Downbeat review by Shaun Brady

CF 279Mark Dresser – Nourishments (CF 279)
4.5 stars
Over the course of a thirty-year career, bassist Mark Dresser has forged a deeply individual language that melds extended techniques and a virtuosic but impassioned musicality. What’s most remarkable about #Nourishments#, his first quintet outing since 1994’s #Force Green#, is how this group consisting of such strong voices all combine to speak that language so fluently and with such compelling depth.

That’s not to say that any of those artists forsake their own recognizable identities – there’s no mistaking Rudresh Mahanthappa’s tart, knotty alto, for instance, or Tom Rainey’s swaying, tightrope-in-the-wind rhythms. But on this set of seven compositions Dresser has managed to create environments in which those identities maneuver together through coloristic and polyrhythmic pathways in an intriguingly cohesive fashion.

Much of that can be credited to the ways in which these pieces subdivide the ensemble. Mahanthappa and trombonist Michael Dessen deftly traverse the shifting tempos of opener “Not Withstanding,” while the rhythm section continually reconfigures the ground beneath them. “Telemojo” shimmers with the mixture of Dresser’s arco with the unique, metallic tones of Denman Maroney’s “hyperpiano,” a prepared piano that provides the album with some of its most striking and uncategorizable textures.

The 14-minute stunner “Canales Rose” is based on a tone row inspired by chef Paul Canales, and punctuates quintet passages with solo and duo interactions, beginning with the pairing of the leader’s stealthy resonance with Dessen’s breathy brass. The length allows for a gradual, careful unfolding, which culminates in a profoundly moving bass solo during which listeners may find themselves holding their breath.

“Para Waltz” opens with Maroney’s disorienting modulations, while “Rasaman” hints toward Indian rhythms. And the percussive volleys of the title track spotlight the drumming of Michael Sarin, who alternates with Rainey throughout the disc and brings a more understated and buoyant approach in contrast with Rainey’s more assertive kineticism. In either configuration the quintet is a fluid and eccentric unit, the potential of which the prolific and restless Dresser will hopefully continue to explore.

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