Michael Dessen, trombonist-improviser-composer-bandleader. California based. Basic facts. His newest album Forget the Pixel (Clean Feed 222) brings his trombone, straight horn and electronically enhanced, into orbit with two excellent players: bassist Christopher Tordini, with a bold sound, a smart manipulation of composed motifs, a fluid ensemble presence and a soloist of Zen-like space arrangements. Then there's Dan Weiss, to my mind one of the luminous young drummers on the scene today. He doesn't glow in the dark, but his sense of the rhythmic and color possibilities of the drum set spur on the session.
Michael Dessen writes compositions that go way beyond the cliches and flavor phrases of the month. They are subtle and original and his trombone playing follows that same path.
This album is a sleeper. You must listen to it or you wont get it. That is not as obvious as it sounds. There are albums that enter your ears whether you will it or not. Forget the Pixel works with willed listening." If you are passive about it, you'll miss it.
And for all that this is well worth the effort. It is different enough that one might put it to one side as an example of how the freebased contemporary scene is not a regurgitation of what went before. It is the further development of the music. It is a matter of new personal approaches, when it's right. This one is right.