Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Helias, Mark

Helias, Mark, double bass, bass guitar, piano, composer; b. New Brunswick, NJ, 1 October 1950. He received a Bachelor of Music at Livingston College in 1974 (first graduating class in music at the college). He received a Master of Music at Yale School of Music in 1976.

He has been an Affiliate Artist at Sarah Lawrence College since 1997. He taught Master Classes at The Creative Music Studio, Woodstock, NY, 1979-80. He has taught Improvisation Workshops at the NOS Festival, Amsterdam, Holland (1981), Vancouver, B.C. (1986), and at the Jazz School, Luzerne, Switzerland (1992, 1996). He delivered an Improvisation Lecture at Berklee School of Music (1988). He did private teaching from 1973-1995.

From 1976 to the present time, he has performed at virtually every major Jazz Festival in Europe as a member of groups led by others. Performances with Anthony Braxton, Anthony Davis, Edward Blackwell, Dewey Redman, Cecil Taylor, Abbey Lincoln, George Lewis, Ray Anderson, New York City Opera, St. Louis Opera, Chamber Orchestra of New England, Julius Hemphill, Jerome Harris, Barry Altschul, Oliver Lake, Mose Allison, Gerry Hemingway, Simon Nabatov, Muhal Richard Abrams, Joe Lovano, Don Cherry, Tim Berne, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Maceo Parker, Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and many others.
As a leader, he has made a European tour with Mark Helias group in 1987, including radio recordings for Munich  Radio and Sud-West Funk, festivals in Ullrichsberg, Austria, Cordignano, Italy, and Moers, Germany. Also, concerts at The Pepsico Summer Fare 1988 and 1989 at DC Space, Washington D. C. He performed at the Vienne Jazz Festival (France) Special Bicentennial concert for commissioned String Quintet, July, 1989. His quintet toured Europe in 1990. "Mark Helias' Attack the Future" toured Europe in 1992 and has played the Atlanta Jazz Festival and Tampere Jazz Happening, Finland in 1993, a Dance Theater Workshop at the Knitting Factory  NYC in 1994 and the Groningen Jazz Marathon October 1995. His quartet played the Music Meeting at Nijmegen, Holland 1996 and also toured Europe that same year.
He has enjoyed long musical associations with Edward Blackwell, Anthony Davis, Dewey Redman, Ray Anderson,  Don Cherry and Gerry Hemingway. He appeared as  a soloist with the New York City Opera in the debut performance of  Anthony Davis' opera "X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X and with the St. Louis Opera in Davis' "Under The Double Moon".

Helias had a seventeen-year association with the great drummer Edward Blackwell.  He has also worked for two decades with Ray Anderson and Gerry Hemingway in the ensemble BassDrumBone.  
Presently Mark is leading and collaborating on various projects: The Marks Brothers with Mark Dresser in bass duets,  The Grid with cellist Erik Friedlander and clarinetist Chris Speed,  Attack the Future featuring tenor saxophonist Ellery Eskelin and drummer Tom Rainey and Open/Loose an improvising trio with rotating personnel.

His group has been praised in Pulse! magazine for its ability to "slide across musical planes with the kind of witty, graceful inevitability that bespeaks well-honed craft and an ever-more-recognizable voice."
He also did two Japanese tours and some gigs in New York with the JB Horns. Afterwards Maceo started doing his own gigs quite a bit because some of his records were getting play.  Sometimes he led the band with his own rhythm section and with Fred and Pee Wee.

Selected recordings:
Split Image (1984); The Current Set (1987); Desert Blue (1989); Attack The Future (1992); Loopin' The Cool (1995); Come Ahead Back (1998); BassDrumBone: You Be (1985), Wooferlo (1987), Hence The Reason      (1996); Slickaphonics: Check Your Head at the Door (1986), Slickaphonics Live (1987)

As sideperson:
Anthony Davis: Song For The Old World (1978), "X" The Life and Times of Malcolm X (1989); Anthony Braxton: Six Compositions (1981); Franco D'Andrea: My One and Only Love (1983); Edward Blackwell: What it Is?! (1991); Joe Lovano: Rush Hour (1994); Ray Anderson: Wishbone; Marty Ehrlich: Just Before the Dawn; Jerome Harris: Algorithms; Dewey Redman: The Struggle Continues

As producer:
Lindsey Horner: Never No More; Ray Anderson: What Because, Wishbone, Every One of Us, Don't Mow Your Lawn; Andy Laster: Hydra; Bobby Previte: Slay the Suitors; Jerome Harris: Hidden In Plain View; Mark Dresser: Bosnia

Grants and Awards:
CAPS Grant in Music Composition 1981
NEA Grant in Jazz Performance 1984
NEA Grant in Jazz Composition 1985
NYFA Grant in Music Composition 1988
NEA Grant in Jazz Composition 1989
NEA Grant in Jazz Composition 1990
Arts International Travel Grant 1990
NEA Grant in Jazz Performance 1991
Meet The Composer/Readers Digest Commission 1991       
Arts International Travel Grant 1993
NYFA Grant In Music Composition 1994
NEA Grant in Jazz Composition 1995
Arts International Travel Grant 1996

"Proto" 1987   for small orchestra commissioned by Central Park Summer Stage and A. Leroy.  Performed at Summer Stage and LaMama.
" 23 "  (Two Cubed) 1986 Video, Dance and Music collaboration with John Sanborn, Mary Perillo, Pierce Turner and XXY Dance. Performed at Ars Electronica Festival Linz, Austria and St. Marks Church, NYC.
"Standing Still" 1987 for electronic tape, commissioned by the Wilderness Fund.
"Geography" 1987 Score for dance video of Molissa  Fenley Dance Company made in collaboration with Mary Perillo and John Sanborn.
"How Things Work" 1988 Score for film collaboration with Mary Perillo and John Sanborn.
"Maple and Spruce" 1988 for Four Double Basses premiered at Cathedral of St. John The Divine NYC.
"Upside The Downside" 1992 premiere in St. Louis by the String Trio of New York.  Commissioned by Meet The Composer/Readers Digest.
"Yellow Bus" 1992 score for Cyndi Lee Dance Company.  Premiered at Central Park Summer Stage NYC.
"In Hear Out There" 1994 for Orchestra
"Only By Night" 1995 for string quartet
Score for the feature film The Pagan BookArthur Rimbaud by Jay Anania
More than seventy other compositions for small ensembles have been performed live and recorded on various albums  since 1978.   

Contact information:
P.O. Box 20364
New York, NY 10009    
tel.  212/260-5242  
fax (212)-260-1507
email radiolegs@earthlink.net

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