I started my electro-acoustic trio in 2005 to blend intricate composition, highly open improvisation, and computer-based tools, and to create music for virtuoso improvisers including bassist Chris Tordini and drummer Dan Weiss. 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 fourth trio recording, Somewhere In The Upstream, is dedicated to my teacher Yusef Lateef, and takes the form of a scorestream in which notations are displayed on screens for the improvisers to interpret, shifting slightly for each performance.
“In an era where technology erases old truths about our world at a blistering pace, Michael Dessen is a musician for this moment…. Dessen sees technology as a partner to creativity, with the desire for more capabilities pushing new technology, and that technology in turn changing the way people think about what’s possible.”
– Downbeat profile
“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
Listening samples, streaming links and liner notes are on the album pages below.