Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Kramer, Mark (Steven)
Kramer, Mark (Steven), pianist, recording engineer; b. Philadelphia, PA, 3 November 1945. Kramer was born into a family which revered music of all types. His first conscious memory of music was his mother singing to him when he was about two years old. As a young child he remembers learning how to work an old record player on which he reportedly wore out several 78 RPM copies of the "Nutcracker Suite". His parents say that when he was about 4 or so he was able to hum the entire Suite from start to finish. He remembers vividly being fascinated with Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies" and wondering how he could do "that". Mark began a formal classical musical training at age five on the violin; he remembered even then his "experiments" in improvisation. After a few years, to the chagrin of his teachers, he began improvising on works such as Vivaldi's Concerto in A minor. As a teenager, Mark taught himself saxophone, drums, and bass and played professionally.
As a teen he purchased his own piano with funds he earned from an after school newspaper route. Kramer inherited books of scale exercises and Bach's two and three part inventions from a friend. After one summer, Kramer had managed to teach himself how to play the difficult scale exercises as well as the Bach 2 and 3 part inventions; moreover, unimpeded by a formal educational structure he succeeded in analyzing Bach's chord progressions and improvising cadenzas on them. He only learned to read bass clef well into his teens. After several years of dedicated practice and experimentation in jazz, Kramer became proficient enough to work with Randy and Mike Brecker, Charles Fambrough, Stanley Clarke, Mike Richmond and many other Philadelphia jazz giants.
The creators and judges of the Jacksonville Jazz Festival -- including Teddy Wilson, Dan Morgenstern, Ross Tompkins, George Wein and others -- selected Kramer for two consecutive years as one of the nation's top undiscovered jazz pianists. Also, the Philadelphia Jazz Musician's alliance recognized him as best Philadelphia jazz pianist and leader of the best trio.
Kramer has performed with Mike Brecker, Randy Brecker, Lou Tabackin, George Coleman, Johnny Coles, Bobby Watson, Lee Konitz, Tal Farlow, Richie Cole, Eddie Gomez, Joe Chambers, Red Rodney, Cecil Payne, Danny Turner, Al Cohn, Steve Turre, Al Grey,
Stanley Clarke, Charles Fambrough, Michael Richmond, Valerie Ponomarev, Ricky Ford, Joe Ford, Freddie Waits, Arnie Lawrence, Al Harrison, John Swana, Ralph Moore, Gary Bartz, Eddie Daniels, Junior Cook, among others.
Mark is the Jazz Director for a jazz club in the NorthEast Corridor (Ye Olde Temperance House, Newtown, Pa.) and maintains a tight weekly schedule of concert and club performances with his trio and quartets at the club and throughout the region. He has been often invited to teach his "Art of The Piano Trio" via lecture-demonstrations at Manhattan's New School of Music, as well as at Rutger's University (Camden) in New Jersey. Recently, Mark and veteran trumpeter Eddie Henderson co-anchored master classes on "the state of the jazz mind" at the New School of Music.
Mark's regular trio is composed of bassist Gary Mazzaroppi (also a regular with Public Radio's "piano jazz" pianist Marion McPartland, guitarists Les Paul and Tal Farlow), and drummer John Mosemann. In addition, Mark collaborates with legendary bassist Eddie Gomez, and at times drummer Joe Chambers for some of their concert bookings.
Meanwhile, he earned his MD and PhD from Temple University and worked in medical research. Hi is currently the Director of Psychopharmacology at Merck Research Laboratories, Merck and Co., West Point, Pa. where he develops novel medications for the treatment of mental illness.
The Mark Kramer Trio Album (c. 1987); EVITA en Jazz (1997); Sophisticated Ladies: Duke Ellington (1998?); Unreleased studio sessions with Eddie Gomez, Joe Chambers