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Tim Ziesmer Trio: Transmissions

Farrell Lowe By

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Transmissions instantly conveys a lyrical sense of warmth. Guitarist, composer, and group leader Tim Ziesmer harkens from the timbral school of Pat Metheny and former teacher Mick Goodrick. Indeed, his shimmering bell-like tone clusters and melodic sophistication suggest that he paid attention in class. Bassist Drew Gress and drummer Brook Martinez help make this trio come alive with their highly interactive and empathic contributions. Gress has played on more records than you can shake a stick at, and he still plays on Transmissions like it's his first time out. That's the sort of commitment essential to a small ensemble's vibrancy.

On "Transmissions 1" the group frays the edges between an Impressionist tone poem, New York City drive, and Americana sensibilities. Ziesmer's subtle use of outboard effects in the opening theme is reminiscent of the spaces explored by Methany and Charlie Haden on Beyond The Missouri Sky from a few years back, but deeper into the piece a significant shift occurs—the drums surge forward with a light breakbeat pattern and the band heads into uncharted stylistic landscapes. The piece is tasteful, beautiful, almost delicate, and filled with verve.

"In The Blood Again" takes on a more muscular rock feel at the outset, but once again, a chameleon slides across the floor as the piece becomes far more harmonically complex. Throughout Transmissions Ziesmer chooses his guitar tones wisely; in his solo on this tune he uses the combination of a clean rounded articulation coupled with the sonic personality of a "nice" Jeff Beck, bringing about a completely different mood and thus creating a depth and richness that guitarists often miss.

"Mention It" is moody and complex with a staggered and unsettled rhythmic feel in its opening theme. In the middle section Ziesmer's quartal harmonies add a beautiful contrast to Gress and Martinez's underpinning—here again bringing richer colors to the piece. "Blurred," an abstract tone poem, begins with Ziesmer's quick distinct melody slowly deconstructed by the group. It moves like ice that's getter warmer and becoming a mutable solid. On "Three Wheels" the band turns up the heat and play with fire. Ziesmer once again shows that he has done his homework in the extended techniques classroom, and the group handles the flames with aplomb.

Fans of guitarists Ben Monder, Marc Ducret, or Timothy Young should find in Tim Ziesmer a new name to add to their list of favorite players. He's put a lot of work into developing his own sound, using effects to complement his articulate tone, and integrating the guitar into an ensemble setting. His compositions are intelligent, compelling—and, best of all, they cover new terrain in the land of modern music-making.

Visit them at:

Track Listing: Transmissions 1; In the Blood Again; Mention It; Blurred; Thousands; January; Albeit; Three Wheels; Ring True

Personnel: Tim Ziesmer-guitar, Drew Gress-bass, Brook Martinez-drums

Title: Transmissions | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: NCM East


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