Bassist Michael Bisio: Steeped in the Tradition of Moving Forward

When did you first know you were an artist?
In that moment.

Favorite medium(s) you use to make art…

What are the most interesting new trends in your field? Is your work changing as a result?
“New trends” is a difficult phase for me. My art is steeped in tradition and to quote the great tenorist Rich Halley, “The tradition is to move the tradition forward.”

Yes, my work is always evolving, yet the tradition remains.

Talk about your creative process – where/when do you get most of your ideas and how do you know a piece is ‘finished’?
I strive to be as direct as possible, no filter, no editing in the moment. My art is in time not space. Recording of course changes that, so I must admit that once recorded, that version of that piece is finished, yet it is still evolving in the universe.

Do you also teach or are you strictly a creative artist? Who was your most influential mentor and why? How do you see the role of being a mentor, and why?
I am Instructor of Bass at Bennington College in Vermont and I do believe it to be a creative process. Although my artistic life is more than 90% performer/composer, teaching depends on that same flow, between myself other artists, audience and/or student. Each is an integral part of the process.

I am fortunate to have many great artists I have considered mentors but will go with the first who popped to mind when I read your question: Carter Jefferson. I will leave it to the reader to discover his greatness. CJ used to say to me (about 30 years ago), “Beez, you are a bad MF but you need to stand in front of a mirror six hours a day and say ‘I am a bad MF, I am a bad MF, I am a bad MF, I am a bad MF, I am a bad MF, I am a bad MF, I am a bad MF, I am a bad MF …’.”

The role of a mentor is to be inspirational, bridging the historical, artistic and life gaps that occur. It is an honor, a duty and frightening as we move farther from the source.

What are you working on now?
Looking forward to my residency at The Atlantic Center for the Arts (ACA). Most of my thought is geared towards combining serial ideas with improvisation in as human a way as is manageable or at least manageable to me. During my time at ACA, I will have the privilege of working with nine associate artists daily and in a very intense manner (which is) an extremely rare opportunity in this day and age. I will take full advantage; my own preparation is essential.

How has being in Kingston enhanced/inspired your work? What do you like best about living in Kingston/being involved with MAD? How long have you been here? 

Kingston has proven to be the ultimate inspiration for me. Best first: I met, courted and married Dawn Wan (now Dawn Bisio)! This all happened within my first year of taking up residence at The Lace Mill. Living at The Lace Mill has given me a beautiful place to live in a vibrant community that is both interested and interesting. MAD has proven to be an indispensable ally—welcoming, supportive, and populated with incredible talent!

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The Lace Mill Presents Series
Sunday, October 8, 2017
Anais Maviel/Nancy Ostrovsky/me
The Lace Mill, East Gallery

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A Few Selected Dates 

Saturday, August 26,2017
Joe Giardullo 4tet
The Rosendale Cafe (also part of the arts series on Spectrum)

Sunday, September 17, 2017
Hui Cox Quartet
Hyde Museum, Glens Falls, NY

October 15 – November 3, 2017
I have been invited to be Master Artist in Residence at The Atlantic Center for the Arts (FL)

In November, the Matthew Shipp Trio will go to Argentina to play the Buenos Aires and Cordoba Jazz Festivals

In December, Matthew Shipp Trio will tour the west coast starting in Seattle and ending at the San Francisco Jazz Festival.

Saturday, January 27, 2018
Matthew Shipp Trio will play Carnegie Hall (first set trio, second with Roscoe Mitchell)

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Listening Samples

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“His playing appears to be produced by sorcery.”
— Frank Rubolino, Cadence Magazine

“As fully a part of this trio {Matthew ShippTrio} as Ray Brown was with Oscar Peterson’s or Israel Crosby with Ahmad Jamal’s, Bisio confirms his skill at timbral integration throughout The Conduct of Jazz. At the same time, Accortet demonstrates that his leadership talents as composer, arranger and player are as finely honed, even with unusual instrumentation.” 
— Ken Waxman

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Michael Bisio Contact Info
917 968 0579