Mark Dresser

Mark Dresser

Eye’ll Be Seeing You

Knitting Factory

I like this in the first place, because Eye’ll Be Seeing You is an experiment that could have easily failed. Bassist/composer Mark Dresser and pianist Anthony Coleman decide to bring back the dead tradition of live orchestrated music accompanying films, and true to form, choose two surrealist silent films. Then they release the recordings of their scores, carefully structured and including intermission and exit music penned by Dresser! Oh, the Titanic soundtrack this is not! However, even stripped of the context of the films, this Dresser/Coleman partnership survives very well.

Dresser composed the music for the first film, Un Chien Andalou , originally made by Louis Bunuel and Salvador Dali, in five parts. Coleman then orchestrated six pieces to accompany A Propos de Nice , a powerful bit of social(ist) commentary by Jean Vigo. The music is performed in a trio format with Dresser on bass, Coleman on piano/organ, and Chris Speed on clarinet and tenor sax. Sometimes it sounds like an orchestra tuning up, sometimes you’ll swear you’ve heard bits of this before. The moods constantly shift and shatter, I’m guessing this is part because of the surreal nature of the films and partly because of the obvious wealth of ideas and emotions that Dresser and Coleman want to put across.

The overall tone of the record that I got is one of the music swooning and lurching about, either like a drunken sailor or a particularly maddened artist. Which makes for quite good (unpredictable) listening. The use of intermission is particularly clever, just to give a clearer delineation between the skills of Coleman and our man Dresser. Dresser’s score seemed more disorienting and claustrophobic. There was a strong sense of dread throughout, while Coleman’s work, obviously less bottom heavy, concentrated more on a building of tension and scattered wits throughout. I truly don’t know much about jazz, but I do know that I like music made by artists who answer to no one but their own sense of aesthetics. Eye’ll Be Seeing You easily falls within that category.

Knitting Factory Works, 74 Leonard St., New York, NY 10013

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