Michael Dessen is a composer and trombonist who creates music for improvisers, often exploring the artistic potentials of live electronics, telepresence and digital networking. His electro-acoustic trio, which has released three albums on Clean Feed Records, combines intricately composed materials with highly open improvisation and live sampling/processing. Dessen also works with “scorestreams,” compositions that are displayed dynamically on screens for improvisers to interpret, and as an improviser he collaborates with many diverse bands in addition to performing solo on digibone, an animistic world of trombone and live electronics.
Since 2007, Dessen has been active in many telematic concerts that feature performers in distant locations linked via high-definition networking technologies. He has composed new works specifically for the telematic stage, and has collaborated on many large-scale telematic projects, including Virtual Tour 2013, a three-concert series co-directed by Dessen and Mark Dresser that paired a quartet in California with ensembles in Zurich, New York and Massachusetts.
Dessen’s music has been praised by critics in numerous jazz and contemporary music publications, and supported by commissions from organizations including Chamber Music America and the Fromm Foundation. He has also published writings on music, focusing especially on the role of African American traditions within late-twentieth century experimental music worlds. Since 2006, he has been a Music faculty member in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the University of California, Irvine, where he co-founded a new PhD program in Integrated Composition, Improvisation and Technology (ICIT). Dessen’s teachers include Yusef Lateef, George Lewis, and Anthony Davis, and he is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music (BM), the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (MM), and the University of California, San Diego (PhD).