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Bassist Mark Dresser and vocalist Jen Shyu, have a brand-new CD for the Pi Recordings label, set for an August release.

There aren't a whole lot of bass/vocal duos around, especially in the adventurous context that these two explore in the new disc, Synastry.


Shyu is a remarkable musician, who excelled as a prodigy on piano and violin before she began singing. Trained in classical music, opera and jazz, she is also a committed ethno-musicologist, having studied Balinese gamelan music, and the folk music of Taiwan, East Timor and Cuba.

Although she is capable of astonishing vocal acrobatics, Shyu uses her instrument to facilitate musical expression and collaborative dynamics — in that pursuit, she has found the perfect partner in Dresser, who has an arsenal of extended techniques at his fingertips — yet keeps it all within the sublime give-and-take they chart together.

Fluent in seven languages, Shyu has developed a vocalese of her own design as well as singing some lyrics in English and Mandarin for this recording.

There aren't any extended bass solos on the disc, indeed, everything appears to be split down the middle —from the authorship of the music to the sharing of the microphone.


Highlights include Dresser's supple, loping bass vamp over Shyu's lithe honey-toned phrasing on the 17 beat "Slope A Dope," and the vocalist's pure invention on "Mauger Time," a perfect blend of bass and voice.


For more on "Synastry" go to pirecordings.com


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