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Mark Dresser (b. 1952) has been composing and performing solo contrabass and ensemble music professionally since 1972 throughout North America, Europe and the Far East. Emerging from the L.A. "free" jazz scene of the early 70's, Dresser performed with the "Black Music Infinity", led by Stanley Crouch, and included Bobby Bradford, Arthur Blythe, David Murray, and James Newton. Concurrently he was performing with the San Diego Symphony.
After completing B.A. and M.A. degrees at UCSD where he studied with contrabass virtuoso Bertram Turetzky and a 1983 Fulbright Fellowship in Italy with maestro Franco Petracchi, Dresser relocated to New York in 1986 after being invited to join the quartet of composer/saxophonist, Anthony Braxton. Dresser played with Braxton's longest performing quartet for nine years.
Once in NY, Dresser began working with a wide variety of musicians in the greater New York community including Ray Anderson, Tim Berne, Jane Ira Bloom, Anthony Davis, Fred Frith, Dave Douglas, John Zorn, and others. He focused on composing for a pair of cooperative groups, Tambastics with flutist Robert Dick, percussionist Gerry Hemingway, and pianist Denman Maroney and the string trio, ARCADO, with violinist Mark Feldman and cellist Hank Roberts. Numerous European tours, awards, six CD's, and several commissions resulted, including "For Not the Law," a composition for ARCADO and orchestra from WDR Radio of Cologne Germany, "Armadillo" for ARCADO and the WDR Big Band, and "Bosnia," a work written for the Trio du Clarinettes of France and ARCADO.
His current collaborative projects include the trio, C/D/E, master drummer Andrew Cyrille and with multi-reed player virtuoso, Marty Ehrlich, a duo, trio and quartet with hyperpianist, Denman Maroney, the Marks Brothers with fellow bassist Mark Helias, a duo with the cello virtuoso, Frances-Marie Uitti , a duo with the gifted drummer Susie Ibarra, and a duo with celebrated trombonist, Ray Anderson, .
Since 1999, Mark Dresser's trio includes flutist Matthias Ziegler and pianist Denman Maroney. Their electroacoustic performance inspired video artist, Tom Leeser to create two video works, Subtonium and Sonomatopoeia which the trio performs live in performance in addition to Chronicles of an Asthmatic Stripper a solo bass collaboration with animator, Sarah Jane Lapp.
Mark Dresser's Modular Ensemble performs his chamber works. Earlier projects include the mixed quintet, Force Green featuring Dave Douglas on trumpet, Theo Bleckmann on voice, Denman Maroney on hyperpiano, and Phil Haynes on drums for Soul Note. THe Mark Dresser Quartet and two different trios perform his music for silent film. He has composed and recorded original music for two silent film projects; the German expressionist silent film classic, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Knitting Factory) and the French Surrealist collaboration of Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali, Un Chien Andalou. (Knitting Factory) Solo performance is one of Dresser's specialties. He has designed custom made electronics for purposes of amplifying normally inaudible sounds. Invocation (Knitting Factory) is a solo CD documenting compositions from 1983-94. (Knitting Factory) Additional original solo bass music was composed and performed for the New York Shakespeare Festival Production of HENRY VI.
Commissions include, Resomance for Quarter tone flutes and String Quartet written for Matthias Zieger (2004), The Five Outer Planets for amplified contrabass written for the sculptures of Robert Taplin, Remudadero for the saxophone quartet, Rova, "Banquet," a double concerto for various flutes, contrabass and string quartet written for Swiss flute virtuoso Matthias Ziegler.(Tzadik CD-1997), "Air to Mir," commissioned by the McKim Fund in the Library of Congress (Marinade-Tzadik CD-2000.) Also "Althaus" for tuba virtuoso, David LeClair with bass, cello, alto sax, and clarinet is recorded on Marinade, For Not the Law for Arcado String trio and West Deutsch Rundfunk Orchestra.
A chapter on his extended techniques for contrabass, "A Personal Pedogogy," appears in the book, ARCANA (Granary Books). Other articles on this research appear in DOWNBEAT, MUSICIAN MAGAZINE, & JAZZIZ.
He has performed and recorded over one hundred CDs with some of the strongest personalities in contemporary music and jazz including Ray Anderson, Tim Berne, Jane Ira Bloom, Bobby Bradford, Tom Cora, Marilyn Crispell, Anthony Davis, Dave Douglas, Fred Frith, Diamanda Galas, Vinny Golia, Earl Howard, Oliver Lake, George Lewis, Misha Mengelberg, Ikue Mori, James Newton, Evan Parker, Sonny Simmons, Louis Sclavis, Vladimir Tarasov, Henry Threadgill, and John Zorn. He was nominated for a 2003 Grammy for the performance of Osvaldo Golijov's CD, Yiddishbbuk. (EMI). He has given lecture demonstrations at the Julliard School, Princeton, New England Conservatory, National Superior Conservatory of Paris, Conservatory of Amsterdam, UCSD, and many others. He has been on faculty at New School University, Hampshire College, and was a 2004 Lecturer in the Council of Humanities and Department of Music at Princeton University. He is professor of music at UCSD.