Chris Dingman is among the most celebrated composers and sought-after vibraphonists of his generation. Hailed by the New York Times as a “dazzling” soloist and a composer with a “fondness for airtight logic and burnished lyricism,” his integrative approach to composition lends his music a fluidity and accessibility that transcends genres and has earned him praise as “an extremely gifted composer, bandleader, recording artist, and much sought-after sideman.” (Jon Weber, NPR).
Dingman has collaborated and performed with some of the greatest musical minds, including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Anthony Braxton. His long-standing collaborations include cutting edge artists such as Ambrose Akinmusire, Steve Lehman, Jen Shyu, Tyshawn Sorey, Jimmy Greene, Ingrid Jensen, Fabian Almazan, Garth Stevenson and many others.
Dingman’s latest major work, The Subliminal and the Sublime, was commercially released by Inner Arts Initiative in June of 2015. The Subliminal and the Sublime is a 62-minute work continuously unfolding in five movements. Blending jazz, ambient electronica, and minimalism through vivid textures and sweeping narratives, Dingman explores subliminal layers of patterns, detail, and depth inspired by the natural world. Commissioned by Chamber Music America and the Doris Duke Foundation, and premiered in November 2013, The Subliminal and the Sublime was one of three works featured at the 2015 Concert of Commissioned Works, as part of the Chamber Music America National Conference. The piece was later featured in the Bryant Park new music series and at The Greene Space at WNYC. In the press, the album was selected as #1 Jazz Album of the Year in the Huffington Post, and included on many year-end lists for best of 2015.
In 2011, Dingman released his debut album, Waking Dreams to widespread critical acclaim. The album was called “gorgeous” (Time Out NY), “brilliant” (All About Jazz), and “luminous” (NY Times). Stereophile called it “a very big, pleasant surprise” and the Los Angeles Times commended: “rich and full of unexpected twists but never less than approachable, Waking Dreams casts an atmospheric spell true to its name.” In 2012, Dingman was named Rising Star Vibraphonist of the Year in Downbeat Magazine, was an Up-and-Coming Artist of the Year nominee at the Jazz Journalist Association Awards, and was featured on NPR’s Piano Jazz: Rising Stars. From 2012 – 2014 he toured the project to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, and New Haven, as well as several performances in and around New York City – including the Jazz and Colors Festival in Central Park, the Jazz Gallery, St Peters Church, Cornelia Street Cafe, and Zinc Bar.
Since his arrival in New York in 2007, Dingman has been busy working as a sideman in a wide array of projects, performing with groups led by Ambrose Akinmusire, Steve Lehman, Gerald Clayton, Jen Shyu, Anthony Braxton, Mike Moreno, Ike Sturm, John Ellis, and many others. His playing has been featured on several critically acclaimed albums, including Mise En Abime and Travail, Transformation, and Flow, by Steve Lehman (Pi Recordings); Prelude: to Cora, by Ambrose Akinmusire (Fresh Sound/New Talent); and numerous records by by Harris Eisenstadt’s group Canada Day, among many others. For these achievements and more, he was named a Rising Star on vibes for five years in a row from 2009 to 2014 in the Downbeat Critics Polls, topping the category in 2012. In the 2015 Downbeat Critics Poll, Dingman was voted among the top 8 vibraphonists in jazz – along with legends Gary Burton and Bobby Hutcherson, and torchbearers Joe Locke and Stefon Harris.
Dingman continues to keep up a busy performance schedule, including numerous tours of Western Europe, Canada, and the United States, as well as a rigorous performing and recording schedule in the New York City area. Recent performances have included some of the world’s top festivals, including the North Sea, Vancouver, Newport, and Torino Jazz Festivals, as well as some of the world’s finest performing arts venues such as Bimhuis (Amsterdam), Culturgest (Lisbon), Wexner Center (Columbus, OH), Atlas Arts (Washington DC), the Rubin Museum of Art, Joe’s Pub; and universities such as Harvard, Princeton, Brown, Wesleyan, University of Michigan, and many others.
Dingman is also involved several collaborative projects that are now gaining steam. The group Motions is a quartet along with Kaoru Watanabe (Japanese and Western flutes), Tim Keiper (kamale nguni and percussion), and Matt Kilmer (percussion), featuring timbres and melodies from their extensive and diverse musical backgrounds – traditional and contemporary musics from Japan, Mali, the Middle East, Brazil, and the US – to create a unified sound that is both eclectic and organic. Dingman’s collabarations in a duo format with guitarist Ryan Ferreira create beautiful soundscapes and facscinating textures, with the two chordal voices criss-crossing and sounding as one.
Dingman is also a founding member of the Jazz Samaritan Alliance. This collective, including core members Noah Baerman, Jimmy Greene, Kris Allen, and Jonathan Blake, creates and presents socially conscious original jazz, while raising funding and awareness for select charities. These charities become the source of inpiration for the original work being presented, bring the music and the cause into full-circle collaboration.
While growing up in San Jose, California, Dingman began piano and percussion studies at an early age. He went on to attend Wesleyan University, where he received his B.A. with honors in music. While at Wesleyan, he studied intensively with vibraphonist Jay Hoggard, drummer Pheeroan AkLaff, composer/multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton, and mridangist David Nelson. During this time, he was heavily involved in the study of many of the world’s musical cultures, including South Indian, West African, Korean, Afro-Cuban, and Brazilian music. In the summer of 2000, his studies brought him to Kerala, India to delve further into mridangam and South Indian classical music.
In 2005, Dingman was one of only seven musicians selected by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Terence Blanchard to participate in the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. At the Institute, he studied with Terence Blanchard, Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Jimmy Heath, Jerry Bergonzi, Wynton Marsalis, Jason Moran, Lewis Nash, Hal Crook, Stefan Harris, John Magnussen, Vince Mendoza, Russell Ferrante, and many others. He received his Master of Music degree from USC and the Monk Institute in 2007.
During his time at the Monk Institute, Dingman had the opportunity to perform extensively with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter. In November of 2005, they traveled with the Monk Institute ensemble on a U.S. State Department tour of Vietnam. The ensemble gave concerts and master classes in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. In January of 2007, he traveled again with Hancock, Shorter, and the Monk Institute ensemble, this time to Mumbai, Calcutta, New Delhi, and Agra, India, where they performed for capacity crowds and presented clinics at the Ravi Shankar Institute in Delhi and St. John’s School in Mumbai.
In addition to performing, Chris is an active educator, working with students of all ages and levels for the past 15 years. His extensive teaching experience includes presenting master classes at conservatories and schools both nationally and internationally (including Miami-Dade College, Trinity College, Vancouver Jazz Festival, the National Conservatory of Vietnam, Staffeldsgate College in Oslo, Norway, and more), directing a summer music camp for students ages 11-18, leading jazz ensembles at the high school and middle school levels, and teaching group percussion classes for both children and adults.
In addition to presenting workshops and educational residencies throughout the world, he teaches vibraphone, composition, piano, percussion, and jazz improvisation in private lessons and group classes through Inner Arts Initiative and Play Music in Brooklyn, NY. You may contact Chris directly for more information about lessons or clinics. For more information about Play Music, visit www.playmusicnyc.org.