Daily Archives: May 7, 2007

Time Out review by K. Leander Williams

Russ Lossing/Mat Maneri/Mark Dresser – Metal Rat (CF 064)
Some brilliant musical ideas are instantaneously absorbed into jazz’s bloodstream—Miles Davis’s modalism, for example—but others take time. It’s hard to believe that a decade has gone by since impressionistic piano maverick Matthew Shipp debuted his drummerless “string” trio consisting of piano, violin and bass—especially because the mainstream has taken little notice of the dots Shipp connected between jazz-based improvisation and classically expanded harmonies. The magnitude of Shipp’s achievement becomes evident when listening to piano polymath Russ Lossing’s Metal Rat, a disc that explores the concept with assistance from secret weapon Mat Maneri, Shipp’s original violinist.
Maneri’s spatially seductive use of atonality has grown in the meantime, but that’s not the only reason Metal Rat is more now than then. The disc was culled from one astonishingly brief, four-hour recording session, and only one track, “Turn,” reaches beyond six minutes. The sense of urgency seems to heighten each member’s sensitivity to one another. Bassist Mark Dresser is in a class by himself as both improviser and accompanist: It’s instructive to hear him slap counterrhythms on the trio-rrific “Ch’ien” before shadowing Maneri’s lyrical bowing on “Damp(ness),” and becoming the focal point on “Hidden Lines,” a duet miniature with Lossing. If nothing else, the pianist’s warm-blooded avant-gardism should put the mainstream on notice.

All About Jazz review by Budd Kopman

Russ Lossing/Mat Maneri/Mark Dresser – Metal Rat (CF 064)

Metal Rat is a triumph from beginning to end. Along with pianist/leader Russ Lossing, violist Mat Maneri and bassist Mark Dresser have created a work of terrifying intensity and concentration of purpose that is engaging at many levels, simultaneously manifesting a steely ferocity that is nevertheless almost unbearably beautiful.
The ten tracks have but two actual compositions (”Turn” and “Is Thick With”), which are easy to distinguish as such. The other tracks are a mix of trio improvisations (”Coming to Meet,” “Ch’ien,” “Metal Rat” and “Fire Monkey”) and different duo groupings. Lossing states in the notes that he wanted to create a sense of urgency, and the recording session was over in less than four hours.

Maneri and Dresser are both well-known in free jazz circles, and they respond to Lossing with a complete sense of control: everyone is in that “no mind” state of listening and playing without hesitation, existing totally in the moment. The success of Metal Rat lies in the sense of total immersion that the players exude. Each track explores a different emotional world and is generally short, as one might expect from free improvisations. The exceptions are the title track and “Ch’ien,” which are arguably the standout performances.

At over fourteen minutes, “Ch’ien” (reversed in position with “Turn”) is an excellent example of how adept improvisors who are truly free can produce an extended work that holds together, in both the free sections and the ones with a pulse. The feeling they produce is oceanic, carrying on momentum with waves that continuously move forward. The feeling of relentless logic in the music comes from the close playing of the trio.

Those who know Lossing’s work will welcome this intense recording, while those who are new to either Lossing or free jazz can be assured that Metal Rat is a superb example of the genre.