Upcoming Ars Nova Workshop Shows

Mark Dresser
Cover of Mark Dresser

From Philadelphia’s Ars Nova Workshop:

Wednesday, September 14, 8pm
Jen Shyu, voice
Mark Dresser, bass

Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th Street
$10 General Admission

“Calling contrabassist Mark Dresser a virtuoso is like saying Albert Einstein was good at math,” wrote Robert Bush for The San Diego City Times. He was spot on. Whether working in ensembles led by Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Tim Berne and John Zorn, leading groups for recordings on Tzadik and Clean Feed, or improvising alone, Dresser has been relentlessly articulating an incomparable musical language for nearly 40 years. For the Downtown bassist’s latest project, Synastry (Pi Recordings, 2011), Dresser joins forces with multi-instrumentalist, dancer, and vocalist Jen Shyu to investigate new improvisatory zones for voice and bass.

Shyu’s been studying and performing music since her pre-teens – she came in sixth place at the Stravinsky International Piano Competition at 11-years-old — and cut her teeth on the jazz scene working in Steve Coleman’s Five Elements. Shyu’s polylingual vocal style – she sings in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Mandarin, Taiwanese, Tetum, and Pinuyumayan – adds a robust cosmopolitan spirit to her improvising: she’s truly a vocalist for a hyper-connected, multi-cultural age. “Together,” Shyu says of her work with Dresser, “we really push the possibilities of each of our instruments, exposing their full range in texture and musical function in a way that we feel is unique in the lineage of voice and bass duos.”



Friday, September 16, 8pm
Angelica Sanchez, piano
Tony Malaby, saxophone
Marc Ducret, guitar
Drew Gress, bass
Tom Rainey, drums

Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th Street
$15 General Admission

“Some kinds of music are best listened to alone and without distractions,” wrote Carla Bley in the liner notes to a little house (Cleen Feed; 2010) by pianist Angelica Sanchez. “Every piece is like a story told to you privately.” From gorgeous, voluptuous piano swells to vast, haunting silences, Sanchez created her own elegant world of sound on her debut solo recording. Though she’ll be sharing the stage with four all-star jazz musicians, tonight’s performance will capture that same awe-inspiring beauty, virtuosity, and intimate charm.

Sanchez has been an active player on the New York City jazz scene since the mid-1990s, working in ensembles with Wadada Leo Smith, Paul Motian and Susie Ibarra. She has led trios and quartets with musicians like Michael Formanek and Ted Poor, and in the late-2000s, she formed this quintet with saxophonist Tony Malaby, bassist Drew Gress, French guitarist Marc Ducret, and drummer Tom Rainey, which tonight makes its first Philadelphia appearance since 2007.

Each member of the quintet has a history with saxophonist Tim Berne, and it definitely shows in the group dialogue: mathematical precision, evolving melodies, sharp harmonic exchanges. But, as Nate Chinen wrote for The New York Times, what sets Sanchez apart as a composer is her “more harmonious brand of abstraction.” This is evident on their spectacular debut, Life Between (Cleen Feed; 2008), and you’ll hear it tonight as Sanchez leads this singular quintet through new pieces that will appear on their upcoming sophomore release for Clean Feed.


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