October 20, 2013

Playlist Week of 2013-10-19

Mark Dresser Quintet - Nourishments

* Scelsi: Natura Renovatur (Uitti/Münchener Kammerorchester/Poppen) (ECM CD)
* McCoy Tyner: Focal Point (Milestone LP)
* McCoy Tyner: Inner Voices (Milestone LP)
* McCoy Tyner: The Greeting (Milestone LP)
* McCoy Tyner: Horizon (Milestone LP)
* Henry Threadgill Zooid: TOMORROW SUNNY / THE REVELRY, Spp (Pi CD)
* David S. Ware Quartet: Go See The World (Columbia CD)
* David S. Ware Quartet: Surrendered (Columbia CD)
* Barre Phillips: Three Day Moon (ECM LP)
* Myra Melford Be Bread: The Image Of Your Body (Cryptogramophone CD)
* Myra Melford Be Bread: The Whole Tree Gone (Firehouse 12 CD)
* Mark Dresser Quintet: Nourishments (Clean Feed CD)
* Taylor Ho Bynum 7-tette: Navigation (Possibility Abstracts XII & XIII) (Firehouse 12 2CD)
* Mary Halvorson Septet: Illusionary Sea (Firehouse 12 CD)
* Dreams: Dreams (Columbia LP)
* Milton Nascimento: Milton (A&M LP)
* Bill Laswell: Broken Vessels (OST) (Velevel/KOCH CD)
* Tabla Beat Science: Tala Matrix (Axiom/Palm CD)
* Tabla Beat Science: Live In San Francisco At Stern Grove (Axiom/Palm 2CD)
* Jerry Garcia: Garcia Live Vol.3: Legion Of Mary: Northwest Tour ’74 (Round/ATO 3HDCD)
* McDonald & Giles: McDonald & Giles (Cotillion LP)
* Quiet Sun: Mainstream (Antilles LP)
* Vangelis: Opera Sauvage (Polydor LP)
* Automatic Man: Automatic Man (Island LP)
* Automatic Man: Visitors (Island LP)
* X: See How We Are (Elektra LP)
* Thurston Moore: Demolished Thoughts (Matador 2-45RPM LP)
* Lee Ranaldo & The Dust: Last Night On Earth (Matador 2LP)
* Yo La Tengo: Fade (Matador LP)
* Yo La Tengo: “Ohm” (Matador 4-EP)
* Seefeel: Polyfusia (Astralwerks/Caroline CD)
* Seefeel: Starethrough EP (Warp CDEP)
* Seefeel: Quique (Astralwerks/Caroline CD)
* Daft Punk: Random Access Memories (Columbia CD)†/‡
* Pelican: Forever Becoming (Southern Lord 2-45RPM LP)
* Pelican: Arktika (Live From Russia) (Southern Lord CD)
* Red Fang: Whales And Leeches (Relapse LP+12”)
* Uncle Acid: Mind Control (Metal Blade 2LP)



It never ceases to amaze me how the language of jazz continually reinvents itself, remaining constantly recognizable yet endlessly new. For example, on the new CD by the Mark Dresser Quintet, Nourishments (Clean Feed), the bassist/composer takes inspiration from that most avant-garde of traditionalists, Charles Mingus, writing challenging yet often times swinging compositions for a group of musicians with whom he has been closely associated for many years. The result is at once accessible but also cerebral and abstractly beautiful. It is good old-fashioned jazz music, thoroughly reinvigorated.

The Mingus influence comes through in the instrumentation (with Rudresh Mahanthappa on alto saxophone, Micheal Dessen on trombone, Denman Maroney on piano and either Tom Rainey or Michael Sarin on drums) as well as in its compositional approach, reveling in the time-shifting metrical modulation and layered, asymmetrical ostinatos that characterized Mingus’s most memorable work. But there’s more going on here than just a nostalgic tribute. Dresser’s extensive experience with Anthony Braxton and as a leader in his right adds further levels of complexity, with what he calls in the liner notes “timbre sculpting” and “gradience (i.e. the blurring of boundaries between pitch and noise, meter and texture, form and feeling.” On several tracks, Maroney adds microtonal preparations to the piano, scraping and rubbing the strings while Dresser evokes otherworldly sounds with his bow. But, no matter how “out-there” the music might get at times, most of the compositions are built upon semi-conventional forms, ballads and blues, which allow for both collective and group improvisation that is unified, cohesive and utterly compelling. No doubt this is challenging, complex music—but played with such sensuous aplomb that it is delightfully easy to listen to.

In true Mingus-like fashion, several of the pieces are re-workings and rearrangements of prior compositions. For instance, the opening track, “Not Withstanding” began life as “Mauger Time” for the Mauger trio, a slippery, tempo-shifting bass line over which the rest of the group would collectively improvise. Here, Mahanthappa has added a twisty melody, which is fleshed out by Dessen’s trombone. Other tracks (“Canales Rose,” “Rasaman”) were originally conceived “telematically,” using the Internet to rehearse and perform across vast physical distances, with the title track originating in collaboration with filmmaker Sarah Jane Lapp. “Apertivo” was previously recorded on Time Changes (Cryptogramophone) (2005) with Maroney, Sarin and singer Alexandra Montano but is here given a rousing instrumental performance. A boisterous C-jam blues that would make Mingus proud, music that is both deeply rooted in tradition while being ever always up to the minute.

Nourishments is one of those albums that lives up to its title—as well as its delicious cover art. It is certainly good enough to eat. And, like a fine meal, this album is good for you, too, both body and soul. Most highly recommended to even the most cautiously adventurous jazz aficionado!

1 comment:

Sam said...

Another one for the list!

Here are my lists from last week:

Playlist 2013-10-21:

*Anthology of Noise and Electronic Music vol. 2: Second a-chronology 1936-2003 (discs 1, 2)
*Beethoven: Symphony Nos. 1, 3, 6 (Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Hermann Scherchen cond.)
*Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 (Wiener Philharmoniker, Leonard Bernstein cond.)
*AMM: 1970-03-02 London (CDR)
*Miles Davis: In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk, Complete (discs 1-3)
*Miles Davis & Gil Evans: The Complete Columbia Studio Recordings (disc 4)
*Charles Mingus: The Jazz Workshop Concerts 1964-65 (disc 5)
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2013-09-16 “Charts ‘n’ Chops” (wav)
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2013-09-30 “Random Parameters” (wav)
*New Ting Ting Loft: 2013-10-07 “Invitation to Ramble” (wav)
*Herbie Nichols: The Complete Blue Note Recordings (disc 1)
*Subtle Body Transmission Orchestra: 2013-10-05 Sonic Circuits Festival, Washington DC (wav)
*Sun Ra: Cosmo Earth Fantasy: Sub Underground Series Vol. 1 & 2 (Art Yard)
*Sun Ra’s Intergalactic Research Arkestra: 1971-11-11 Delft, Netherlands (CDR)
*When: Homage Series Vol. 1: Sun Ra
*Wrest: Wrest (Jack Wright/Evan Lipson/Ben Bennett) Spring Garden Music 18
*John Zorn: The Dreamers
*Lily Allen: It’s Not Me, It’s You
*Allied Chemical Brothers: Cryptic Snippets
*Beach Boys: Live: The 50th Anniversary Tour (disc 2)
*Mike Elder/Harry Forrest/Sam Byrd: 2013-10-11 (wav)
*Mike Elder/Harry Forrest/Greg Jordan/Sam Byrd: 2013-10-18 (wav)
*Brian Eno & David Byrne: My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
*Grateful Dead: 1989-10-26 Miami (CDR) “Dark Star”
*Grateful Dead: View From the Vault II (1990-07-12) "Dark Star"
*Grateful Dead: 1990-09-20 NYC (CDR) “Space>Dark Star>Playing in the Band Reprise>Dark Star”
*Happy the Man: Happy the Man
*Happy the Man: Crafty Hands
*Happy the Man: “Better Late…”
*Mr. Bungle: California
*Stock, Hausen, & Walkman: Stock, Hausen, & Walkman’s Hangups
*Various artists: Alrealon Musique 2011-2012 Media Sampler

Reading List 2013-10-21:

*Bushmiller, Ernie. Nancy Eats Food (started)
*Perec, Georges. Life: A User’s Manual (started)
*Turow, Scott. Identical (started/finished)
*Gass, William. “I’ve Got a Little List,” in Tests of Time (started/finished)
*Bushmiller, Ernie. How Sluggo Survives (finished)
*Heller, Peter. The Dog Stars (finished)
*Hyde, Lewis. Common as Air (in progress)
*Shakespeare, William. The Tempest (Arden ed., 3rd series, ed. Vaughan & Vaughan) (reread/in progress)
*The Wire Primers: A Guide to Modern Music, ed. Rob Young (in progress)
*Weldon, Michael J. Psychotronic Video Guide (in progress)