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Mark Dresser

Encinitas, CA      

Mark Dresser is an internationally renowned and Grammy nominated bass player, improviser, composer, and interdisciplinary collaborator. At the core of his music is an artistic obsession to expand the sonic and musical possibilities of the double bass through the use of unconventional amplification and extended techniques. Throughout his career, Mark has performed on more than 130 recordings, furthered the research and composition of telematic music performance and mentored several young double bass players as a professor of music at UC San Diego.

Born in Los Angeles in 1952, Mark has been a creative force since he began gaining attention in the early ’70s with Stanley Crouch’s Black Music Infinity, a free jazz ensemble that included Bobby Bradford, Arthur Blythe, James Newton, and David Murray. (At the time, Mark was also performing with the San Diego Symphony.) He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UC San Diego, where he studied contrabass with maestro Bertram Turetzky. Mark moved to New York in 1986 after he was recruited by Anthony Braxton and spent a decade touring and recording extensively with the reed visionary’s celebrated quartet with pianist Marilyn Crispell and drummer Gerry Hemingway. Mark simultaneously became a ubiquitous force on the downtown scene, working widely with masters like Ray Anderson, Tim Berne, Anthony Davis, and John Zorn.

Mark received a Fulbright Fellowship to study in Italy with Maestro Franco Petracchi in 1983. In the years that followed, he was awarded two New York Foundation for the Arts grants, Meet the Composer commissions, and fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, Civitella Ranieri, Bellagio, and Akrai. Most recently, Mark was awarded a Doris Duke Impact Award in 2015 for his contributions to the jazz genre.

Mark’s distinctive sound is documented on more than 130 recordings, including 30 as a bandleader and co-leader. He has performed and recorded with Ray Anderson, Jane Ira Bloom, Tim Berne, Gerry Hemingway, Anthony Davis, Dave Douglas, Satoko Fujii, Osvaldo Golijov, Bob Ostertag, Joe Lovano, Dawn Upshaw,  John Zorn and many others. From 1985 to 1994, he was a member of Anthony Braxton’s Quartet, which recorded nine CDs and was the subject of Graham Locke’s book Forces in Motion (Da Capo).

A prolific composer, Mark has developed many pieces for the Arcado String Trio and Tambastics, as well as the original scores for several classic silent films, including The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Among the pieces he developed on commission include:

  • For Not the Law (for string trio and orchestra) for West Deutsch Rundfunk in 1991
  • Banquet (for multiple flutes, bass and string quartet) for Matthias Ziegler in 1994
  • Air to Mir (for violin and piano) for McKim Fund at the Library of Congress in 1998
  • Althaus (for tuba, clarinet, alto sax, cello, and bass) for David LeClair in 2001
  • Remudadero for Rova by Meet the Composer/Readers Digest Consortium Commission in 2002
  • Resonance (for quarter tone flutes and string quartet) for Matthias Ziegler in 2004
  • The Five Outer Planets (for solo contrabass and sculptures) for Robert Taplin in 2004
  • Rasaman for the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival in 2011
  • Le Vent Dans L’ile for Irina-Kalina Goudeva in 2012

Mark’s solo works include the DVD/CD/booklet triptych GUTS: Bass Explorations, Investigations, and Explanations (2010) and CDs UNVEIL (2006) and Invocation (1994). Since 2007, he has been researching, performing, composing, and teaching telematic music performance, which explores the musical, technical, and social dimensions of live performance between multiple locations through high speed Internet. He was a co-coordinator, composer, performer, and conductor of Deep Tones for Peace, a 2009 Internet performance that featured 13 bassists collaborating live from locations between Jerusalem and New York City. Mark also contributed to ResoNations (2009), a five-site international telematic performance for peace and The Virtual Tour: A Reduced-Carbon Footprint Concert Series (PfMentum.). On the latter, Mark and his University of California colleagues Michael Dessen (trombone), Myra Melford (piano) and Nicole Mitchell (flute) collaborated with renowned musicians in cities across America and in Europe to create unified telematic performances.

Dresser continues to compose, record, and tour as a solo performer and with the Mark Dresser Trio, Trio M, the Mark Dresser Quintet, Jones Jones, and the Mark Dresser Seven. His latest release is Sedimental You, an album featuring his newest ensemble the Mark Dresser Seven that comprises of seven original compositions written by Mark. In addition to his recording and performance work, Mark is on the board of the International Society of Bassists, the International Society of Improvised Music, and the advisory board of the Deep Listening Institute. He has been a lecturer at Princeton University and a faculty member at the New School University and at Hampshire College. In 2004, Mark joined the music faculty at UC San Diego, where he continues to mentor aspiring double bass players.

Sedimental You – Album Trailer

Sedimental You was recorded by the Mark Dresser Seven and released in November 2016 on Clean Feed Records. The album comprises of seven original compositions written by Dresser. The ensemble features Dresser (contrabass), Nicole Mitchell (soprano, flutes), Marty Ehrlich (clarinets), David Boroff (violin), Michael Dessen (trombone), Joshua White (piano) and Jim Black (drums/percussion).

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“Newtown Char”

“Newtown Char” is one of seven new compositions featured on the Mark Dresser Seven’s 2016 album Sedimental You.

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“TrumpinPutinStoopin” is one of seven new compositions featured on the Mark Dresser Seven’s 2016 album Sedimental You.

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