About

Michael Dessen is a musician and educator based in southern California. His work includes composing for his own ensembles, collaborating with diverse artists as a trombonist/improviser, exploring emerging technologies such as telematic performance and dynamic scores, publishing scholarly research and writing, and helping build spaces for cultural innovation and exchange as a university professor and administrator.

As a composer-bandleader, Dessen’s compositions often blend abstract, immersive soundworlds with lyricism and groove, and have integrated technologies such as live sampling/processing and dynamic, algorithmic “scorestreams.” His releases as a leader include four critically-acclaimed albums on Clean Feed Records, and his music has been recognized with awards from Chamber Music America, New Music USA and the Fromm Foundation. He has also worked extensively since 2007 in telematic music, composing and performing on dozens of networked concerts with international collaborators, and co-directing many projects that have enabled diverse composers to experiment with this emerging medium.

As a trombonist, Dessen’s original sound and broad skills have made him a valued sideperson and collaborator for many renowned musicians. He has performed with a wide range of artists including Mark Dresser, Nicole Mitchell, Myra Melford, Anthony Davis, Geri Allen, George E. Lewis, Joshua White, Marty Ehrlich, Lisa Mezzacappa, Dan Weiss, Christopher Tordini, Fay Victor, Kei Akagi, Yoon-Jeong Heo, Bae Il Dong, Stephanie Richards, Wilfrido Terrazas, Jason Robinson, Nathan Hubbard, Scott Walton and Ivan Trujillo, among many others. He also performs solo on trombone+computer, and his solo electro-acoustic album Digibone Forest was released by indie label Accretions.

Dessen has published writings on networked music, the Asian American creative music movement and intercultural African diasporic collaboration, as well as a Preface to Yusef Lateef’s Songbook. He is a Professor at the University of California, Irvine, where he co-founded a PhD program in Integrated Composition, Improvisation and Technology (ICIT), and currently serves as Chair of the Music Department, Director of the Gassmann Electronic Music Studios and Jazz Program Coordinator. He is also a co-founder of Puentes Telemáticos / Telematic Bridges, a program that connects high school students in Santa Ana, California with peers in Colombia to explore the pedagogical and intercultural potentials of musical telepresence.

Michael Dessen grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and his music training includes diverse freelance experiences, graduate studies with Yusef Lateef, George E. Lewis, and Anthony Davis, and degrees from UC San Diego (PhD), UMass Amherst (MM) and the Eastman School of Music (BM). He lives in southern California with his longtime partner, artist Mariángeles Soto-Díaz.