sam Minaie’s bass and Caleb Dolister’s drumming.
10. Vinny Golia Quartet Take Your Time (Relative Pitch)
Golia’s quartet combines long-time associates Bobby Bradford’s trumpet, Alex Cline’s drums and Ken Filiano’s bass in an ecstatic program of compositions that reference the work of Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman. Every solo tells a story in this wildly swinging collection.

JazzWord review by Ken Waxman

Michael Dessen Trio – Forget the Pixel (CF 222)
Joe Fiedler Trio – Sacred Chrome Orb (Yellow Sound Music)
Perhaps there’s more than a kernel of truth in those clichés about energetic New Yorkers and laid-back Californians. How else could one explain the massive variance between performances on these discs, each featuring a bassist, a drummer and a trombonist-leader playing original compositions by the brass man? In a way it’s a difference between lively and listless.

It’s not that Forget the Pixel is that enervated. It’s just that a certain sameness seems to permeate the seven compositions by trombonist Michael Dessen. Dessen, an academic with an interest in new technologies as well as telematic performances in multiple locations, adds computer wave forms to this disc in order to enhance the low-key proceedings. The results curve and undulate nicely, but not enough to alter the air of lethargic moderation that permeates the disc. Besides some rapid capillary movements from Dessen in the JJ Johnson lineage however, the most affecting overall performance is the title track. Here at least brushes-directed ruffs and bounces, spelled with an occasional martial beat, from drummer Dan Weiss, coupled with speedy stops as well as sul ponticello slides from bassist Christopher Tordini provide back-up for the trombonist’s slurs, puffs and squeezes.

Weiss, who has worked with saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, and the bassist, who has played with saxophonist Greg Osby, have established their dependability in the past. Meanwhile Dessen, who has been part of the West Coast-based Cosmological band with saxophonist Jason Robinson and others, has similarly demonstrated his musical skills elsewhere. Maybe a concentration on performances over the internet with players in different locations has dulled his live presentation.

Moving eastward, there’s certainly no hesitation on Sacred Chrome Orb as the trio handles 15 compositions by trombonist Joe Fiedler. An adaptor of the multiphonics pioneered by German trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff, Fiedler has worked in the bands of multi-reedist Anthony Braxton, pianist Satoko Fujii and even pop star Jennifer Lopez. The third CD by this trio, the band is filled out by bassist John Hébert, who has worked with cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum; and drummer Michael Sarin, first call percussionist for bands ranging from those led by bassist Mark Helias’ to saxophonist Tim Berne.

Throughout Sarin’s percussion smarts allow him to vary his beat so that at points it sounds as if he’s whopping a conga drum and elsewhere as if he playing patterns on a dumbek. The later is especially apparent on “Ethiopia”, influenced by pop singer from that African country, which is also enlivened with the drummer’s tick-tock rim shot and cymbal colors, as the trombonist blasts out tremolo grace notes and blurry cross tones.

Hébert shows out his guitar-like facility on “Next Phase” accompanying a guttural, double-tongued line from Fiedler. Meanwhile “Two Kooks” demonstrates how extended brass techniques including splintered and splayed slide positions and decorated grace notes can swing alongside a heavy backbeat. The thematic line is extended still further by Fiedler on “Chicken”, with rubato slurs and triple-tongued fluttering shading the lively performance. As Sarin clip-clops and rebounds, and Hébert holds down the rhythmic bottom, the trombonist elongates and shortens his breaths for melodic invention.

One would figure in different circumstances – was there a jet-lag drawback in this Lisbon-recorded disc for instance? – that Dessen’s three would put in a less time-marking performance. As these CDs stack up though, the session from the Easterners is definitely more appealing than the one from the West Coasters.

Downbeat review by Bill Meyer

Michael Dessen trio – Forget the Pixel (CF 222)
Trombonists were jazz’s original electronicists. While they’ve shared the responsibility for creating sound effects with trumpeters—the Duke Ellington Orchestra had Bubber Miley as well as Tricky Sam Nanton—what acoustic instrument better provides volume, brightness, malleability and purely sensual sound? George Lewis has played slide trombone and electronics with equal facility, and his former student Michael Dessen makes the two instruments work as one on Forget The Pixel. Dessen switches between voluptuous lyricism and digitally distorted splatter, and his shifts between those poles never feel forced or arbitrary. This is the trio’s second album, and it sounds like the work of a gigging band. How much of this work took place with all three men in the same room is open to conjecture. Dessen lives and teaches in Irvine, Calif., a continent away from his New York-based confederates, but he is a pioneer in telematics, the practice of long-distance, real-time collaboration. But whether their chemistry was forged with the assistance of bandwidth or frequent flyer miles, it’s real. You can hear it in the way Christopher Tordini’s figures sway and give under the influence of Dan Weiss’s martial snare beats on “Licensed Unoperators (For Lisle).” It’s also evident on “Herdiphany,” where they supply stop-start responses to the pitch-shifted squiggles that Dessen pokes their way like some cartoon rabbit sticking out his impossibly elongated tongue at hunters who are both his dogged nemeses and closest associates. These guys don’t just play together—they’re playing. This playfulness, as much as their fluid negotiations of Dessen’s jagged rhythms and elaborate melodies, is the spoonful of sugar that make these rigorous improvisations go down easy.

All About Jazz Italy review by Vincenzo Roggero

Michael Dessen Trio – Forget the Pixel (CF 222)
Valutazione: 3.5 stelle

I brani sono sette ma l’ora di musica contenuta in Forget the Pixel (bel titolo preso dalla prima riga del poema di Phillis Levin “Open Field”) può essere vista come un’unica suite, concepita già all’origine per una esibizione senza interruzioni del trio. Il trio, per l’appunto, ma dovremmo parlare di quartetto perché l’elettronica utilizzata dal leader, il trombonista Michael Dessen, è a tutti gli effetti il quarto strumento utilizzato per la registrazione.
Già da diversi anni studioso degli sviluppi nell’uso di computer, live processing e sampling come pratica improvvisativa e soprattutto di sue possibili formalizzazioni in modelli, Dessen utilizza l’elettronica non in senso coloristico ma come paritario interlocutore delle libere improvvisazioni. Così che, anche la sua assenza o i momenti di minimo utilizzo, incidono profondamente sulla registrazione che è una sorta di manuale non scritto sull’interazione tra scrittura e improvvisazione.

Vi è inoltre un lavoro sulle scomposizioni ritmiche, sullo sviluppo di cellule melodiche e su di una concezione avventurosa della fluidità espressiva che risulta notevole anche grazie all’apporto di due grandi musicisti come il percussionista Dan Weiss (assai noto anche dalle nostre parti) e il contrabbassista Chris Tordini (meno noto ma altrettanto rimarchevole). L’approccio strumentale e improvvisativo di Dessen è molto personale, ricorda alcune cose sperimentali di George Lewis con una maggior propensione ad inglobare elementi di musica colta europea e contemporanea.

Complessivamente Forget the Pixel, nonostante qualche momento un po’ dispersivo, è un ottimo esempio di musica avventurosa e pienamente accessibile.

JazzWrap review by Vern

Michael Dessen
Michael Dessen has an uncanny ability to craft pieces that are delicately structured but also uncharacteristic of his contemporaries.

Similar in vein to Ray Anderson, Dessen also has the ability to move between genres with ease. While he has recorded in many different settings, it has been his recent trio work that has really caught my ear.

Formed only a few years ago, Dessen uses the trio format to explore a number conceptual rhythmic structures. This makes for intensive listening but also a high degree of discovery.

On their first album, Between Shadow And Space (Clean Feed; 2008) along with Christopher Tordini (bass) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums) create a dense, evocative and fluid mixture of acoustic and subtle electronic instrumentation that is really mind-blowing on first and repeated spins.

The title track deploys a rich counterpoint and improvisation. Tordini and Sorey are the perfect counter for Dessen’s compositions. This trio challenges and explores each other’s strengths. Patterns are structures are slowly built up and quietly torn down over the course seven minutes on the opener and the listener gets a full understanding of what Between Shadow And Space will be for them–A journey through space, sound and thought.

“Chocolate Geometry” moves along in multi-layered fashion. It’s like meditative suite. Gentle introspective passages delivered by simultaneously by Sorey’s complex brushes and some dense strokes from Tordini. Dessen’s trombone turns into a manipulated trumpet augmented by just the right amount of electronics to mix things up and send the piece soaring.

“Water Seeks” comes flying in to the close out the session. A beautiful and searching piece dedicated to Alice Coltrane with all the harmonics and resonance that would be associated with great composer/harpist/keyboard player. It’s loaded with rich texture, sharp hues and rising atmospherics that quietly fades leaving the listener some traces of a long beautiful journey.

Dessen reassembled his trio for the even more rugged Forget The Pixel (Clean Feed; 2011). This time with Dan Weiss on drums and Tordini remaining. The results are the same but Weiss does pack a aggressive punch to Sorey’s more insular and thought-provoking approach. Both drummers are perfect in this setting though.

“Fossils And Flows” rips through the speakers introducing the lineup and direction. The trio never let up. Its sound quickly becomes an avalanche and Dessen’s use of electronics feels like a thousand aliens sending a message that things will be different this time as his group visits your stereo. “Fossils And Flows” is actually an observation on the BP oil spill in the U.S. and and when listening, you get the feeling how things quickly got out of hand in the Gulf is similar to how unique the sound of this trio moves shapes and patterns.

“Forget The Pixel” is a more organic and improvised piece with each member exploring different aspects of Dessen’s composition. It’s a number that moves, and moves with light but an effective pace. Dessen and Tordini’s exchanges are tight and beautiful well placed. Weiss’ drums come in first like a military band and quickly turn impressionistic. Tones and utilization of space is one of the reasons why I have been so captivated by Michael Dessen’s trio work. “Three Sepals” is another exemplary mark of his unique writing skill. It’s a subtle ballad that stretches from note to note. It also has just the right amount of hard tones to keep the listener engaged, waiting for the next unknown marker. A real treat for the ears.

I have to admit, I’ve only just discovered Michael Dessen’s work in the last year so I have a lot of catching up to do. But from his trio work and a couple of other albums I’ve gotten over the last few months I am completely absorbed and excited by his material and direction. His playing and writing are superb. He doesn’t use the electronics as a gimmick. The sounds are more a subtle aid moving in and out time. They never overtake the rhythm or the meaning of a tune. And that’s pretty hard to do. Michael Dessen has proven he is a gifted artist with the trombone, electronics and in composition. An artist who is continually thinking and rising above.

All About Jazz review by Glenn Astarita

Michael Dessen Trio: Forget The Pixel (CF 222)
This jazz trio, manned by Southern California-based slide trombonist Michael Dessen, sports a full-sized sound and abides by a rather springy group-centric mode of attack. Dessen’s solo work, co-leader outings, and stints with major progressive-jazz artists complement his educational duties at the University of California, Irvine.
The trombonist parlays a worldly and comprehensive stance on Forget The Pixel, where the musicians share equal footing amid rousing passages, bustling rhythms, and the leader’s bizarre, yet sagacious electronics overlays. The trio adds a multidimensional outlook via ethereal and penetrating segments, in concert with a few spacey interludes that prompt semblances of an intergalactic abyss.

Dessen’s expansive improvisational angles are woven into the structured mechanisms. On “Three Sepals,” the artists fuse subliminal aspects with introspective dialogues, honed down by bassist Christopher Tordini’s entrancing solo. Here, and in other regions of sound, the trio either ups the ante or delves into free-form microtonal episodes, underscored by edgy minimalism.

Dessen’s use of electronics offers a bizarre perspective and acts as the lead voice on the asymmetrical piece “Herdiphany.” But the group often roughs it up and embarks on offbeat treks, seeded with depth and effective use of space. The musicians travel to a numbing dreamscape, and catapult into a brazen succession of exchanges.

Michael Dessen Trio spawns a polytonal and radiant architecture, enraptured by a sense of fractured realism. The leader’s laudable technical faculties and keen imaginative powers are attributes that contribute to the persuasiveness of this multi-tiered program.

All About Jazz review by Robert Bush

Michael Dessen Trio: Forget The Pixel (CF 222)
Trombonist Michael Dessen once studied with George Lewis, hung with Ray Anderson, and has ascended to their level on the creative improvising scene. Dessen has his own distinct style, one that values nuanced gestures as highly as it does exuberance; therefore his music creates a micro world of detail and organically developed themes.
The music for this album was actualized over the course of a year of experimentation. Dessen’s trio-mates live in NYC, and he would visit from his home in Irvine, California to explore and record ideas, forms and cells, then return home to expand and extrapolate those ideas until the seven pieces that comprise this suite were fully formed. There is a surprising amount of written material at hand and it is seamlessly integrated into the improvisational content—forming new aural pathways.

The trio could hardly be more simpatico: Christopher Tordini is a virtuoso bassist who often shares melodic responsibility with the leader. He tempers his considerable chops into a less-is-more aesthetic that always favors the music. Drummer Dan Weiss is likewise an astonishing percussionist who seems to operate on multiple degrees of quiet intensity. When Weiss gets agitated, it propels the music into uncharted territory, and something as seemingly simple as using the brushes becomes a defiance of expectation in his hands.

It’s hard to find a precedent for trio music this balanced and dynamic. One that does seem appropriate is the sublime saxophonist Henry Threadgill’s three-way cooperative Air which explored and codified myriad examples of new music expression in the 1980s and beyond. There is a similar feeling of give and take going on here—as well as an adventurous imagination about structure and form.

The disc begins with the energetic and occasionally violent group exchange of “Fossils and Flows” which carries a strong asymmetrical pulse that drives the music with a loping gait. Dessen pulls and stretches the melody like saltwater taffy—then suddenly, his live laptop electronics enter—acting as a fourth voice in the trio, and setting off some chaotic interplay.

Weiss’ off-centered cymbal washes begin “And We Steal From The Silkworm” before Tordini’s slow, soliloquy of one-note-at-a-time leads Dessen into the melody, measured and probing, before morphing into “Forget The Pixel,” a clarion call of wide vibrato, animal calls and electronic manipulations.

“Licensed Unoperators” explores some architectural improvising methods inspired by the Canadian free jazz bassist Lisle Ellis that utilize written instructions and blocks of sonic activity of indeterminate length. Finally, “The Utopian Tense Of Green” begins as a sensual dance between trombone and bass that quiets down for some exquisite micro-percussive gestures and then veers off into an ethereal trombone choir fading into a quiet reverie that ends the album.

Dessen, Tordini and Weiss have created something very unique and quite beautiful with Forget The Pixel. which both demands and rewards repeated listening.