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Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mark Dresser - Nourishments (Clean Feed, 2013) ****

By Paul Acquaro

In a very recent interview with Avant Music News, bandleader and composer Mark Dresser explains that the origins of his new album Nourishments began with a musical / culinary exchange between Chef Paul Canales and one of Dresser's groups, Trio M, that included concerts with Canales cooking for the audience for between-set-dining.

Suffice to say, Nourishments kicks off in a most fulfilling manner. Melody, rhythm, and harmony are all a part of the spread, and with Denman Maroney at piano, Michael Dessen on trombone, Michael Sarin on drums, Rudresh Mahanthappa on sax, and Tom Rainey on drums, at the table, you know the conversation is going to be good!

The opening track, 'Not Withstanding', is an uptempo modern jazz composition that feels at once comfortable but never predictable. There is plenty of edgy playing to grab and challenge the listener, but at the same time, the solos, melodies, rhythms play off of accessible patterns. A hint of prepared piano adds some spice as well. Track three 'Para Waltz' begins with the muted piano and Rainey providing atmospheric percussion, and when Dresser comes in, a delicate ballad starts evolving. Enticing harmonies carry a theme that moves unhurriedly along, with solo voices rising and receding in the flow. Dresser's bass solo is incredibly tasty, employing a certain extended technique to give his sound a metallic edge, adding the sour to the sweet. However, it's the title track -- the main course, if I may -- that is the most delectable. Evoking a Latin feel, the catchy rhythmic qualities play against the melodies inviting, and when the two horns play swirling melodic solos at the same time, it stretches the ears far and wide.

Nourishments is an excellent acoustic jazz album that skirts modern and free jazz, hitting all the right notes.

Check out the group from a Vision Festival appearance a couple years back ... it's a bit more aggressive than the album here, but just as captivating:

You can find a copy at