Roswell Rudd / Mark Dresser: Airwalkers (2006)
Airwalkers brings together two of contemporary music's finest improvisers, trombonist Roswell Rudd and bassist Mark Dresser, for an informal duo session. Trombone and bass may not be typical duo partners, but these two make a sympathetic and adventurous pair.
Roswell Rudd has experienced an array of musical situations most players will never dream of. A student of Herbie Nichols, a peer to Archie Shepp and Steve Lacy, and a world traveler who has recorded with musicians in Mongolia and Mali, Rudd has even dabbled with No Wave experimentalists Sonic Youth. The unifying factor is always the same; Rudd's singing tone, raw lyricism and robust phrasing. His approach, which is adaptable to any situation, is truly universal.
Mark Dresser's credentials are equally impressive. In addition to co-leading the string trio Arcado and working lengthy sideman gigs with Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton and Satoko Fujii, he's made excursions in contemporary chamber music with Frances-Marie Uiti and Denman Maroney. Dresser has a rich and varied background.
Together these two unveil a program of subdued but infectious tunes that belie their stripped-down setting. Dresser plucks, bows, snaps and slaps his bass mightily as Rudd plies long singing tones and worries shards of hoarse texture with glee. Whether muted or open, his horn conveys a glorious, unpretentious sound, sometimes raw and buzzing, other times dulcet or melancholy. Dresser's bass alternates between sinewy resonance, muted harmonic splinters and spectral arco pedal tones.
The duo engages in light hearted dialogue on the uplifting "Calypso Light," expressive blues meditations on both versions of the title track, and nostalgic remembrances on a heartfelt rendition of "Don't Blame Me." They stoke avant-garde fires on the turbulent "Duality" and clamorous "Burst," also making an extended exploration of space and texture on "Roz MD."
The eclectic program provides a telling snapshot of two masterful improvisers dialoguing in a casual, uncluttered setting. The chimerical combination of Dresser's avant-classicism and Rudd's earthy expressionism make an atypical, but apposite pair. For those interested in adventurous, conversational gamesmanship, Airwalkers is an intimate portrait of two masters at work.
Track Listing: Calypso Lite; Airwalkers (Take Two); Pregnant Pauses; Roz MD; Duality; Burst; Don't Blame Me; Lovers Waltz; Airwalkers (Take One).
Personnel: Roswell Rudd: trombone; Mark Dresser: bass.