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Live Reviews

Mark Dresser / Myra Melford / Michael Dessen: San Diego: April 17, 2011

By Published: April 28, 2011
The final set of music again featured two totally improvised pieces based on the artwork of Don Reich, "Piano Music" and "Deep Forest." The first began with Melford tossing out Monk-ish, chromatic intervals. Meanwhile, Dresser injected an abstract, but palpable, swing-time aesthetic. The pianist responded with nervous declaratives and Dessen invented his own real-time melody that perfectly circumnavigated the efforts of his associates. The energy kept dialing up—soon Melford was in Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
territory, a space that Dessen and Dresser were only too willing to occupy. Finally, the piano and bass dropped out and Dessen let loose with a show-stopping cadenza that sounded like hornets being blown out of the trombone bell.

Dresser opened "Deep Forest" with his own solo tour-de-force. Using both hands to tap independent lines that moved in opposite directions, the bassist seemed transfixed in the beautiful world he was creating. Dessen added his touches, exploiting the tonal range of his horn: sometimes with a golden, dipped-in-honey timbre, sometimes followed by huge, fat discourses that threatened to warp his horn. Melford got in a short, powerful turn, then it was a gradual diminuendo on pedal tones to close out the improvisation.

The wild, multidimensional affair drew to a close with an original by the trombonist, "Quark Charms." This was the perfect piece to end with, as it served as a most logical bookend to the opener, with a similar modal, call-and-response melody and pensive, thoughtful soloing.

Kudos to the University of California for funding this marriage of state-of-the-art technology with the absolute cutting edge of adventurous music. Much respect to Dresser, Melford and Dessen for taking the leap into the brave new world of telematic performance.

Photo Credit

Jim Carmody

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