Skaller / Holt Duo: Music of Mark Dresser (2012)
This duo's first album focuses on a selection of progressive jazz and improvising bass great Mark Dresser's compositions. Known as a first-call session ace, mainly for projects that skirt the boundaries of jazz amid avant-garde inclined encounters, Dresser is also a heralded solo artist. Here, Phillip Skaller and Danny Holt's shrewd integration of pianos, celeste and percussion is the tool of choice for these staggered reconstruction efforts, presenting an impressionistic panorama of Dresser's work. With nimble phrasings, asymmetrical pulses and faint melody lines, the duo exercises a highly rhythmic and surrealist portraiture via swirling dialogues, temperate interludes, and climactic crescendos.
The ten-minute "Para Waltz" contains a brittle storyline akin to a twisted fairytale, as the musicians incorporate minimalism with dainty toy piano notes to contrast their subtle call-and-response exchanges. With trickling lines and delicate mosaics, the piece straddles a fuzzy space that may allude to background music for a children's show tinted with bizarre and extraneous concepts, or a musical setting for an artist delicately stroking a canvas. Toss in a few false endings and succinct cymbal hits, and the musicians' collective imaginative powers offer a provocative stance, framed on inward-looking discourses and capacious theme-building sorties. Effectively, they shun convention and pose an array of persuasive ideologies throughout the program.
Personnel: Philip Skaller: : pianos, celeste, toy piano, melodica, and percussion; Danny Holt: pianos, celeste, toy piano, melodica, and percussion.
Record Label: pfMentum