Mark Dresser Biography

26 September 1952, Los Angeles, California, USA. Dresser started on bass at the age of 10, played in rock groups in his early teens then studied music at Indiana University for one year, leaving because ‘it was too straight for me, like a music factory’. Moving to San Diego, he studied with classical maestro Bertram Turetzky and also played at weekly jam sessions in LA, led by Bobby Bradford - other participants were Stanley Crouch, David Murray and James Newton. Unable to make a living playing new jazz, Dresser moved to the east coast, settling in New Haven, Connecticut, where Leo Smith, Pheeroan Ak Laff, Gerry Hemingway, Anthony Davis and Jay Hoggard were among his neighbours. Although he played occasional concerts in New York, often with trombonist Ray Anderson, when Dresser followed many of his New Haven colleagues and went to live in the city, he found work increasingly scarce and, disheartened, returned to California. He resumed his LA connection with Bradford and Newton, formed a trio that included Diamanda Galas (then a jazz pianist), and in 1980 toured Europe as part of the Ray Anderson Quartet (Harrisburg Half Life).

With work still hard to find, Dresser went back to college to study music, meanwhile playing with Charles McPherson, recording with Bradford (Lost In LA) and Newton (Binu), and releasing his own solo cassette, Bass Excursions, in 1983. Later that year he moved to Italy to study, staying for two years, and in 1985 joined the Anthony Braxton Quartet for tours of Europe and the UK. Back in the USA, he again moved to New York and has now made his mark on the city’s contemporary jazz scene. Dresser remained a member of Braxton’s quartet and plays regularly too with Anderson, Tim Berne, the string trio Arcado, which he formed with Hank Roberts and violinist Mark Feldman, and the quartet Tambastics (with Robert Dick, Hemingway and Denman Maroney). He has also recorded with Mark Helias (as the Marks Brothers) and Roswell Rudd (as Airwalkers), in addition to appearing on albums by John Zorn (Spy Vs Spy) and Marilyn Crispell (The Kitchen Concert). A composer too, his orchestra piece Castles For Carter (dedicated to John Carter) was premiered at Amsterdam’s October Meeting in 1991.

Dresser’s more recent work has become deeper and emotionally wandering, in particular his excellent composition ‘Bosnia’, featured on 1995’s Force Green.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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