May 08, 2005
BY JASON SONGE
D'Bass'D reunited Sunday night at the Dragon's Den. The bass-challenged trio stopped playing when drummer Marc DiFlorio left the city, but now he's back. The group of DiFlorio, guitarist Brian Seeger, and saxophonist Rex Gregory played only tunes by Paul Motian. Motian is a 74 year-old drummer who played with Bill Evans and most recently Joshua Redman. He's known for his post-bop and avant-garde stylings, and that's exactly what D'Bass'D gave the fifteen or so audience members.
The music was very intense and intimate. It was beautiful, but there was underlying grief to all of it. As could have been expected, DiFlorio's non-stop exploration of the drumkit was the music's main focus. Unless he was degrading into a pin drop noise oriented debacle of silence, he didn't swing. Instead, his arms were like branches that moved deftly around every drum and cymbal on the kit with confidence and on instinct. The music often didn't have an obvious beat. It was only implied--a phantom to find. Since the songs used a heavy amount of improvisation, it makes sense the members needed to be sharpely connected with each other's minds and intentions.
The slower and faster moments often happened during the same song, normally without a good segway. But, that was kinda cool--to go straight from a dark, almost metal chugging chord progression and beat into bop.
The softer moments produced an ambient atmosphere. It was meditating in darkness. DiFlorio dragged his bow against the edges of his hi-hat cymbals for screeching metal up the spine while Seeger played distorted notes that floated in splotches through the air. DiFlorio also brought out hanging chimes and bells that he dragged across his cymbals for color.
The best moment of the night was when Gregory was blowin' his ass off--just destoying the instrument in a soulful flurry of notes. While he was doing that, Seeger's guitar was off in another psychedelic realm, but DiFlorio managed to find a workable beat from the chaos. That was DiFlorio's talent. He didn't need bass for guidance. He went with it, and it worked.