March 5, 2001
MARK DRESSER/MARK HELIAS
The Marks Brothers
Get rid of that mental picture of Groucho, Chico, Harpo and Zeppo when thinking about this CD. Those Marx Brothers — with a different spelling — really were brothers and created some of the superlative comedies of the 20th century. These Marks Brothers aren't related, but are two of the most creative acoustic bass players in the world.
Of course, anyone contemplating an entire disc of bass duets may think it's a joke as well. Well, t'ain't funny McGee. Both Helias and Dresser have the skills and talents to make a double double bass program as absorbing as anything put together by any number of other instruments.
Consider their backgrounds. Helias, who has played with such visionary musicians as Dewey Redman and Gerry Hemingway, leads his own combos of varying sizes and is also a record producer. Dresser too, has a long association with Hemingway and has been an important part of bands lead by Anthony Braxton among others.
Composers as well as players, the CD is divided between five Dresser and four Helias lines.
Equally matched in academic training and practical experience, the two bassmen have created tunes that can revolve in any one of four different combinations, depending on who's playing arco or pizzicato. Thus you'll get "Transwarmo", Dresser's moody, melancholy piece for bowed strings followed by Helias' airy double pizz workout, "The Comb Over". Quasi classical facility can be heard on Helias' "Chico", while a combination of bowed and plucked techniques allow the steady rhythm of Dresser's "Modern Pine" to swing as easily as if both were slapping the bass.
No mere conceit for bass zealots, THE MARKS BROTHERS may convert many to the face of the bass, even if they formerly thought that the instrument should be seen and not heard.
— Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. Zeppo 2. Short 3. Digestivo 4. Transwarmo 5. The Comb Over 6. Chico 7. Pentahouve 8. Un Chien Andalou 9. Modern Pine
Personnel: Mark Dresser (bass); Mark Helias (bass)