Mark Dresser keeps on steppin'

Jazz bassist puts a bicoastal band together for this year's Sedimental You

Dresser’s “TrumpinPutinStoopin,” written up in the New York Times, “has an animated quality...based on its cartoonish namesakes.”
  • Dresser’s “TrumpinPutinStoopin,” written up in the New York Times, “has an animated quality...based on its cartoonish namesakes.”
  • Image by Alessandro D'Amico

“So I’m glad there is a buzz and it’s not accidental” says bassist Mark Dresser, on a Skype call from his office at UC San Diego. We’re discussing the pre-album promotion for his disc due out in November. One track, “TrumpinPutinStoopin,” has been written up by Nate Chinen of the New York Times. “Originally, the tune was absurdly titled, ‘No Gluten for Putin,’ but as the presidential bromance between Trump and Putin came to the fore an even more surreal title was in order. The melody has an animated quality...based on its cartoonish namesakes.”

"Two Handfuls of Peace"

...the Mark Dresser Seven, from <em>Sedimental You</em>

...the Mark Dresser Seven, from Sedimental You

Dresser’s Sedimental You showcases a handpicked septet from both coasts, including 21-year-old violinist David Morales Boroff, flutist Nicole Mitchell, trombonist Michael Dessen, clarinetist Marty Ehrlich, pianist Joshua White, and drummer Jim Black. The recording process was documented on a short video available on YouTube.

“I had received a grant by the Shifting Foundation and some support from the label to help subsidize the recording and part of the plan was to record a video. So I hired a multi-media artist named Kyle Johnson, who’s a graduate student at UCSD. He really got inside the vibe of not just the music but how I approach the music and he captured all of that in this seven-minute clip.

“There was a lot of energy to make this happen — more than any other project I’ve ever done. [Dresser has 13 albums as a leader, 39 as a co-leader, and is a sideman on another 97.] I love when there is synergy between the people. That seems to bring out the best in me and this project really had that. I need people of a certain level of musicianship — in the interpretive and improvisational sense.

“The only time I’m really satisfied is when the music moves into an experimental space where I’m finding stuff that’s completely new to me. I’m really most interested in the process. When it works I’m thrilled, but I just try to keep on steppin’.”

Dresser is guardedly optimistic about opportunities for his large ensemble. “A septet is an expensive beast, especially with musicians living on two different coasts.”

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