Mark Segger Sextet: Lift Off

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Mark Segger Sextet: Lift Off
Fracas and focus are not mutually exclusive concepts. In purely linguistic terms, invoking the label "avant-garde" when addressing sound often calls to mind a melee-as-music scenario. The audible truth, however, is something else entirely. An artist's work can lean far to the left without falling off the comprehensibility scale, and drummer Mark Segger makes that argument with brevity and brio.

With twelve years of existence binding concepts and compadres, Segger's sextet operates like a well-oiled, though highly irregular machine. There is a fluid sense of operation in the music, but nobody could mistake the collective whole for an automaton. Absolutely nothing is predictable here. A listen to the title track, moving through thorny brambles and presenting Morse code-like machinations that alternately underpin Jim Lewis' trumpet and Peter Lutek's saxophone, makes that abundantly clear. Then there is the woozy draw of "Cluttertone News," a beautifully groggy, light yet jittery stroll enhanced by Tania Gill's melodica textures and bassist Rob Clutton's embrace of his instrument's full range of sound(s). Third up, "For The Bees" swings, jabs, rides angular pathways and delivers swarming suggestions. It's a number which delights in drawing lines as much as it does in the arrival of the resultant interstices.

Pithy ideals and sprawling substance—not normal bedfellows, for sure—continue to factor into Segger's subsequent offerings. "#18," set off with a skulking bass-and-drums swing, enlivened by the quirky lockstep lines of the horns and given to shambolic showings before reforming, only clocks in at 3:15; the pinpoint call-and-response of the blankly-titled " .... " is over in less than half that time; and the bouncing and intermittently heavy "Slow Motion" lasts just a hair beyond two minutes. But Segger doesn't need a second more in any of those circumstances—or any others—to create completely viable worlds. The disturbing "One Note," built on the tension and stability surrounding a single pitch, and "Bassline," with Lewis, Lutek and trombonist Heather Saumer taking feisty turns (in a different order) over a punctuating and grooving rhythm section, each run longer than the rest of these performances. But that only amounts to a touch past five minutes in each case.

In all honesty, time on task should be no part of the discussion when analyzing art. But Segger makes an important point in showing us that concision can bolster creative music in considerable ways. Living in a world filled with run-on albums and gratuitous free blowing stands, it's rather fresh to hear somebody artfully merge structure and freedom in condensed fashion.

Track Listing

Lift Off; Cluttertone News; For The Bees; #18; ....; One Note; Slow Motion; Bassline.


Mark Segger: drums; Jim Lewis: trombone; Heather Saumer: trombone; Peter Lutek: woodwinds; Tania Gill: piano; Rob Clutton: bass.

Album information

Title: Lift Off | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Self Produced

Post a comment about this album



Shop Amazon


Live At No Black Tie
Jeremy Monteiro, Jay Anderson, Lewis Nash
King of Dowling Street
Lightnin' Hopkins
Mariposas Cantan
Joe Rizo's Mongorama


All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.