Chris Corsano bio

photo by jack bevan



"...arguably the most riotously energetic and creative drummer in contemporary free jazz" - Wire Magazine

"One of the world's great drummers." -The Guardian 

Chris Corsano (b. 1975, USA) is a New York-based drummer who has been active at the intersections of collective improvisation, free jazz, avant-rock, and experimental music since the late 1990's. He's been the rim-batterer of choice for some of the greatest contemporary purveyors of "jazz" (Joe McPhee, Paul Flaherty, Mette Rasmussen, Zoh Amba) and "rock" (Sir Richard Bishop, Bill Orcutt, Jim O'Rourke), as well as artists beyond categorization (Björk for her Volta album and world tour, Michael Flower, Okkyung Lee).

Corsano began a long-standing, high-energy musical partnership with saxophonist Paul Flaherty in 1998. Their style, which they occasionally refer to with (semi-)tongue-in-cheek humor as "The Hated Music", combines modern free-jazz's ecstatic collectivism with the urgency and intensity of hardcore punk. A move from western Massachusetts to the UK in 2005 led Corsano to develop his solo music -- a dynamic, spontaneously-composed orchestra-of-one utilizing extended techniques for drum set, non-percussive instruments of his own creation (e.g. bowed violin strings stretched across drum heads), circular breathing on modified reed instruments, and stockpiles of resonant metals. He spent 2007-08 as the drummer on Björk's Volta world tour, all the while weaving in shows and recordings on his days off with the likes of Evan Parker, Michael Flower, and Jandek. He moved back to the U.S. in 2009 and continued touring in an ultrawide array of ever-evolving collaborations. In 2017 he won the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award. A renowned solo performer in his own right, Corsano has a new solo record, The Key..., due out next year on the Drag City label. 

His dedication to collective improvisation has led to Corsano to join forces with many kindred spirits and his appearance on over 180 records and thousands of live performances. He's worked with, among others: Paul Dunmall (released by the label: ESP-Disk), Joe McPhee (Roaratorio), Okkyung Lee (Open Mouth), Bill Orcutt (Palilalia), Mette Rasmussen (Hot Cars Warp Records & Clean Feed), John Edwards (OTOroku & Dancing Wayang), Sylvie Courvoisier (Relative Pitch), Nate Wooley (No Business & Astral Spirits), Jim O'Rourke & Akira Sakata (Drag City & Polystar), Merzbow (Family Vineyard), Jessica Rylan (Load Records), Rodrigo Amado (Trost), Nels Cline (Strange Attractors), Heather Leigh (Volcanic Tongue), Ghédalia Tazartès (Ultra Eczema), Ken Vandermark (Audiographic), and Sunburned Hand Of Man (Manhand).

Instagram: @chriscorsano - videos, artwork, photos, etc.

Video: Youtube channel with solo & group live works and animated videos

Video footage from the recording
of the solo CD Cut

Cut CD


The Young Cricketer (2006):
"How should you pick up the ball and throw it?"
 "What do we mean by coaching?"

Blood Pressure (2006):
"Systolic (edited version)"

Another Dull Dawn (2009):
"Kittenish Gnawing, Pt. 1"  
"The Frayed Elevator Cable" 
"Another Dull Dawn"  

High and Dry (2010):
"Susquehanna Hat Company" (edit)

Cut (2012):
"My Face, Spited"
"Suppli e Domanda"
The Young Cricketer Blood Pressure
High and Dry Another Dull Dawn

Links: - website with live dates past and present, complete discography, mp3s, etc.

corsano photos
Click here for thumbnails of 300 dpi photos

Press Quotes:

"Corsano, despite being arguably the most riotosly energetic and creative drummer in contemporary free jazz, does far more than merely bash his kit into submission. Playing loud does not mean abandoning subtlety, and Corsano's sudden shifts of texture and dynamics are a wonder to behold." - Dan Warburton, The Wire (April 2006)

Voted one of the '100 Greatest Drummers of Alternative Music' by Spin Magazine (May 2013), who also chose Corsano & Bill Orcutt's Brace Up! LP as one of  the '15 Best Experimental Albums of 2018'

"Corsano has a way of ushering out the best in his cohorts (see any of his mind-blowing work with Paul Flaherty for testament) and is one of the best free improvising drummers active (I’d put him in the top 5 without batting an eyelash)." - Nick Metzger, Free Jazz Blog (Dec. 2018)

"One of the world's great drummers." The Guardian (Jan. 2020)

"powerhouse drummer" - Christopher R. Weingarten, Rolling Stone (Mar. 2017)

"[Corsano is] an improviser who ignores all boundaries and limitations and seems game for any challenge—playing and touring with Bjork or going head-to-head with the legendary British saxophonist Evan Parker....Keeping up with Corsano is a daunting endeavor, but examining an assortment of recent releases reveals his versatility—he readily adapts to disparate contexts without surrendering his intense personality." - Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader (Aug. 2016)

"...the musician with the most representation on the compiled list is Chris Corsano..." -Keith Prosk, The Free Jazz Collective's "Top 101 Recordings of the 2010s"

"One of those musicians who always seems to have developed exponentially since last viewing." - Andrey Henkin, The New York City Jazz Record (Feb. 2013)

"At Chris Corsano's solo performance at the Stone last night, the punchline was on anybody who's ever made a drummer joke. The 36-year-old musician played an astounding set that both redefined the instrument and created a coherent 35-minute piece of music that never ceased in its hallucinatory and resourceful improvisation." - Jesse Jarnow, Village Voice (May 2012). See also: Jesse Jarnow's feature, The Magnetic Improvisation of Chris Corsano, in The Independent Weekly

"Mr. Corsano is a peripatetic ace of the avant-garde." - Nate Chinen, New York Times (Sept. 2012)

"Corsano, as ever, is a joy to hear - it goes without saying that he has carved out a name for himself as one of the greatest improvisational drummers."  - Derek Stone, Free Jazz Blog (June 2017)

"If I told you that percussionist Chris Corsano is equally persuasive playing ultradetailed free improv with Evan Parker, scorched-earth electric raga jams with Mick Flower, and primal dance beats with Bjork, I’d be telling the truth but selling him short. His excellent 2006 solo album, The Young Cricketer, covers still more ground—he’s also a hell of a one-man band. Augmenting his drum kit with a heap of odds and ends—kitchen implements, a violin, a couple bows, saxophone mouthpieces blown into plastic tubes—he creates scalding Tony Conrad-like string assaults, intricate layered gamelan-style patterns, reed-and-percussion freak-outs that sound like something lifted off a forgotten ESP free-jazz record, and a delicate collage of chiming and rustling you could almost mistake for a surreptitiously recorded tea ceremony. Corsano is also great to watch—sometimes a marvelous vision of fluid and purposeful motion, sometimes an outrageous ham." - Bill Meyer, Chicago Reader (Sept. 2009)

"Anyone who has ever seen him live already knows it, but this solo session [The Young Cricketer] slams the notion home; Chris Corsano is seriously one of the most exciting drummers on the planet." - Adam Richards, (Feb. 2006)

"More to the point, Corsano was Corsano. In just 13 show-stopping minutes, the Western Mass percussion polymath performed nothing short of hi-hat surgery. The hats stood alone, contact-mic’d, amped, and ravaged with distortion; Corsano tore in with sticks, mallets, and metal rods, prying tones from the bowels no one knew existed. His work with Mick Flower, Paul Flaherty, and others is well known; alone, though, Corsano answers to no one, and his clinic realigned every facile give-the-drummer-some heuristic underwriting our approach to percussive or non-tonal technique. Satisfied, the good doctor seized the hi-hat, shook out its last rippling roars, and decamped to the kit for another crusade: gongs came and went, toms quivered, another exquisite eruption. Corsano’s improv never feels indulgent, and his set, the night’s only to engage acoustic tones in a substantive way, wasn’t surpassed." - PSRE's review of No Fun Fest in Tiny Mix Tapes (May 2009)

"...Chris Corsano, a young free player who already looks like becoming the most significant and syntactically advanced percussionist to come out of the free rock/jazz nexus." - David Keenan, Scottish Sunday Herald (May 18, 2003)

"At one point...Corsano even duos with himself, hurling spittle through a piece of horn while simultaneously pounding out a blurry beat. But that's just the tip of this massive iceberg, which drips with so many ideas and so much head-grabbing sound I almost wonder if Chris should retire now - this would easily qualify as the life-highlight of most sound-generating mortals." - Marc Masters' review of The Young Cricketer in Noiseweek (April 2006)

"Corsano is one of the best drummers of his generation" - Byron Coley, Arthur Magazine (Sept. 2002)

"The drum solo is usually considered a bemoaned indulgence in any musical tradition, but Corsano, like Han Bennink before him, has constructed it as a stand-alone art form." - Believer Magazine (July 2013)

"Corsano updates the multi-directional freedom of Rashied Ali and deftly shudders about the drums with jaw-dropping skillfulness, coaxing a staggering array of rhythms and sounds from his traps." - Chris Scofield, Fakejazz

"...deadly drum explosions...swatting his kit as if it were covered in giant ants, with every component used to full effect - a tightly orchestrated beating of skins and rims resounding over the ensuing flow of inventive exploration" - Edwin Pouncey, The Wire