Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Mark Dresser - Ain't Nothing But a Cyber Coup and You (Clean Feed, 2019)

Master bassist Mark Dresser convenes an excellent septet featuring Nicole Mitchell on flutes and piccolo, Marty Ehrlich, clarinet, bass clarinet and alto saxophone, Keir GoGwilt on violin, Michael Dessen on trombone, Joshua White on piano and Jim Black on drums and percussion to interpret a swathe of original compositions.

While the record may focus on politically oriented material, it leads with “Black Arthur's Bounce (in Memory of Arthur Blythe) which is a wonderful memorial to the great alto saxophonist, opening with a crisp bass and drums back beat and swinging clarinet and trumpet. Flute, violin and bass cavort in open space, with the full band coming together for a joyfully swinging section. There's a wonderful stratified nature to the music with the flute fluttering over horns and violin while the bass and percussion hold up the bottom. A wonderful flute solo from Mitchell emerges over darker flavored piano comping and some rambunctious horns, driving home the fact that this is a wonderful, ever changing performance, like something that Blythe himself might have imagined for one of his masterpieces like Lenox Ave. Breakdown or Illusions. Another lengthy and continuously interesting performance is “Let Them Eat Paper Towels” opening for solo bass and slowly setting the scene by adding further instruments in an abstract format that is heavy on texture and allegory. Sad piano and violin focus the sounds with drums adding a steadier pulse, eventually building a heartfelt and compassionate theme with the music flowing gracefully along crosscurrents of flute, clarinet and piano. Brass adds a further level of depth to this ever evolving mix of sound, one that is gentle, yet firm in its convictions, giving way to flute and percussion in a complex and lovely conversation, leading the music to a fully fledged conclusion. The title piece, “Just a Little Cyber Coup and You” opens with darkly hued and ominous piano, with scalding bowed bass and violin creating a wonderful soaring sound, leading to a flute solo over bubbling percussion and piano that is powerfully performed with stellar improvisation bravado. Bright and nimble clarinet interacts with the sweeping violin creating a wonderful sound statement of creativity in the face of chaos, leading to a trombone feature that is ripe and potent powering the music forward, and a lights out section for the rhythm section.

The music takes on the politically charged nature of Charlie Haden's Revolutionary Music Orchestra, slims it down and repackages it for the modern American dystopia. Dresser's writing is witty and thoughtful, refusing to take rote answers to important questions and also provides ample space for his very talented group to make their voices heard. Ain't Nothing but a Cyber Coup and You - amazon.com

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Ed: (7/18/2019) Fix title (duh.)