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Philadelphia pianist and composer, Mark Kramer has played with such masterful musicians as Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker, Charles Fambrough, Stanley Clarke, Eddie Gomez and Eric Gravatt in addition to heading his own trios.
Born in Philadelphia, Mark began playing classical violin when he
was five. Always an adventurous improviser, Kramer gravitated
towards jazz, teaching himself saxophone, bass and drums before
settling on piano. As a teenager and while in his twenties he played
with such masterful musicians as Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker,
Charles Fambrough, Stanley Clarke and Eric Gravatt in addition to
heading his own trios. Kramer also became involved in some
unusual projects including recording the largest known body of jazz
renditions of complete Broadway shows (eight scores including
Evita* [see footnote by Kurt Siegel], The Sound Of Music, Rent and
Sophisticated Ladies). He reharmonized an entire Mozart symphony
and recorded it with his trio. He also recorded jazz interpretations of
the main themes from John Williams score for Harry Potter and the
Sorcerer’s Stone. In addition, Kramer transformed the music of the
Rolling Stones into creative jazz on Stone Jazz.
Starting in the late 1980s and regularly since 2001-2, Mark Kramer concertized and recorded intuitive and very creative duets with Eddie Gomez. Troubled Times is their 7th and most inventive CD yet. Also planned for media circulation is his 2009 release of a mainstream, recording of “Jazz Standards” - KIND of TRIO. This is a stunning piano centered live recording of Mark’s trio, featuring Eddie and Joe Chambers. It documents Kramer as a brilliant mainstream jazz piano virtuoso, and as a leader.
Overall he has led or co-led over 20 titles distributed worldwide. Most hv not had formal media campaigns. For 2010 and beyond, his early CD productions , those whose licensing has expired, will be incrementally re-release, and distributed to media for review. Among these are a duo set of his Evaneque originals entitled TROUBLED TIMES, as well as further projects with Eddie Gomez. He continues to tour and record with Eddie, and most recently with the addition of Joe La Barbara throughout Italy.
Importantly, Mark has abandoned his past decade+ of efforts to recruit new audiences into the jazz world through novelty recordings. These have all invoked what has been called an authentic Evanesque approach. His methodical, now completed 10 year experiment in specialty jazz did gain some traction at major labels, but most certainly separated him to some extent from the mainstream jazz community. This was a heavy price to pay for a brilliant pianist, who remains an unsung creative “great” among jazz pianists.
Over the past two years (2008-2010*) Mark invented and implemented a remarkable proprietary composing and orchestration system: potentially groundbreaking as an artistic production model. He has privately revealed an astonishing demo of a series of works entirely produced as he says “on his own terms, partnered with the grace of an omnipresent source.”, He seems entirely intent on this, and appears to be unconcerned about 1) its commercial value, 2) deviations from mainstream jazz, 3) acquiring critical acclaim, 3) pandering to jazz greats for credibility, or 4) audience acceptance of it in his lifetime.
Notwithstanding, his contributions already to the field are considerable. His piano playing on all vehicle he has chosen moves the modern mainstream of jazz forward, combining together his early influences and his formidable technique with fresh ideas that form his own individual voice. He is a piano giant who is finally being discovered.
--Scott Yanow, jazz writer