Kent Kessler

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Technically astute avant-garde jazz bassist who has led or co-led nearly two dozen dates and played on more than a hundred others.
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Latitude 41.88
The prolific and in-demand jazz bassist Kent Kessler may be best known for his role in numerous Chicago bands, usually associated with reedman Ken Vandermark, but he has led or co-led nearly two dozen recordings on labels from Okka Disc and Atavistic to Not Two, Palomar, and Trost. He has played on more than a hundred others. He first began appearing on recordings in the early '90s as a member of Hal Russell's NRG Ensemble. The band continued after Russell's death in 1992 with the addition of Vandermark. Kessler and Vandermark went on to play together in a number of bands that revitalized Chicago's jazz scene, putting the city back on the avant-garde and free jazz map. The Vandermark 5, DKV Trio (which took a ten-year break between 2002 and 2012), and Steelwool Trio are just some of the many groups that feature Kessler's wide and gritty sound. He has performed and recorded with a number of leading European improvisers, such as German powerhouse Peter Brötzmann (in his Chicago Tentet), Swedish avant-garde saxophonist Mats Gustafsson (in FJF), the late Dutch pianist Misha Mengelberg, and Dutch avant-garde saxophonist Luc Houtkamp. Kessler has also worked with legends who are closer to home, including Joe McPhee and the late Fred Anderson. Through his many projects, Kessler has toured all over North America, Asia, and Europe. In 2017 alone, his recording projects included DKV's Latitude 41.88, Thinking Out Loud by Boneshaker with saxophonist Mars Williams and drummer/percussionist Paal Nilssen-Love, and An Ayler Xmas with Williams. He and DKV finished 2017 by playing some holiday concerts in Chicago with Joe McPhee. The Corbett vs. Dempsey label reissued Flats Fixed (with Fred Lonberg-Holm and the late Peter Kowald) in 2018.