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by Mark F. Turner
Drew Gress might be suffering from a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde complex. On one side, he's the mild-mannered, in-demand bassist whose exemplary fret work has supported other artists' recordings--pianist Fred Hersch, The Claudia Quintet's For (Cuneiform Records, 2007) and the Steve Lehman Quintet's On Meaning (Pi Recordings, 2007), to name just a few. However, on the flip side, a ferocious alter-ego emerges when Gress is a leader, producing some of the most dynamically forward music in the current environment with The ...read more
by John Kelman
Bassist Drew Gress returns with the same group from 7 Black Butterflies (Premonition, 2005), but The Irrational Numbers is more than a logical continuation of Butterflies' postmodern lyricism. Instead, it's an album of more vivid extremes, ranging from detailed writing to even freer improvisational exchanges and an overall greater sense of adventure. Not that Butterflies was anything but intrepid, but Numbers ups the ante with ten Gress originals, proving the old adage about being the sum total of one's experiences. ...read more
by Rex Butters
Drew Gress throws his contender for year's best in with 7 Black Butterflies, a crackling collection uniting a stellar cast of players who live up to their collective reputation. With Tim Berne, Ralph Alessi, Craig Taborn, and Tom Rainey fully engaged, Gress holds an all-aces hand. His multifaceted compositions provide the tracks for this ride, while the quintet provides the vivid scenery. While Berne, Alessi, and Taborn usually inhabit worlds of sonic phenomena, the simple acoustic setting here spotlights the ...read more
by John Kelman
Along with Scott Colley, Drew Gress must be the most ubiquitous bassist on the New York scene. Gress' broad stylistic reach has allowed him to support artists including pianist Fred Hersch, trumpeter Dave Douglas, and saxophonist Tim Berne since arriving on the scene in the late '80s. Capable of bringing an unerring sense of tradition to mainstream acts and a free-spirited sense of adventure to those from left of centre, Gress has also been gradually emerging as a composer of ...read more
by Sean Patrick Fitzell
Bassist Drew Gress consistently delivers, whether he's playing straight-ahead or outwardly adventurous music. He maintains a vigorous touring and recording schedule with a swath of the jazz community. Though creatively challenging, this approach has limited the time he has to develop his own music. With 7 Black Butterflies, his third CD as a leader, Gress makes a compelling musical statement with structured and purposeful composition, supported by focused improvisation. While the tunes are often complex, both rhythmically ...read more
by AAJ Staff
Most of the music on this exhilarating record defies easy description. Much of it is lyrical, even beautiful. There's some driving, fiery swing. The improvising is of a consistently high order throughout. And Gress contributes his inventive compositions, with structures that challenge the improvisers with knotty harmonies and tempo changes. On 7 Black Butterflies, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and the parts are extraordinarily good.
Tim Berne's contribution is obvious. The alto saxophonist ...read more
by Mark F. Turner
Music that reveals beauty even in the Rhinoceros... To say that Drew Gress may be one of today's premier bassists/composers is a bold statement, but one with considerable merit. The veteran player has profoundly enhanced numerous recordings by names like Uri Crane, Don Byron, and Ravi Coltrane with his distinct sound, dynamic playing, and writing abilities. But his most revealing work has been on his own recordings, of which 7 Black Butterflies is simply a cut above ...read more