Mark Dresser

November 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Tell us a little about how you came to play at the Cafe. Have you appeared here before? What’s your impression of the space from a performer’s standpoint?

I’ve played at the Cafe many times over the years. The space, like many renown basement venues, is a good listening room and has a good sound.

How did you end up with the folks you’ll be playing alongside this weekend? What sorts of characteristics do you look for in your collaborators and bandmates?

I’ve known all these fine musicians for many years in various capacities. Denman and I’ve been playing and recording together since the late 80’s. Rudresh and I have the cooperative group together, the trio Mauger. Tom Rainey and I have also played together for years, and Michael Dessen, who lives in Southern California–we’ve working together this past three years especially  telematic music.  I look  for musicians who have their own sound, inventive, and with whom I have musical and personal chemistry.  Rudresh, Denman, Michael, and Tom fit the bill.

The Times quote in your blurb on the website drops the ‘M’ word–Mainstream–and frames you squarely in opposition to it. Are you cognizant at all of where you music falls (or gets placed) in terms of genre or lineage? Do you think there’s a use to categorizing performers as “avant-garde” or “new jazz”, or is that just grist for the critics to hash out?

I didn’t interpret the Times quote as you did, nor see my career in opposition to anything.  It is true, I’ve made my career outside of the jazz mainstream, but I deeply connect to the broadest view of  the jazz tradition and have worked in this milieu since 1980. I feel connected to the world of musicians, genre aside.  I relate to Duke Ellington’s disdain for categorization. It does little to illucidate what is happening in the music and one’s level of involvement.

Whatever the critical appellation, you’ve made no small habit of of innovation (I’ve got to say, ‘SLM- Telematic Contrabass Ensemble’ has both a concept and a title I will not quickly forget). Where are you headed next, whether in terms of composition, performance, or locale?

Telematic Music is about playing with musicians in other geographical locations on high speed high bandwidth music, live. On December 3rd I’m participating in a concert at the United Nations with an ensemble based in NY performing live with ensembles in Bejing and Seoul. (To attend the free event go to: To hear a live webcast on Friday, Dec 3 at 9pm go to

I got into this area as a result of living in San Diego and not being close to my natural collaborators, who up to 2004 were all in New York.  It’s been fascinating to learn a whole new skill set which requires artistic, technical and administrative teamwork. What is rewarding is that now I am able to easily rehearse and develop new music at distance.  My hope is to see this field develop into viable professional venue for musicians.

Mark Dresser appears tonight at 830pm at the Cornelia Street Cafe. or 212/989-9319 for reservations.


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