Dana Reason

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Dana Reason
Dana Reason5.jpg
Photo by Norman Korpi.
Background information
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Piano
Years active 1994 - present
Labels Deep Listening, Hi-Bias, 482, Circumvention, Music and Arts, Red Toucan,
Website danareason.com

Dana Reason is a Canadian pianist and composer. She has been featured on National Public Radio (USA), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Radio Canada.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Canada, Reason began lessons on the piano at the age of 3 . Reason continued to compose throughout her primary school years, earning by age 15 an associate degree in performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.[1]

Reason started her secondary studies at Barrie Central Collegiate Institute, where she played the trombone. But, after hearing her play the piano, she was encouraged by a substitute band teacher to apply at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. Reason auditioned and was awarded a scholarship that allowed her to finish secondary school at the academy. It was during this time that she became interested in contemporary music composition, jazz and free jazz.[1]

After graduating from Interlochen at the age of 17, Reason met with pianist Boaz Sharon from the University of Florida. Sharon flew out to Toronto to audition her, and awarded Reason a scholarship to study classical piano at the university.[2] During her time at the university, Reason sent an audition tape to the Juilliard School, and she was invited to start lessons that summer.[3] Reason had wanted to attend Juilliard, but instead obtained a Bachelor of Music at McGill University.[4]

Mills College[edit]

After earning her degree at McGill, Reason attended Mills College in Oakland, CA to study composition. Her main teachers were Pauline Oliveros and Alvin Curran.[4] Studying piano with Julie Steinberg,[5] she also had classes with Christian Wolff, Cecil Taylor, Frederic Rzewski, and Glenn Spearman before completing her Master of Arts in Composition.[6]

University of California, San Diego[edit]

Reason met George E. Lewis in the early 1990s at a festival in Tallahassee that featured his music. Lewis encouraged her to apply to the University of California, San Diego for a Ph.D. While at UCSD, Reason studied both classical and contemporary piano with Alex Karis, as well as improvisation with George E. Lewis, Anthony Davis and Muhal Richard Abrams. In the spring of 1999 Reason organized a two-day symposium on improvisation to complement this research, entitled "Improvising Across Borders." This event included more than a hundred participants, with 24 papers presented in concurrent sessions.


Reason both performed with other musicians and composers during her time at UCSD, including Lisle Ellis, and Philip Gelb.[1] From 1998 until 2003 Reason toured extensively as part of "The Space Between Trio" featuring Pauline Oliveros on the accordion and Philip Gelb on the shakuhachi.[7]

After giving several solo performances, Reason met bassist Dominic Duval and drummer John Heward at Montreal’s Suoni Per Il Popolo Festival in 2004, where they performed as a trio for the first time. Soon after, the trio recorded their first CD, "Revealed (Circumvention)", as the Dana Reason Trio, but the CD was not released at that time.[8] In addition to her performances, she was commissioned by Rova Saxophone Quartet to write a composition entitled Transition in 2003, and to both improvise and interpret a 16-instrument score written by composer Sean Griffin for his project entitled "Snake River", which was presented in the Disney Concert Hall Complex in Los Angeles in the fall of 2006.[9]

Reason is currently the Director of Popular Music at Oregon State University. She has taught there since 2008.


  • Reasoning with Mark Dresser, Mike Gamble, Lori Goldston and Peter Valsamis, 2014
  • Angle of Vision with Glen Moore and Peter Valsamis, 2013
  • Revealed with Dominic Duval and John Heward, 2010
  • The Space Between with Jöelle Léandre, 2003
  • The Space Between with Matthew Sperry, 2003
  • The Space Between with Barre Phillips, 2001
  • Red Sauce Baby (as guest pianist), 2000
  • The Space Between with Jon Raskin, 1999
  • Musicworks 74 (excerpt of The Space Between Trio), 1999
  • Border Crossings, 1997
  • Children in Peril (as guest pianist), 1997
  • Primal Identity, 1996
  • Purple Wind (as guest pianist), 1996
  • Da-Ro Re-Mix-Desire, 1994
  • Hard into the Night- Remix, 1994
  • Ya-Ya Re-Mix Mitsou, 1994
  • Deep Into Your Soul. Remix of Fan.cie, 1994


  • Off the Road: Documentary film by Laurence Petit-Jouvet, France 2001, featuring musical collaborations with German bassist Peter Kowald

List of Major Festivals and Performances[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Given, Dan. Beyond Genre: The Piano Artistry of Dana Reason. [ed.] Gayle Young. MusicWorks. Ontario : s.n., 1999. 74.
  2. ^ Dana Reason. Guelph Jazz Festival program. Guelph : Guelph Jazz Festival, 1998.
  3. ^ Wizard, Jimzeen &. Dana Reason – Pianist/Composer/Improvisor. [Magazine] San Francisco : s.n., October 1998. Outside.
  4. ^ a b Richardson, Derk. Border Crossings Review. Fi Magazine. 1997.
  5. ^ Dana Reason: Primal Identity (Deep Listening). San Francisco Bay Guardian. [Newspaper]. San Francisco, California, USA : s.n., 19 February 1997.
  6. ^ Avant Experiments. The San Francisco Bay Guardian. San Francisco : s.n., 12–18 June 1996.
  7. ^ Furnard, Cliff. Philip Gelb, Between/Waves. The Hollow Ear Review. [Online journal]. 1998.
  8. ^ Productions, DRP. Brief Biography of Dana Reason. Hampton, VA : s.n., 2005.
  9. ^ Muchinic, Suzanne. The art explosion. Los Angeles, California, USA : s.n., 1 October 2006. Los Angeles Times.

Further reading[edit]

  • "Take 5: Revealing and Reverberating: The Un-marketing of a Creative Improvisor." Anthology on Gender and Jazz Studies. Edited by Sherrie Tucker, forthcoming, Duke University Press, 2005.
  • Heble, Ajay, and Daniel Fischlin, ed. The Other Side of Nowhere: Jazz, Improvisation, and Communities in Dialogue (Middletown: Wesleyan U. Press, 2004) "Navigable Structures and Transforming Mirrors" Improvisation and Interactivity by Dana Reason
  • "Interactive Technologies of Improvisation," in The Other Side of Nowhere: Jazz, Improvisation and Cultural Theory. Edited by Ajay Heble and Daniel Fischlin. New York: Wesleyan University Press, Winter 2003.
  • "The Myth of Absence: Representation, Reception and The Music of Experimental Women Improvisors." (Dissertation), University of California, San Diego, 2002. Available at Jazz Studies Online .
  • "Women, Words, and Music." Musicworks (Number 73, Spring 1999), 49-50.
  • "Building Improvising Communities." The Improvisor (September 1999), www.theimprovisor.com
  • "Deep Listening Salad." 20th Century Music. (April 1998), 14.
  • Aruna Handa. "Female Performers in Musique Actuelle." Gasp Magazine (Winter 1990), 13-15.

External links[edit]