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Mark Dresser

Born: 1952    Primary Instrument: Bass, acoustic

Mark Dresser


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....
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”Mark Dresser is an inventor. He also may be the most important bassist to emerge since 1980 in jazz or classical music.”

Harvey Pekar, Boston Herald, February 1, 1998

“Mr. Dresser, a bassist who is one of the great instrumental forces in recent American jazz outside of the mainstream...”

New York Times, February 25, 2000

“Dresser's Music distinguishes itself, as was also heard in his solo work, “Invocation” by ingenuity and originality in the sound production, in addition, by fascinating sound atmospheres.”

Basler Zeitung - February 20, 2000

“He has proven to be one of the master bassists of modern jazz, perhaps even the most exciting....his improvisational fecundity was remarkable for its veritable ensemble-in-miniature, in which every orchestral maneuver can be deployed to advantage... Dresser's rhythmic mooring, melodic liquidity, and timbral hues showed how sanguinely he absorbs and adapts available contexts, emotionally and generically. The almost palpable physicality of his pizzicato slaps and pedal plunging, the luxuriant tremolos of his arco passages and refrains, were as identifiable as the calling cues we associate with elder bass paragons.”

San Diego Reader

”Mark Dresser is a bassist and composer of the highest order. On this recording of his “notated” chamber music, he presents two challenging works that are artistically interpreted. His creativity and sonic sensibilities need to be heard. This project, the assemblage of musicians, and this label make an important statement about the creative process... The performance is intriguing, engaging and profound. “

Bass World , The Journal of the International Society of Bassists 1998 review of Banquet CD-Tzadik

”To an experienced reviewer, it doesn't happen too often that the music makes you speechless. It might be due to the genre of the silent movie that its music is hard to verbalize; maybe the film itself can possibly describe this wonderful music. Mark Dresser not only pays homage to a great German movie and its expressionist director, Robert Wiene, but also makes a statement about Neo-Nationalism and the current ethnic cleansing all over the world...This is the masterpiece of a masterful musician...”

JazzThetik on Mark Dresser's “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” * * * * *

“You've got to pity Dresser's poor bass-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. In Dresser's slanted compositions, the jazz tradition is only so much grist for the mill.”

The New Yorker, August 18, 1997

“Mark Dresser awed the assembly with his compositions for solo bass-no one expected to be nailed to the floor by one guy with a four-string.”

Los Angeles Times

“Mr. Dresser, who constantly drove the group forward with his full, wide-bodied sound, would solo, hammering strings with both hands, creating the sound of several basses playing at once.”

N.Y. Times

“In terms of the soloist/accompaniment dichotomy, Dresser explodes the notion of the bass as both single instrument and back-up instrument. His arco work takes on a progressively seamless singing quality while occasional overdubs allow pizzicato dancing around the bowed slipstream. Thus glissandi and pitch shifts are pocked and plunked and shoved in a sometimes delirious display of talent. But even when it's Dresser alone, sans overdubs, he's a feverish, fast-moving string group unto himself...I count this among the best anti-virtuosic solo recordings to date. Anti-virtuosic playing is, of course, historically a function of interrogating the inherited history of technique and beauty, and here Dresser presents an alarmingly tense and exciting technique and a sense of beauty as something not simply or clearly or calmly related but rather something for which all involved must work.”

Andrew Bartlett - 5/4 Magazine (Review of INVOCATION on Knitting Factory Works)

“Dresser has a heroic sound and his double-, triple-, and quadruple-stopped glisses are stunning. ...he should sustain his position as one of the few virtuosos of so-called avant-garde jazz.”

Village Voice

about the premier of “The Banquet” September '95

“Mark Dresser who is able to jump over the highest stylistic walls in a single bound wrote a concerto that shows where this journey between contemporary classical music and jazz can go. Dresser wrote a piece of music that fits like a glove to the astonishing soloist, Matthias Ziegler. This piece has many element which you can't find anymore in “serious” music like drama, entertainment, rhythmic playfulness, variety of sound, and room for individual improvisational development.”

Neue Zurcher Zeitung

“Mark Dresser's Promethean bass-playing powers one of the heaviest bands on the scene...Dresser consistently astonishes with his range of ideas and effects, not to mention his towering beat.”

Wire Magazine

“Mr. Dresser, a bassist of dexterity and power, isn't content with dryly cerebral experimentation or some anachronistic idea of euphoria through tumult. He wants it all: timbral experimentation, pulsating rhythm, strong melodies, imaginative strategies for composing. ...his well-rehearsed group, swinging four-way cohesion was always the issue.”

New York Times, May 30, 1997

“Mark Dresser first came to national attention in 1985 as the bass player for Anthony Braxton's now legendary quartet. The band broke up in 1994 but Dresser continues to further the vocabulary of the acoustic bass through his eccentric and radical advancements in technique.”

Jazziz - The 150 Most Influential Artists who Moved Jazz's Changes Since 1983. September, 1998

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