All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

298

Michael Dessen Trio: Forget The Pixel

Robert Bush By

Sign in to view read count
Trombonist Michael Dessen once studied with George Lewis, hung with Ray Anderson, and has ascended to their level on the creative improvising scene. Dessen has his own distinct style, one that values nuanced gestures as highly as it does exuberance; therefore his music creates a micro world of detail and organically developed themes.

The music for this album was actualized over the course of a year of experimentation. Dessen's trio-mates live in NYC, and he would visit from his home in Irvine, California to explore and record ideas, forms and cells, then return home to expand and extrapolate those ideas until the seven pieces that comprise this suite were fully formed. There is a surprising amount of written material at hand and it is seamlessly integrated into the improvisational content—forming new aural pathways.

The trio could hardly be more simpatico: Christopher Tordini is a virtuoso bassist who often shares melodic responsibility with the leader. He tempers his considerable chops into a less-is-more aesthetic that always favors the music. Drummer Dan Weiss is likewise an astonishing percussionist who seems to operate on multiple degrees of quiet intensity. When Weiss gets agitated, it propels the music into uncharted territory, and something as seemingly simple as using the brushes becomes a defiance of expectation in his hands.

It's hard to find a precedent for trio music this balanced and dynamic. One that does seem appropriate is the sublime saxophonist Henry Threadgill's three-way cooperative Air which explored and codified myriad examples of new music expression in the 1980s and beyond. There is a similar feeling of give and take going on here—as well as an adventurous imagination about structure and form.

The disc begins with the energetic and occasionally violent group exchange of "Fossils and Flows" which carries a strong asymmetrical pulse that drives the music with a loping gait. Dessen pulls and stretches the melody like saltwater taffy—then suddenly, his live laptop electronics enter—acting as a fourth voice in the trio, and setting off some chaotic interplay.

Weiss' off-centered cymbal washes begin "And We Steal From The Silkworm" before Tordini's slow, soliloquy of one-note-at-a-time leads Dessen into the melody, measured and probing, before morphing into "Forget The Pixel," a clarion call of wide vibrato, animal calls and electronic manipulations.

"Licensed Unoperators" explores some architectural improvising methods inspired by the Canadian free jazz bassist Lisle Ellis that utilize written instructions and blocks of sonic activity of indeterminate length. Finally, "The Utopian Tense Of Green" begins as a sensual dance between trombone and bass that quiets down for some exquisite micro-percussive gestures and then veers off into an ethereal trombone choir fading into a quiet reverie that ends the album.

Dessen, Tordini and Weiss have created something very unique and quite beautiful with Forget The Pixel. which both demands and rewards repeated listening.

Track Listing: Fossils And Flows; Three Sepals; And We Steal From The Silkworm; Forget The Pixel; Licensed Unoperators; Herdiphany; Utopian Tense Of Green.

Personnel: Michael Dessen: trombone, electronics; Christopher Tordini: double-bass; Dan Weiss: drums.

Title: Forget The Pixel | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Somewhere In The Upstream

Somewhere In The...

Clean Feed Records
2018

buy
Resonating Abstractions

Resonating...

Clean Feed Records
2014

buy
 

Nourishments

Clean Feed Records
2013

buy
Forget The Pixel

Forget The Pixel

Clean Feed Records
2011

buy
Between Shadow and Space

Between Shadow and...

Clean Feed Records
2008

buy
 

Lineal

Circumvention Music
2007

buy

Related Articles

Read Origins CD/LP/Track Review
Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Say It CD/LP/Track Review
Say It
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Alchemia Garden CD/LP/Track Review
Alchemia Garden
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Don't You Wish CD/LP/Track Review
Don't You Wish
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read "Jazz Triangle 65-77" CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Triangle 65-77
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 20, 2017
Read "Solo a Genova" CD/LP/Track Review Solo a Genova
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 18, 2018
Read "Early to Late" CD/LP/Track Review Early to Late
by John Eyles
Published: March 29, 2018
Read "The Danish Sessions" CD/LP/Track Review The Danish Sessions
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 2, 2017
Read "On The Way Downtown: Recorded Live On FolkScene" CD/LP/Track Review On The Way Downtown: Recorded Live On FolkScene
by Doug Collette
Published: October 28, 2017
Read "Before Dawn" CD/LP/Track Review Before Dawn
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 30, 2018