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Kent Kessler

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Kent Kessler
Kent Kessler, Moers Festival, 2010
Kent Kessler, Moers Festival, 2010
Background information
Born(1957-01-28)January 28, 1957
Crawfordsville, Indiana, U.S.
GenresJazz, avant-garde jazz
Instrument(s)Double bass
LabelsOkka Disk
Kent Kessler in 2007

Kent Kessler (born January 28, 1957) is an American jazz double-bassist.


Although born in Crawfordsville, Indiana,[1] Kessler grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He began playing trombone at age ten. When he was thirteen, he moved with his family to Chicago and a few years later became interested in jazz. While attending St. Mary Center for Learning High School, he took lessons in bass guitar and jazz theory from Kestutis Stanciauskas.[2]

In 1977 he formed Neutrino Orchestra with percussionist Michael Zerang and guitarists Dan Scanlan and Norbert Funk. He spent three months in Brazil during 1980–81 and intermittently attended Roosevelt University in Chicago. He and Michael Zerang also formed a group called Musica Menta, which played routinely at Link's Hall.[2]

Kessler began playing double bass in the 1980s. It became his primary instrument in 1985 when he was asked to join the NRG Ensemble, which toured Europe and recorded for ECM under the leadership of Hal Russell until his death in 1992.[2] In 1991 he worked with Zerang and guitarist Chris DeChiara [de]; in need of a hornist, they called Ken Vandermark, who had been considering leaving Chicago. Kessler and Vandermark worked together in the Vandermark 5, the DKV Trio, and the Steelwool Trio.[1]

In the 1990s and afterwards he worked with Hamid Drake, Fred Anderson, and Joe McPhee and with Peter Brötzmann, Mats Gustafsson, Misha Mengelberg, and Luc Houtkamp.[2] In 2003 Okka Disk released his solo album Bull Fiddle.[3]

As of 2021, Kessler has occasionally accompanied Chicago country-music singer-songwriter Jane Baxter Miller, in performance and on record. In the 1990s, Baxter Miller, who is also Kent Kessler's wife, had performed and recorded with his sister Kelly Kessler, as the Texas Rubies country-music duo.[4][5][6][7]



As leader[edit]

As co-leader or sideman[edit]

With Boneshaker (Mars Williams, Paal Nilssen-Love, Kent Kessler)

  • Boneshaker (Trost, 2012)
  • Unusual Words (Soul What, 2014)
  • Thinking Out Loud (Trost, 2017)
  • Fake Music (Soul What, 2019)

With Peter Brötzmann

With DKV Trio

  • Baraka (Okka Disk, 1997)
  • DKV Live (Okka Disk, 1997)
  • Live in Wels & Chicago 1998 (Okka Disk, 1999)
  • Trigonometry (Okka Disk, 2002)
  • Double or Nothing (Okka Disk, 2002)
  • Collider (Not Two, 2016)
  • Latitude 41.88 (Not Two, 2017)

With NRG Ensemble

With Hal Russell

With Territory Band

  • Transatlantic Bridge (Okka Disk, 2001)
  • Atlas (Okka Disk, 2002)
  • Map Theory (Okka Disk, 2004)
  • Company Switch (Okka Disk, 2005)
  • New Horse for the White House (Okka Disk, 2006)
  • Collide (Okka Disk, 2007)

With Ken Vandermark

  • Big Head Eddie (Platypus, 1993)
  • Solid Action (Platypus, 1994)
  • Standards (Quinnah, 1995)
  • Steelwool Trio (Ken Vandermark/Kent Kessler/Curt Newton): International Front(Okka Disk, 1995)
  • Utility Hitter (Quinnah, 1996)
  • Steam: Realtime (Jim Baker/Kent Kessler/Tim Mulvenna/Ken Vandermark) (Eighth Day Music, 1997/Atavistic, 2000)
  • Single Piece Flow (Atavistic, 1997)
  • Target Or Flag (Atavistic, 1998)
  • Simpatico (Atavistic, 1999)
  • Straight Lines (Atavistic, 1999)
  • Burn the Incline (Atavistic, 2000)
  • Acoustic Machine (Atavistic, 2001)
  • Airports for Light (Atavistic, 2003)
  • Elements of Style, Exercises in Surprise (Atavistic, 2004)
  • The Color of Memory (Atavistic, 2005)
  • A Discontinuous Line (Atavistic, 2006)
  • Beat Reader (Atavistic, 2008)
  • Collected Fiction (Okka Disk, 2009)
  • Annular Gift (Not Two, 2009)
  • The Horse Jumps and the Ship Is Gone (Not Two, 2010)
  • Impressions of PO Music (Okka Disk, 2013)

With others


  1. ^ a b Layne, Joslyn. "Kent Kessler". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d Margasak, Peter (24 January 2003). "Upright Citizen". Chicago Reader. Archived from the original on 2004-10-25. Retrieved 2021-12-11.
  3. ^ "Dusted Reviews: Stepping Into the Spotlight". Dusted. April 2, 2003. Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  4. ^ Kot, Greg (November 30, 2017). "Chris and Heather add new twist to country calendar show for 20th anniversary". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  5. ^ "Jane Baxter Miller: About". Jane Baxter Miller. Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  6. ^ a b "Harm Among the Willows: Jane Baxter Miller". Bloodshot Records. 2010. Retrieved 2021-12-10.
  7. ^ Goodman, David (1999). Modern Twang: An Alternative Country Music Guide and Directory [relevant paragraphs- 'The Texas Rubies: Working Girl Blues']. Dowling Press. ISBN 9781891847035. Retrieved 2021-12-11.
  8. ^ "Okka Disk Titles". Okka Disk. Retrieved 2019-11-23.