Recent Happenings

Mark Dresser Working With Roger Reynolds

by FreeJazz Stef

JC Jones, a bass-player from Israel, and the boss of the Kadima label, and William Parker stretch it even further, with no less than fifteen bass players, playing together in two different locations over the internet, without being "compromised" by other instruments.

In Jerusalem, the musicans are Thierry Barbe (France), Mark Dresser (USA), Irina-Kalina Goudeva (Bulgaria/Denmark),Chi-chi Nwanoku (UK), Michael Klinghoffer (Israel), Bertram Turetzky (USA), J.C. Jones (Israel), Barre Phillips (USA/France),

In New York, the musicians are Trevor Dunn (USA), Henry Grimes (USA), Lindsey Horner (USA), Rufus Reid (USA),William Parker (USA), David Phillips (USA), Sarah Weaver

Deep Tones for Peace is the second in a triptych - the first is Mark Dresser: Guts, and like Guts, the Deep Tones for Peace product includes a CD, DVD, and a very nice, high quality booklet with credits, notes on the music, and photographs. The musical and philosophical concept of Deep Tones for Peace centers on the artists’ belief that (and desire for) their music, their tones and vibrations can bring about a balance in the world with sounds given to garner harmony and peace.

The CD features one 49-minute track titled SLM (Mark Dresser and Sarah Weaver) that features the telematic (simply put: long distance) bass ensemble. There were eight bassists in Jerusalem and six in New York, playing together via teleconferencing hardware and fiber optic networks. Mark Dresser in Jerusalem and Sarah Weaver in New York conducted their respective ensembles, often employing Soundpainting techniques. Aurally SLM has droning, sounds layered on sounds, overtones, and rising and falling volume and intensity. A nontraditional product requires a nontraditional review: this CD isn’t about tunes or solos, or even performances so much - these are all top-notch players - it’s about the performers’ belief that they can make a difference or bring about a change. This is a meaningful, low-toned meditation. Put it on in the morning while you’re getting ready for work or school. Meditate on it, or play it and focus your thoughts toward peace.

The bulk of the DVD is a film that presents interviews with the Jerusalem bass ensemble members and documents several of the performances in Israel over a five-day period. The film opens with a stirring, spoken invocation by bass artist William Parker, and at the film’s end the credits roll over an underscore titled Invocation, which was composed by Parker. The film’s interviews offer insight into the impetus behind the music (both technical/musical and philosophical). Further, these dialogues make quite evident the passion the performers bring to this unique project.

Interspersed with the interviews, are long and short playing segments, which include ensemble pieces as well as solo improvisations from nearly all of the Jerusalem performers—this is a great chance to see and hear some of the preeminent free improvising bassists. Hear Irina-Kalina Goudeva’s gorgeous vocal and instrumental tones on her solo excursion, entitled Menada (Julia Tzenova). Speaking of gorgeous tones, listen to Thierry Barbe’s performance of his composition Pôles et Tropiques. Bert Turetzky superbly delivers spoken word and bass accompaniment on Neruda (his composition, with poetry by David Henderson). For the depth and breadth of sounds drawn from our noble instrument, very few can match Barre Phillips and Mark Dresser - their solo offerings are fantastic! Additionally, the DVD shows two performances in real time, via satellite: one is a duo, Barre Phillips (Jerusalem) and Dave Phillips (New York), and the other is a portion of SLM, with the Jerusalem and New York ensembles playing together - wow!
The main menu of the DVD offers two choices: “Complements” (short informational panels about Kadima Collective, Hors Œil Editions and the ISB), and the film. After selecting the film, one can choose 5.1 or stereo sound options. It is worth mentioning that the DVD is in PAL format (not NTSC) - this means depending upon where you live, you’ll need a DVD player that offers multi-region playback - I had no trouble playing the DVD on my laptop.

This DVD is a must-have if you’re interested in this project at all, and also as a resource for hearing and seeing these extraordinary improvisers creating their Deep Tones for Peace. - Review by Chris Kosky - International Society of Bassists