Mark Dresser, Gerry Hemingway, Rudresh Mahanthappa

Scott Friedlander Photo

CD Released on Clean Feed Records July 23, 2008
CD available from this site
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Review AllAboutJazz : Troy Collins

Review AllAboutJazz : Mark Corroto

Bagatellen : Clifford Allen

Members of the much remembered classic quartet of Anthony Braxton and bandleaders in their own right, Mark Dresser and Gerry Hemingway are the first names we consider when asked to mention the best improvisers on their respective instruments, the double bass and the drum kit. Extraordinarily gifted musicians, innovators of defining and expanding the meaning of contemporary jazz, and being of wholly creative minds, Dresser and Hemingway are always capable of surprising us. On “The Beautiful Enabler” these two veterans of creative music join forces with the younger, but equally notable, saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa. His versatility and virtuosity combined with the depths of his multi-cultural roots (he was born in Italy to South Indian parents, raised in Colorado, educated in Boston and Chicago, now living in New York), justify his fame as a “rising star”. This CD is a fine example of empathy and group interaction, something only possible when the musicians involved are selflessly concerned with the musical results of the ensemble and not their own individual performances. While this is always considered to be the ultimate goal of jazz (which at its core defines itself as a collective music), it is generally not easily accomplished. How many times have great virtuosos been unsuccessful in creating a cohesive message with their musical partners in the ways displayed on this recording?

On this album, overcoming this ostensibly difficult task seems easy and natural, and this fact alone speaks volumes to the approach and outlook of this trio. In his liner notes, Dresser writes about “musical chemistry”, a notion that cannot simply be desired but perhaps can only arise under uniquely extraordinary circumstances. There is no recipe for this sense of gathering as its occurrence transcends skill and creativity and journeys into the realms of fraternity and humanity. It’s no wonder that the artists thought it was necessary to give this group a name of its own: Mauger is more than the combination of these three human beings; it's an entity in itself.

Downbeat review by Bill Shoemaker (posted 11/17/08)

Mauger - The Beautiful Enabler (CF 114)
Rudresh Mahanthappa has a plangent, hardedged alto saxophone sound, one that is made more searing by hard-hitting, knotty themes that have been his stock in trade on his own recordings and those with his most empathetic collaborator, Vijay Iyer. If there is any criticism that could be levelled at the saxophonist’s recordings to date, it is their emphasis on complexity, albeit in the service of an incisive cultural critique. These two recordings (Mahanthappa’s “Kinsmen” review doesn’t appear below) flesh out crucial aspects of Mahanthappa’s sensibility, leaving one with a fuller picture of a musician on a threshold of major artist status.

Bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Gerry Hemingway write demanding pieces, but they also pen tunes conducive to expansive, convivial blowing like the four they include on “The Beautiful Enabler”. With more than thirty years experience playing together in a multitude of settings, they are one of the most telepathic bass-drums tandems active today. But, far from being the odd man out, Mahanthappa plays like he spent years in the shed with them. His “I’ll See You When I Get There” benefits greatly from Dresser’s furious arco and Hemingway’s shadowing phrases and abrupt groundswells, while the plaint of “Intone” is constantly pulled by their undercurrents. Throughout the album, Mahanthappa sounds like he has at least a decade more experience than he actually does, a great measure of the energy and mutual support created on Mauger’s sterling debut.

Video from performance in February 2010 at UCSD in La Jolla, CA (performing "Meddle Music")

Mauger: Meddle Music courtesy of The Snapshots Foundation on Vimeo

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MaugerDigitalBridge1HiRez300dpi [2.9mg, 5x8] Photo Credit: Jordan Hemingway (web site)

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