Michael Dessen Trio

I’ve been composing for my electro-acoustic trio since 2005, most often with Christopher Tordini on bass and Dan Weiss on drums. I’ve released 4 trio albums on Clean Feed Records, and have been supported by Chamber Music America’s New Jazz Works grant, a Fromm Foundation composition award, and a New Music USA project award. My trio music is designed for immersive, interactive performances, and combine compositional intricacy with radically open forms of improvisation to feature the creative contributions of each player. The music is inspired by a wide range of sources including poetry, visual art, and current events, and my most recent recording, Somewhere In The Upstream (2018), is a concert-length work dedicated to Yusef Lateef that takes the form of a “scorestream” in which notations are displayed on screens for the improvisers to interpret, shifting unpredictably for each performance.


“Dessen’s music is so fresh and innovative that there are few precedents with which to compare it…. The enthusiastic audience erupted with supportive whistles, shouts and sustained applause. A stunning example of creative, adventurous music, utterly devoid of cliché, stretching even the frontiers of free jazz beyond recognition. ”
All About Jazz, Robert Bush

“These guys don’t just play together—they’re playing. This playfulness, as much as their fluid negotiations of Dessen’s jagged rhythms and elaborate melodies, is the spoonful of sugar that make these rigorous improvisations go down easy.”
Downbeat, Bill Meyer

“A remarkable achievement. If the timbral possibilities of a trombone-bass-drum band might seem limited, Dessen varies things with electronics and the trio maintains constant interest through a multi-leveled interaction of compositional methodologies, collective improvisation and polyrhythmic exploration. It’s fascinating work by an exceptional group of musicians, at times combining the cheery openness of song with a sense of underlying tectonic mystery.”
New York City Jazz Record, Stuart Broomer

Albums by the MD Trio