Mark Dresser

Doris Duke Impact Award, 2015

Encinitas, CA

An essential sideman with experimental pioneers like Ray Anderson, Tim Berne, Bob Ostertag, and Anthony Braxton, Mark Dresser has also long been a leading proponent of solo improvised bass and a master of extended techniques, including harmonics and sound amplification. Nourishments (Clean Feed, 2013) marks his re-emergence as a bandleader, combining mixed meter grooves, improvisation, and swing, while GUTS (Kadima Collective Recordings, 2010) highlights his contrabass playing in both structured improvisation and composition, and features an informational DVD, CD, and educational booklet. He has received multiple grants and fellowships including a Shifting Foundation Grant (2015) and sits on the boards of numerous organizations. A Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego, he continues to research “telematic music,” in which geographically separated musicians performing in real-time via the Internet, and presented a telematic concert at the 2015 Filmatic Festival.

  • Photo Credit: Jim Carmody
  • Mark Dresser- Aperitivo (2010):
    Aperitivo (2010)
  • Photo Credit: Peter Gannushkin
  • Mark Dresser- Nourishments (2011): /126833555
    Nourishments (2011)
  • Photo Credit: Peter Gannushkin
  • Mark Dresser- Ekoneni (2012):
    Ekoneni (2012)
  • Photo Credit: Peter Gannushkin

Suppose you just met someone who didn't know your work. What project from the past 10 years would you direct them to as an entry point to you and your work, and why?

My solo contrabass CD, Unveil (Clean Feed, 2005) gives special attention to a language of extended techniques and its relationship to melody, harmony, and rhythm through structured improvisation and composition. Facilitated by a custom-made pick-up system that amplifies normally inaudible sounds of the bass are featured to create an expressive music that is both unfamiliar yet grounded. I’d recommend listening to the tracks “Clavuus,” “Unveil,” “Kathrom,” “Cabalaba,” “Pluto,” “Lomus,” and “Bacachaonne.” This quest for a personally expressive music that often crosses boundaries of jazz and contemporary concert music inspires my composing for a community of hand picked improviser/interpreters. The sense of community has become even more richly experienced through my involvement with telematic music, in which artists in different geographical locations meaningfully collaborate and perform together live via high speed/high bandwidth network.