Bynum & Dresser

bynumIn 2014, Taylor Ho Bynum biked his way down the U.S. Pacific coast, a trip that culminated in crossing the border into Mexico.

The final concert of that journey is now available on Bandcamp, as part of Bynum’s “bootleg” series. It’s a duo with bassist Mark Dresser, consisting mostly of compositions, including a spirited Bobby Bradford cover, “Comin’ On.”

The lack of sustain makes the trumpet and bass an interesting pairing. On compositions like “Coyote” and “Comin’ On,” the melody flickers, like the tip of a flame blinking in and out of position.

More pensive moments are found on compositions such as “ZADE” and “To Wait.” The show is bookended by improvisations: one mostly bright, the other more spacious but still squirrely.

It’s all good music, but it’s enjoyable to also think about the context, as this was the final public concert of the bicycle tour (Bynum played once more, solo, near the U.S.-Mexico border). It’s the culmination of an ambitious project that took a lot of hard work.

The official bicycle tour page is here, and it includes this mini-documentary, where he draws a parallel between the bicycle journey, acoustic music, no-destination improvisation:

Where Everyone’s a Drummer

In the fine “echo chamber” tradition of blogging, I point out that someone else wrote up the last night’s Trio M show in La Jolla, near San Diego.

Robert Bush does a good job reviewing the show for the San Diego Reader, where the headline says the trio “astonished” the audience. Two things that stood out to me:

1. A great description: “On this night, everyone became the drummer, at some point.” Meaning each band member: Mark Dresser (bass), Myra Melford (piano), and of course Matt Wilson (actual drums). It’s an observation you can make about a lot of outside-jazz shows, but it seems particularly pertinent here, where Melford digs into prepared-piano sounds and Dresser explores the percussive side of his instrument. I liked it.

2. Dresser apparently played that Trio M show on Feb. 2 and a Los Angeles date on Feb. 3, flew to Anchorage for a show Feb. 4, and is returning to California for Trio M’s Feb. 6 gig at Yoshi’s San Francisco. That’s hardcore.

Trio M will indeed play in San Francisco on Monday, Feb. 6, ending a quickie California tour to support the new release, The Guest House (Enja, 2012). It should be a great show, but if I can get out on Monday, I might opt instead for the monthly jazz show at The Makeout Room in SF. It’s been too long since I’ve attended one of those, and I know I can’t make it to the March edition.

Upcoming: Yoshi’s

Two Yoshi’s shows that shouldn’t be missed:

Mon., March 28, San FranciscoLisa Mezzacappa’s Bait & Switch, six months removed from an appearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival, will be playing two sets of different music, at 8:00 p.m. and approximately 10:00 p.m.

Suffice to say, they’re a really good free-jazz quartet with some great ideas (sometimes radical, sometimes extensions of the jazz tradition) and a deliciously evil alter-ego as the band Go-Go Fightmaster. They also just might be the most frequently mentioned band on this blog, which is a function not of my stalking them, but of their appearances in high-profile circles, such as Monterey and the Village Voice. Here, look:

Wed., March 30, OaklandTrio M stops by on their way to the Brubeck Festival in Stockton. It’s the combination of Myra Melford (piano), Mark Dresser (bass), and Matt Wilson (drums), who showed their collective stuff on a 2007 album, Big Picture (Cryptogramophone). It’s modern jazz with an agile personality, where the solos take wide turns at the curves and keep only a loose grip on the road. They’re all busy and don’t get together often. Just sayin’.

A Voice from Mexico

Remi Álvarez and Mark DresserSoul to Soul (Discos Intolerancia, 2010)

It’s through recordings that a musician can find an audience beyond local boundaries. That’s probably true even in New York (one’s resume can be covered in gigs and band appearances there, but the recordings are a more convenient calling card). But it’s especially true if you’re outside the accepted free-jazz capitals.

Remi Álvarez is from Mexico City, and it’s safe to say I never would have found him were it not for this recording, his first in eight years. And he’s a terrific find, a saxophonist with a personable touch and a sharply creative mind.

I love the plain sound of his sax. He’s well miked here, with some echo that might just be the sound of the room. Playing lower registers, fast or slow, he’s got a warm sound, with a light and flexible fluttering to long runs of notes. It’s like a kite being steered through a stiff breeze.

Most of the album, which  includes tracks of up to 15 minutes, follows an improvised-jazz course.  Mark Dresser on bass is the better-known musician, and his variety and creativity hold up to the standard you’d expect. Álvarez is right there with him, building a seemingly effortless, conversational mood, lively and intimate.

“Eternal Present” opens the album with a sensitive, sweet air, but the scene gets tougher later on, both in this track and in the scrabbling, heart-pumping track that follows, ironically titled “Do Nothing.”  On only one track, “True Self,” do they spend lots of time in sound-exploration territory, with lots of buzzes and creaks from Álvarez, and Dresser sticking to high, squeaking bowing.

Álavarez teaches for the Escuela Nacional de Música at Universidad Autónoma de México (ENM – UNAM), and I would guess he gets occastional stateside gigs through connections with trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez and with the Houston creative music scene. Odds of his making it to the Bay Area are pretty darned slim, though.