“All his characters have bold personalities, and I was mindful of that when I named these cocktails.”
Joseph O'Brien 1 p.m., Feb. 22
These Bonnie Wright concerts just keep getting better. On the last day of March, NYC guitarist Rez Abbasi assembled a special trio with his longtime associate Satoshi Takeishi on drums and SD bassist Mark Dresser for a riveting performance of daring improvisational give-and-take at Space 4 Art in the East Village, another gem in the Fresh Sound series Wright curates.
Abbasi began "Rivalry," with stair-step arpeggios engaging Dresser with ominous unisons while Takeishi tattooed violent, asymmetrical counterpoint. As the guitarist's squiggly lines grew more agitated Takeishi responded in kind--dialing up waves of intensity from his tiny drum kit. His solo began with blurred hands-on-skins and continued with a fusillade of sticks.
"Blood Orange," featured a kind of Metheny Trio vibe before Dresser emerged, tossing piercing thumb-position darts, strummed double-stops and windmill assaults on the strings. Abbasi followed with neat modal voice leading and quicksilver runs that sailed upon the waves of propulsion supplied by Takeishi.
Over a looped Middle Eastern-sounding riff, Dresser introduced the signature bass line to Keith Jarrett's trance-inducing "The Cure," as Abbasi decorated the theme and lashed out with tangential scales.
There was a top-note dissonance inherent in Abbasi's voicing's to the gentle "Etude For Malala," which yielded to Dresser's supremely dark arco solo--naked, vulnerable and laced with viscera.
Abbasi lit into a super-charged improvisation over the lurching accents of the rhythm section on "Divided Attention," with serpentine filigree dancing against the cycling, broken motifs of Takeishi--who provided a constant, yet unpredictable series of disruptive explosions to heighten the tension throughout.
Dresser began "Back Skin," alone, with a series of astonishing sounds one never expects from the bass-- grainy bi-tones, slippery amplified overtones, contrary two-handed tapping and double glissandi, eventually landing on the staggered bass line foundation over which Abbasi strung wicked streams of chromatically affected ideas until, ultimately a furious "jazz-time" section developed-- complete with walking bass and something resembling a ride cymbal pattern.
Saxophone giant Wayne Shorter said recently that, to him, the word jazz meant, "I dare you." I couldn't help thinking about that while these three guys kept upping the ante on each other.
Photo by Bonnie Wright