Solos and Duos Series: Mark Dresser
September 18, 2014
Fine Arts Center Bezanson Recital Hall
UMass Amherst Campus
Mark Dresser kicks off the Solos and Duos Series with a solo bass recital.
"Mark Dresser is an inventor,” says Harvey Pekar. “He also may be the most important bassist to emerge since 1980 in jazz or classical music."
Called “one of the few virtuosos of so-called avant-garde jazz,” by the Village Voice, Mark Dresser 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 UC, San Diego where he studied with contrabass virtuoso Bertram Turetzky and a 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 New York, Dresser also began working with a wide variety of musicians including Ray Anderson, Tim Berne, Jane Ira Bloom, Anthony Davis, Fred Frith, Dave Douglas, John Zorn, and others. A former professor at Hampshire College, Dresser is currently a professor at UCSD.
A founding member of the Arcado String Trio, Dresser has written and performed original music for the stage (the New York Shakespeare Festival production of Henry VI), and silent films (“Un Chien Andalou” and “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”).
“You’re got to pity Dresser’s poor bass,” wrote The New Yorker, “you wouldn’t treat a dog the way he manhandles his instrument. But the gnarled tones and vicious swing he tortures out of it are worth the abuse.”
At the core of his solo music is an artistic obsession and commitment to expanding the sonic and musical possibilities of the double bass through the use of unconventional amplification and extended techniques. His solo works include the DVD/CD/art booklet, Guts: Bass Explorations, Investigations, and Explanations (2010) and CDs Unveil (2006) and Invocation (1994). A chapter on his extended techniques, “A Personal Pedogogy,” appears in the book, ARCANA (Granary Press). Dresser has written two articles on extended techniques for The Strad magazine: “Double Bass Harmonics” (October 2008) and an “Introduction to Multiphonics” (October 2009). Dresser presented a lecture/demonstration titled “Discover, Develop, Integrate: Techniques Revealed” at the 2009 International Society of Bassists convention, where he curated a New Music Summit featuring lectures, performances, and panel discussions on improvisation and contemporary music performance.
“Mark Dresser has created a fantastic language for the double bass,” writes Bill Shoemaker, “one that rivals any created with machines in its ability to fascinate. Dresser uses his language to pull the listener into, for the lack of a mushless term, another world.”
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