Born November 3rd, 1945 "Mark is an unheralded Philly jazz institution: self taught, prodigiously gifted, obscure . . . yet among musicians his reputation could not be heavier; his list of credits as an accompanist and arranger reads like a modern jazz encyclopedia." (Nate Chinen.) Numerous critics have favorably compared Kramer's style to that of Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, and Herbie Hancock, but one which is singularly his own. He is credited with inventing a rich harmonic vocabulary and a distinctive pianistic style, nearly, if not fully, in tandem with the above masters. From age four, Mark was classically trained on violin by members of the Philadelphia Orchestra. In his mid-teens, Kramer shifted entirely to bass, saxophone and piano, and then focused entirely on jazz piano. In the early years, Kramer played piano regularly with Randy and Mike Brecker, Charles Fambrough, Stanley Clarke, Eric Gravatt, Sonny Fortune and many other Philadelphia jazz giants. Arguably, an unwritten portion of jazz history took place at Mark's apartment on Ridge avenue in Philly. There one would find Charles Fambrough, Eric Gravatt, Mike and Randy Brecker, Daryl Brown, Stanley Clarke and so many others assembled for hours/days of non-stop jamming and recording. Mark still plays with and/or produces records with Fambrough, Randy, and Gravatt.
Mark is best known for his work with the Mark Kramer Trio. Originally conceived as an acoustic-electric-fusion group in the late 1970s - featuring Paul Klinefelter on bass, and Mike Dougherty on drums - it would quickly mature into a complex acoustic chamber ensemble. Over the years the trio performed several times weekly at clubs and concert halls, and won numerous awards and commendations (see below).
In the late 80s, Mark Kramer's trio (mainly consisting of Bill Miller, bass and Butch Reed, drums) hosted approximately 50 world class but regional guest artist/soloists (including Junior Cook, Lee Konitz, George Coleman, Steve Turre, Bobby Watson, Al Cohn, Tal Farlow, Archie Shepp, and several dozen more) at Si Ristorantee Jazz in Philadelphia - a perfectly appointed jazz club owned by Gianfranco Cherici. These concerts were generally SRO, most were recorded, and are currently archived. During that time Mark's trio was featured in major print media weekly, and was broadcast on New Year's Eve by Tobias Poole of nationally acclaimed FM radio station WRTI. Subsequently, for 13-14 years Mark Kramer served as the Jazz Director at Ye Olde Temperance House, a club in Bucks County. PA. The Mark Kramer Trio was the house trio playing up to 4-5 nights weekly. His group (featuring over the years mainly bassists William Zinno, Matt Parrish, Gary Mazzaroppi [see Marion McPartland], DeWitt Kay, Fred Weiss, Scott Lee, Mike Richmond, Charles Fambrough/others and drummers Butch Reed, John Mosemann, Glenn Davis, Dave Moan, Joe Chambers/others) accompanied approximately 300 guest artists mostly from Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York. For 2 years Mark and Arnie Lawrence played together there weekly. (Lawrence was the co-founder of the New School of Music Jazz program.) Outside of Philly proper, Ye Olde Temperance House received Philadelphia magazine's coveted Best of Philly Award in 1999.