Tag Archives: MIchael Dessen

Touching Extremes review by Massimo Ricci

CF 279Mark Dresser Quintet – Nourishments (CF 279)
I have spent several consecutive days with Nourishments. Listened to it in every possible situation. Appreciated each nuance of its palette. But remained – for a long time – at a loss for words when facing the task of writing about it. Perhaps because this is a classic case of music whose eloquent communicativeness speaks for itself, who knows. These 73 minutes have become a rewarding acoustic proximity in a peculiar phase of my life, transmitting a message where everything one needs to discover is right there. No extreme searching required.

In the liners, Dresser quotes the influence of Charlie Mingus on the work’s conception before proceeding to explicate very accurately the collations and superimpositions of themes, meters and contrapuntal constituents. The composer’s analytic explanations are just substantiating snippets of what the ears already perceive as perfectly shaped phenomena. To begin with, rarely you will find yourselves in the condition of “remembering” a melody, for the multitude of fragments and sketches is on such a level of intelligible intertwining that a coherent wholeness gets easily acquired as a “general concept” while the alert mind scrutinizes the courses of the single instruments at the same time. This sensation of operational simultaneousness is the truly sweet trait here, dynamism and reflection running collaterally yet marvelously coalescing. Personal favorites in that regard are the title track and the superbly executed “Canales Rose” and “Rasaman”.

Special mention must be made of Maroney’s hyper-piano, its metallic slippery providing various incidents with a refreshing awareness of proportionate instability, whereas Mahanthappa’s ridiculous reed chops define recurrent flights of fancy across paths of transparent logicality. All the participants deserve applause for their ability in merging humanness and clarity, idealism and mathematical discipline. And, of course, Dresser’s control of the affecting howls generated by his bowed partials is nothing short of staggering. The enlightened leader of a collective of investigators gifted with bright intuitions and sense of belonging to a project that wrestles the commonplaces of jazz in spite of an indiscussable technical prominence.
http://touchingextremes.wordpress.com/2013/12/05/4204/

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.

Free Jazz review by Paul Acquaro

CF 279Mark Dresser – Nourishments (CF 279)
****
In a very recent interview with Avant Music News, bandleader and composer Mark Dresser explains that the origins of his new album Nourishments began with a musical / culinary exchange between Chef Paul Canales and one of Dresser’s groups, Trio M, that included concerts with Canales cooking for the audience for between-set-dining.

Suffice to say, Nourishments kicks off in a most fulfilling manner. Melody, rhythm, and harmony are all a part of the spread, and with Denman Maroney at piano, Michael Dessen on trombone, Michael Sarin on drums, Rudresh Mahanthappa on sax, and Tom Rainey on drums, at the table, you know the conversation is going to be good!

The opening track, ‘Not Withstanding’, is an uptempo modern jazz composition that feels at once comfortable but never predictable. There is plenty of edgy playing to grab and challenge the listener, but at the same time, the solos, melodies, rhythms play off of accessible patterns. A hint of prepared piano adds some spice as well. Track three ‘Para Waltz’ begins with the muted piano and Rainey providing atmospheric percussion, and when Dresser comes in, a delicate ballad starts evolving. Enticing harmonies carry a theme that moves unhurriedly along, with solo voices rising and receding in the flow. Dresser’s bass solo is incredibly tasty, employing a certain extended technique to give his sound a metallic edge, adding the sour to the sweet. However, it’s the title track — the main course, if I may — that is the most delectable. Evoking a Latin feel, the catchy rhythmic qualities play against the melodies inviting, and when the two horns play swirling melodic solos at the same time, it stretches the ears far and wide.

Nourishments is an excellent acoustic jazz album that skirts modern and free jazz, hitting all the right notes.
http://www.freejazzblog.org/

Le Son du Grisli review by Luc Bouquet

CF 279Mark Dresser Quintet – Nourishments (CF 279)
Le syndrome premier(s) de la classe menacerait-il le dernier opus de Mark Dresser ? La vélocité d’école de Rudresh Mahanthappa pourrait, dans un premier temps, le laisser croire. Passé Not Withstanding et son thème à embuscades, le quartet va adoucir ses élans et ne plus se précipiter dans l’exploit sportif. Ainsi, les thèmes emprunteront des chemins chromatiques plutôt que de s’adonner aux mélodies ductiles.   Il y aura des canevas répétés obsessionnellement, des unissons poreux et des ambiances anxiogènes. Il y aura des prouesses d’alto, un hyperpiano (Denman Maroney) troublant, un trombone (Michael Dessen) soyeux, un jazz bancal, un batteur (Tom Rainey) amant du conflit et un autre (Michael Serin) soupirant du langoureux, des entrechats trombone-alto. Et enfin, il y aura une science des tuilages, déjà croisée à de nombreuses reprises (pour ne pas dire rabâchée) mais trouvant ici sa plus belle justification.
http://grisli.canalblog.com/archives/2013/11/02/28320245.html

Mr. Stu’s Record Room review by Stuart Kremsky

CF 279Mark Dresser Quintet - Nourishments (CF 279)
The technical proficiency of creative musicians has grown so much over the last few decades that you can write a piece that “phases a seven-bar melody in 5/8 over a five-bar bass line in 7/8” and the group can make it sound as natural as breathing. The Mark Dresser Quintet manages to do that with Rasaman, one of seven tracks on the fulfilling and adventurous Nourishments. Dresser, a virtuoso bassist and a broadly imaginative composer, has gathered old and new friends for this group. Denman Maroney, master of the “hyperpiano” extended piano technique, and drummers Tom Rainey and Michael Sarin have been involved with Dresser’s projects going back decades. Poll-winning alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa has been in a trio with Dresser and percussionist Gerry Hemingway since 2004, and trombonist Michael Dessen has worked extensively since 2008 with the bassist on “telematic” performances linked “via high-bandwidth fiber optic network” connections. As sometimes happens with new ensembles, the previous connections of the musicians in other contexts gives them a head start on developing a group sound. Dresser’s informative liner notes state that this music “is centered around a personal approach to the jazz tradition and the song form…” Some of these original compositions are adapted from other contexts. The marvelous Aperitivo, with its seductive “metric-modulating form that slows and speeds from bar to bar,” first appeared on his Time Changes CD for Cryptogramophone, where it featured vocalist Alexandra Montano. The lengthy and complex title piece, the centerpiece of the CD, was originally conceived for musicians playing telematically in New York and San Diego. References to Monk (in the middle of Nourishments), Mingus (in the smoking opener, Not Withstanding, co-written with Mahanthappa), and the blues (Aperitivo) are filtered through Dresser’s experiences in a variety of musics and his predilection for metric manipulation. The expectation for this lineup is for powerfully individualistic solos, and starting with Mahanthappa’s fiery turn on Not Withstanding, these players do not disappoint. Amid all the tempo shifting and metric complications, the quintet rises to the occasion again and again, animating Dresser’s complex structures with a canny blend of technical rigor and emotional force. Difficult to play, perhaps, but a distinct pleasure to listen to again and again. Nourishments is a beautifully realized project and is highly recommended.
http://skremsky.tumblr.com/

diskoryxeion review by ΦΩΝΤΑΣ ΤΡΟΥΣΑΣ/ PHONTAS TROUSSAS

CF 279MARK DRESSER σημαντικό jazz άλμπουμ
Με καριέρα που αγγίζει ή και ξεπερνά την τεσσαρακονταετία, αφού υπήρξε μέλος των Black Music Infinity του Stanley Crouch (μαζί με τους Arthur Blythe, David Murray κ.ά.) εκεί στις αρχές των 70s, ο κοντραμπασίστας Mark Dresser ήταν, είναι και παραμένει μία σημαντική μονάδα για την jazz της Δυτικής Ακτής. Πόσω μάλλον όταν στο πιο πρόσφατο άλμπουμ του, που έχει τίτλο “Nourishments” [CF 279], συνεργάζεται με σημαντικούς παίκτες όπως τον άσσο αλτίστα Rudresh Mahanthappa, αλλά και τους Michael Dessen τρομπόνι, Denman Maroney… υπερπιάνο (ένα πειραγμένο πιάνο) και Tom Rainey, Michael Sarin ντραμς.

Με μεγάλη πορεία στο κύκλωμα της αμερικανικής jazz-avant (συνεργασίες με Marilyn Crispell, Ray Anderson, John Zorn, Anthony Davis κ.ά.), ο Dresser είναι ένας συνθέτης-αυτοσχεδιαστής με κατεκτημένες επιδόσεις. Δεν είναι απλώς τα εντυπωσιακά soli του με δοξάρι (στο “Para waltz” π.χ.) ή χωρίς, είναι κυρίως η συνθετική του διαύγεια που μετατρέπει το “Nourishments” σ’ ένα πρώτης κλάσεως CD. (Επτά είναι τα κομμάτια του άλμπουμ, όλα συνθέσεις του Dresser πλην του εισαγωγικού “Not withstanding” στο οποίο έχει βάλει το χέρι του και ο Mahanthappa). Εκείνο που μένει, ακόμη και με την πρώτη ακρόαση της νέας δουλειάς του αμερικανού (από το Los Angeles) κοντραμπασίστα, είναι η δύναμη, η ευφράδεια και πάνω απ’ όλα το συναίσθημα όσων καταθέτει. Ξεκινώντας από το “Not withstanding” δεν γίνεται να αδιαφορήσεις για το παθιασμένο παίξιμο του Dresser, αλλά και για τις επιδόσεις όλης της υπόλοιπης ορχήστρας (κυρίως την σολιστική άνεση του Mahanthappa, αλλά και τα «ξεκούρδιστα»… υπερπιανιστικά χτυπήματα του Maroney). Το 14λεπτο “Canales Rose” είναι αφιερωμένο στον Paul Canales έναν σεφ του Oakland, το εστιατόριο του οποίου φαίνεται πως στηρίζει την τζαζ σκηνή της περιοχής. Το mid-tempo track έχει bluesy χροιά και… φανταστικά ηχοχρώματα από τον υπερπιάνο του Maroney· το οποίο εντυπωσιάζει και στην εισαγωγή του “Papa waltz” με την πολυρυθμία και τους μικροτόνους. Στο φερώνυμο “Nourishments” η συνθετική φλέβα του Dresser είναι πασιφανής. Οι μπασογραμμές του είναι τόσο «εύπλαστες», ώστε οι μελωδικές ασκήσεις του Mahanthappa και του Dessen να προκύπτουν εντελώς αβίαστα. Παράξενο κομμάτι το “Aperitivo”. Αν και bluesy/μινόρε, αναπτύσσεται μέσα σε μια χαλαρή, lounge ατμόσφαιρα (δυνατό το σόλο στο τρομπόνι από τον Dessen). Λίγο πριν το τέλος, και το 10λεπτο “Rasaman” έχει μία καθαρά ινδοπρεπή χροιά (προσωπικώς θα το χαρακτήριζα indo-jazz track μόνο και μόνο για την ρυθμική του ακολουθία – άπιαστο το rhythm section των Dresser/Sarin). Μπορεί να απουσιάζουν τα ινδικά σολιστικά όργανα, αλλά το άλτο με το τρομπόνι τα υπερκαλύπτουν! Έξοχο κομμάτι! Το άλμπουμ θα ολοκληρωθεί μ’ ένα ακόμη αξιοθαύμαστο track που τιτλοφορείται “Telemojo”. Το κοντραμπάσο (και με δοξάρι) με το υπερπιάνο ετοιμάζουν μία εξώκοσμη ρυθμική γραμμή, πάνω στην οποία θα «πατήσει» βασικά το πυρωμένο σόλο του Mahanthappa. Το “Nourishments” είναι ένα από τα 2-3 ωραιότερα τζαζ άλμπουμ, που άκουσα αυτή τη χρονιά.
http://diskoryxeion.blogspot.gr/2013/10/mark-dresser-jazz.html

JazzWrap review by Stephan Moore

CF 279Mark Dresser – Nourishments (CF 279)
Mark Dresser is one the few distinctive bassist on the scene that continues to impress with complex arrangements that challenge convention. His latest outing as leader, Nourishments, Dresser demonstrates a solid and bold approach with both his playing and compositions. Allowing the quintet to mix things up yet follow a rough set of parameters with beautiful results.

“Not Withstanding” jumps out like a delightful and fierce piece that could have been written by Zorn’s Masada. It’s filled with both improvised accompaniments and stoic solos. All shifting back and forth through various counterpoints making for an intense and fun listen. “Para Waltz,” a wonderful ballad that starts off solemn and quaint thanks to Maroney and slowly builds in stature. Mahanthappa’s horn sounds big yet very romantic pared against Dresser understated touches during this piece.

The harmonic structure of “Rasaman” is highlighted by the always immepecable Michael Dessen and his early exchanges with Mahanthappa. Another lovely and romantic number that feels more like a journey than just a musical number.

Mark Dresser has put together a tightly woven document with Nourishments. An exemplary piece which is also filled with improvisations that while challenging are also very inviting. Nourishments is a superb album that delivers on every construct and theme which should give every listener something to think about after the first spin.
http://jazzwrap.blogspot.pt/

All About Jazz Italy review by Alberto Bazzurro

CF 279Mark Dresser Quintet – Nourishments (CF 279)
C’è il sax alto di Rudresh Mahanthappa a dettar legge nel brano che apre questo nuovo album del sessantunenne (il 26 settembre: auguri) bassista losangelino, per l’occasione alla testa di un quintetto ottimamente coeso entro cui si alternano due diversi batteristi. Ed è, quella di Mahanthappa, una voce iperaffermativa, viscerale, le cui scorribande solistiche (ma anche l’incidenza nei collettivi) segna massicciamente il lavoro, fino a farlo pendere qua e là fin troppo dalla sua parte. Il tratto è ora più colemaniano, ora più dolphyano (quindi più aspro, spigoloso), quando non berniano (per densità), elemento, quest’ultimo, che ritroviamo peraltro nelle stesse atmosfere globali del disco, nell’elemento più squisitamente compositivo, strutturale. Quando è per contro il plastico trombone di Michael Dessen a fare da boa, nello specifico ma qui pure anche come tratto più globale, già lo scenario muta, facendosi più colloquiale, rotondo. E ci sono poi le sezioni in cui il trio senza fiati rimane da solo a menare la danza, e tutto si smagrisce, si rarefa, si raffina, anche, col contrabbasso del leader (non di rado archettato) a fungere da catalizzatore.

Siamo partiti fissando questi paletti, perché di fatto l’intero album si sviluppa a grandi linee lungo tali direttrici, sia negli episodi più diretti che in quelli più compassati, come già i due che seguono l’iniziale “Not Withstanding,” vale a dire “Canales Rose” e “Para Waltz”. Più pieno, invece, “Nourishments,” aperto da un bel dialogo tra i due fiati, col collettivo che prende poi il sopravvento, non disdegnando, a centro brano, gustosi accenti monkiani.

La solidità di quest’ultimo episodio (ma di fatto dell’intero lavoro) si allarga al successivo “Aperitivo,” mentre un duetto Dessen/Dresser introduce “Rasa,” che poi si sviluppa su una sorta di anomalo, robusto contrappunto. Chiude il brano di tratto più berniano (con “Canales Rose”) del CD, “Telemojo,” sorta di ripasso delle architetture che già ci siamo premurati di evidenziare.

Disco senza fronzoli, solido – come si è già detto – e costruito con mano sicura. Composizioni tutte di Mark Dresser, in un caso (“Not Withstanding”) in coabitazione con Rudresh Mahanthappa.
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=9422

Expresso review by João Santos

CF 279Mark Dresser Quintet – Nourishments (CF 279)
****
Mark Dresser possui um par de álbuns absolutamente inclassificáveis na Tzadik, que batizou como “Banquet” e “Marinade”. Entretanto, no início da década passada, em “Aquifer”, apresentava um tema denominado ‘Digestivo’. E o mínimo que se pode dizer é que, na aparência, este “Nourishments”, em que surge ‘Aperitivo’ ou uma dedicação ao chef Paul Canales – que, após 15 anos no restaurante Oliveto, inaugurou este ano o Duende, ainda em Oakland, privilegiando uma agenda de música improvisada ao vivo no acompanhamento da degustação dos seus pratos –, prossegue uma peculiar preocupação com aquilo que, no limite, anima o trato gastrintestinal. O gesto é eminentemente alegórico. E outra coisa não sugere a natureza-morta de Floris van Dyck reproduzida na capa deste CD, que, a pretexto de retratar um comum pequeno-almoço holandês (c. 1610) encena antes uma liturgia eucarística: atente-se à simbologia transubstancial do copo de vinho, do cacho de uvas ou do pão, repare-se na toalha de mesa branca e no queijo em alusão ao período da Quaresma, na maçã cortada em referência ao pecado original, etc. Ou seja, também Dresser aparece aqui numa surpreendente adesão a um rigoroso conjunto de princípios estéticos e regras composicionais – no caso, do jazz –, naquele que, amiúde toldado por uma capacidade de síntese ligeiramente aquém da ideal, se revela um registo essencial na sua discografia. Dir-se-á que no estelar consórcio que reuniu está a razão para tão grande sucesso – à exceção de Michael Sarin, que alterna a posição com Tom Rainey, os restantes elementos do quinteto, Denman Maroney, Rudresh Mahanthappa e Michael Dessen, lideram projetos noutras edições da Clean Feed. Mas a verdade é que tudo depende destas peças de corajosa construção rítmica, inusitado sentido de estrutura e memorável disposição melódica.

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

Um banquete para o espírito

A editora lisboeta Clean Feed continua, indiferente a crises económicas e colapsos do mercado discográfico, a propor acepipes raros. José Carlos Fernandes degustou três lançamentos recentes e ficou confortado

A dimensão de um grupo de jazz nem sempre decorre de opções estéticas ou da disponibilidade e empatia dos músicos – as condicionantes económicas também pesam e, sobretudo no jazz mais afastado do mainstream, dificultam seriamente a sobrevivência prolongada de formações com mais de três ou quatro elementos. É pois com redobrado interesse que se acolhem três discos que dão testemunho da riqueza de combinações que os quintetos e sextetos permitem.

CF 279O contrabaixista Mark Dresser tem uma obra em nome próprio desproporcionadamente breve (quando se atende ao seu enorme talento e experiência) e que é dominada por discos a solo, em duo e em trio. Nourishments (****), gravado por um super-quinteto com Rudresh Mahanthappa (sax), Michael Dessen (trombone), Denman Maroney (piano) e Tom Rainey ou Michael Sarin (bateria), é, pois, peça invulgar. A variedade e generosidade prometidas na recheada mesa da capa são mais que cumpridas no interior: as ideias que desfilam ao longo dos 14 minutos de “Canales Rose” bastariam para sustentar toda a carreira de muitos músicos de jazz que, apesar do prestígio e dos Grammies coleccionados, se limitam a repetir receitas consabidas. Em “Nourishments” Mahanthappa e Dessen engalfinham-se em vertiginosas perseguições sobre secção rítmica ondulante, “Para Waltz” é sereno e melancólico, com Dresser a mostrar a sua arte com o arco, e em “Not Withstanding” o piano preparado de Maroney zumbe como um insecto gigante.

CF 280Depois de construir impressionante currículo como sidemen, o trompetista Nate Wooley estreou-se em quinteto em 2011 com (Put Your) Hands Together. O sexteto que agora se estreia com (Sit In) The throne of friendship (****) não se limita a somar Dan Peck (tuba) a Josh Sinton (clarinete baixo), Matt Moran (vibrafone), Eivind Opsvik (contrabaixo) e Harris Eisenstadt (bateria). As composições e arranjos ganham imenso em elaboração, os instrumentos são emparelhados em combinações invulgares, a tensão e distensão são sabiamente controladas e o resultado exibe uma variedade de cores e texturas dignas de uma orquestra. O CD arranca com uma inspirada recriação do meloso “Old Man On the Farm”, de Randy Newman, que vai sendo tomado pela abrasão e pelo caos; em “Make Your Friend Feel Loved” um post-bop zombeteiro é sequestrado pelo sax barítono de Sinton e convertido numa correria desencabrestada; “My Story, My Story”, é uma ilha brumosa e estática na efervescência dominante.

CF 270Ches Smith & These Arches passaram em 2011 pelo Seixal Jazz e quem não foi ouvi-los ficará arrependido ao escutar Hammered (*****), o segundo disco da formação, que passou, entretanto, a quinteto pela adição do sax alto de Tim Berne. Qualquer grupo gostaria de ter Berne ou Tony Malaby (sax tenor) nas suas fileiras, mas These Arches tem os dois e ainda a guitarra imprevisível de Mary Halvorson, o acordeão e electrónica multiformes de Andrea Parkins e, claro, a bateria irrequieta do líder. Na faixa de abertura, “Frisner”, as fanfarras dementes sobre ritmos quebrados sucumbem à psicose e à adstringência, mas acabam por retomar o tom jocoso, “Wilson Phillip” é a banda sonora de um filme de acção on acid, que acaba por descarrilar e desmantelar-se, a faixa-título é uma máquina implacável propulsionada por riffs demolidores. Que os turbilhões cacofónicos que cruzam a paisagem de Hammered não iludam o ouvinte desatento: esta loucura tem método  e as constantes mudanças de ritmo, colorido e humor são traçadas em papel milimétrico.

Três discos que permitem descobrir travos e aromas diferentes a cada nova degustação.