Bassist Mark Dresser has always made music at once serious, compelling, and playful, prioritizing creativity while addressing larger questions of the day.
So it is with Ain’t Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You (May 10, 2019, Clean Feed), the sophomore release by the Mark Dresser Seven, a worthy follow-up to the ensemble’s highly acclaimed 2016 Clean Feed debut Sedimental You.
Ain’t Nothing But a Cyber Coup & Youshowcases new music and improvisations by the seven-piece band that “has the punch of a small group and the detail of an orchestra” (Kevin LeGendre, Jazzwise). Dresser and flutist Nicole Mitchell, multi-reed player Marty Ehrlich, trombonist Michael Dessen, pianist Joshua White, drummer Jim Black, and new addition Keir GoGwilt on violin explore multiple jazz traditions in six new compositions that include pieces for fallen friends and irreverent political commentary, as well as some with purely musical agendas. Between the composed works are brief solo bass interludes improvised on the McLagan Tines, a set of seven graduated steel rods invented by luthier Kent McLagan.
“Black Arthur’s Bounce,” dedicated to the alto saxophone giant Arthur Blythe, opens the album and features Marty Ehrlich who (along with Dresser) played with Blythe. In the tradition of Charles Mingus, both the title tune, “Ain’t Nothing But A Cyber Coup & You” and “Let Them Eat Paper Towels” (the latter initially inspired by the headline of a Paul Krugman column written in response to President Trump’s post-Hurricane Maria visit to Puerto Rico), engage with what Dresser describes as our current “reality-horror-show of corruption, malice, xenophobia and class warfare.”In contrast, the parametric waltz “Gloaming” uses multiple levels of polyrhythm which expand and contract within shifting meters of lyricism, while “Butch’s Balm” pays tribute to Dresser’s dear friend, the late pianist and teacher Butch Lacy. “Embodied in Seoul,” first conceived for the 2018 telematic concert Interconnections For Peacebetween ensembles in New York City, San Diego, and Seoul, is reworked into a smaller, tighter version stemming from a single melody and culminating with the convergence of the entire ensemble in a harmolodic whole.
With Ain’t Nothing But a Cyber Coup & You, Mark Dresser continues to prove himself “a giant of the avant-garde jazz scene” (Felipe Freitas, Jazz Trail), exploring new ideas in jazz through vibrant compositions and celebrating the solo power of this ensemble of virtuoso improvisers. The final result is magnificent, as you would expect from this pathfinder.
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