September 11, 2000
MARK DRESSER/FRANCES-MARIE UITTI
Cryptogramophone CG 104
Two stringed instruments, three bows, no waiting, could be the motto for this disc. For the dusky, atmospheric sounds that arise from this session are partially created by Frances-Marie Uitti's unique technique. Using two bows, the French New music luminary is able to create so many voices that the overall effect is of an entire string section playing, rather than just the bass and cello.
Not that New York downtowner Mark Dresser is left behind either. Multi-stylistic, with a through grounding in both so-called "serious" music as well as jazz, he can get almost as many resonant effects out of his instrument with just bows and fingers as Uitti produces with her double bows. In fact there are times as on "Grati" and "Sotto" when the astute listener could satisfy his or her bass desires by concentrating on the lower pitched instrument. Additionally the absence of percussion is overcome by using the bow as rhythmic accompaniment.
Uitti has used her approach for years to interpret work by such modern composers as John Cage, Iannis Xenakis and Eliott Carter. But considering that all the music is copyright by the two, it would appear that Dresser's improv chops honed with the likes of Anthony Braxton, Mark Helias and Robert Dick transport her that much further into innovation.
All and all, though, the most successful union comes on tracks like "Montebell", when the built up tension and slow release creates uncommon textures. However, overall, the total experiment seems only half-fulfilled because of a sameness of mood and tempo that pervades the disc.
Obviously the CD has an overriding appeal for adventurous string fanciers. Still, a little levity may have made this exercise in string science appear more user-friendly.
Track Listing: 1: Sonomondo 2. Grati 3. La Finestra 4. Montebell 5. Arcahuis 6. Sotto 7. Cielostraat
Personnel: Mark Dresser (bass); Frances-Marie Uitti (cello)