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Mark Dresser: Ain't Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You

Dan McClenaghan By

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Bassist Mark Dresser played on saxophonist Joe Lovano's Flights Of Fancy: Trio Fascination, Edition 2 (Blue Note, 2001), and he sat in with soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom on her Like Silver, Like Song (Artist Share, 2005) and Chasing Paint (Arabesque, 2002); and he and drummer Jim Black filled in as trio mates on pianist Satoko Fujii's trio of superb recordings, Junction (2001), Illusion Suite (2003) and Trace A River (2006), all on Libra Records. This gives you an idea of the company he keeps when not recording as a leader.

Ain't Nothing But A Cyber Coup and You, by the Mark Dresser Seven—that includes his formerly mentioned Satoko Fujii Trio band mate Jim Black—wraps up Dresser's distinctive musical vision in a beautiful, loosely-wrapped package, with the help of a first rate group of free jazzers.The set is suffused with an admitted influence of bassist/composer/bandleader Charles Mingus to " ...engage with our current dystopian landscape from a place of hope and positive potential," in times as challenging then as now.

The septet represents a little big band sound, in its freewheeling-est sense. Dresser's compositions and arrangements are idiosyncratic and original to the max; comparisons of his sound to are hard find. With Nicole Mitchell's flutes, Marty Ehrlich's clarinets and alto sax, Keir Gogwilt's violin; and Michael Dessen's trombone, the timbral experience is rich and quirky. The rhythmic drive, provided by Dresser, Black and pianist Joshua White, is mostly hard-rolling, mostly on an alignment that—if we were talking cars—would seem in need of an alignment. The title tune, indeed, could serve as a soundtrack of a well broken-in dune buggy careening down a desert wash, in all its wobble-wheeled, rattling suspension glory.

The disc opens with "Black Arthur's Bounce," a tribute to one of Dresser's old running mates, alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe. Dresser's bass provides the bounce. The rest of the septet rambles along, a slightly askew unison, with broken moments featuring in-and-out flash solos—bass, violin, flute. Then Marty Ehrlich gets his turn, playing a peppery alto sax, a nod to Blythe's sound.

"Let Them Eat Paper Towels," takes inspiration from an unfortunate, dumb-ass Presidential stunt in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico. It begins with an unsettled atmosphere that gels into a groove with some beautiful flute/trombone interplay, leading into Marty Ehrlich's smooth, rich-toned clarinet that gives way to a series of sinuous violin lines.

The six longer ensemble tunes here are separated by short—a minute or less—bass solo interludes improvised on the Maclagan Tines, a set of graduated steel rods. These add to the avant-garde atmosphere on a set that at times leans, slightly, away from Dresser's usual out there sensibilities, into groove engaging melody and cool and unusual harmonies.

Track Listing: Black Arthur’s Bounce; Pre-Gloam; Gloaming; Pre-Maria; Let Them Eat Paper Towels; Far; Embodied in Seoul; Pre-Coup; Ain’t Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You; Song Tine; Butch’s Balm.

Personnel: Nicole Mitchell: flute, alto flute, piccolo; Marty Ehrlich: clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone; Keir GoGwilt: violin; Michael Dessen: trombone; Joshua White: piano; Mark Dresser: double bass, McLagan Tines; Jim Black: drums, percussion.

Title: Ain't Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

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