Russ Lossing/Mat Maneri/Mark Dresser – Metal Rat (CF 064)
Some brilliant musical ideas are instantaneously absorbed into jazz’s bloodstream—Miles Davis’s modalism, for example—but others take time. It’s hard to believe that a decade has gone by since impressionistic piano maverick Matthew Shipp debuted his drummerless “string” trio consisting of piano, violin and bass—especially because the mainstream has taken little notice of the dots Shipp connected between jazz-based improvisation and classically expanded harmonies. The magnitude of Shipp’s achievement becomes evident when listening to piano polymath Russ Lossing’s Metal Rat, a disc that explores the concept with assistance from secret weapon Mat Maneri, Shipp’s original violinist.
Maneri’s spatially seductive use of atonality has grown in the meantime, but that’s not the only reason Metal Rat is more now than then. The disc was culled from one astonishingly brief, four-hour recording session, and only one track, “Turn,” reaches beyond six minutes. The sense of urgency seems to heighten each member’s sensitivity to one another. Bassist Mark Dresser is in a class by himself as both improviser and accompanist: It’s instructive to hear him slap counterrhythms on the trio-rrific “Ch’ien” before shadowing Maneri’s lyrical bowing on “Damp(ness),” and becoming the focal point on “Hidden Lines,” a duet miniature with Lossing. If nothing else, the pianist’s warm-blooded avant-gardism should put the mainstream on notice.