Drummer/percussionist Damien Bassman is the featured drummer/percussionist in Kristjan Jarvi's internationally acclaimed Absolute Ensemble, performing everything from Mahler to Frank Zappa, and collaborating with world renown artists such as Paquito DiRivera, Marcel Khalife, Peter Erskine, and Napolean Murphy Brock & Mike Kenealy of Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention. Damiens's most recent work with Absolute Ensemble includes a forthcoming CD which was recorded with fusion legend Joe Zawinul in 2007, a regular teaching and performing residency at the annual Bremen (Germany) Musicfest every autumn, a sold-out 15 city European tour with Serbian-Gypsy sensation Gregor Bregovich, and a tour of New Zealand in 2008. Damien was a featured drumset soloist with the Tonkunstler Orchestra in Vienna and Italy, and recorded with the orchestra playing drumset and hand drums on Leonard Bernstein's Mass
. At the invitation of international Swiss composer and saxophonist Daniel Schnyder, Damien was a guest multi-percussion soloist with the composer and the NDR Radio Orchestra, performing a 5-city tour with regular live broadcasts in 2007, and is joining them again for a European tour in 2008. American composer John Mackey wrote his Concerto for Percussion for Mr. Bassman, who has performed it with several American orchestras. Damien also collaborated with Nobel Prize & Oscar-winning composer John Corigliano on his recent percussion concerto for Evelyn Glennie. Mr. Bassman has performed as both soloist and section percussionist/timpanist with the Cleveland Orchestra, the National Symphony, the Columbus Symphony and under the batons of some of the world's leading conductors in concert halls in Europe, Asia, and America.
In early 2008, Damien wrote, arranged, and performed the hybrid multi-percussion/drumset book for the hit musical Next To Normal
, which the NY Times said was of "value to anyone interested in the future of the American musical." He also created the drum/percussion book for Hi-Fidelity
, the Original cast Recording of which debuted on the Billboard chart at #6. Additional Broadway/Off-B'wy experience includes creating and performing the African/multi-percussion book for The Color Purple
(including appearances on David Letterman and Oprah), on-stage drumset for Mario Cantone's Laugh Whore
(also a Showtime television special), Aida
, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
, Legally Blonde
, Never Gonna Dance
, Fiddler On The Roof
, Caroline Or Change
, The Wedding Singer
, Glory Days
, Radiant Baby
, and Making Tracks
, the Original Cast Recording of which went #1 on Sony International. He is also currently the on-stage music director/drummer for Mike Minery's Tapaholics
, during which he is featured on both drumset and djembe. He can also be seen drumming on-stage at the monthly, after-hours improv comedy show, "Don't Quit Your Night Job", which features a revolving door of current TV, movie, and Broadway stars singing and performing live on stage. Recent projects include collaborating with the band Green Day on the Broadway adaptation of their CD American Idiot
, and working with composer Andrew Lippa, Nathan Lane, & Bebe Neuwirth on the Broadway musical The Addams Family
In May, 2007, Damien joined Barry Manilow's band, performing on an array of Latin and African percussion instruments, as well as a battery of classical percussion gear. Damien also serves as drummer/percussionist in the bands of many of Broadway's biggest stars, including Adam Paschal (Rent, School of Rock
), Kelli O'Hara (South Pacific, The Pajama Game
), Jason Danieley (Curtains, Chicago
), Julia Murney (Wicked, Lennon
), and Michael Longoria (Jersey Boys
). In addition to these artist's recordings, Damien can be heard on the albums of artists internationally as diverse as French-Canadian pop star Lara Fabian and Korean bass virtuoso Mowg Lee's chart topper Desire
Damien's dance compositions have been heard internationally from New York's Lincoln Center to venues in Australia and Europe. He regularly performs with top-tier modern dance companies such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Parson's Dance Company, Cunningham Dance Company, and recently played and served as music director for Battlework's season at New York's famed Joyce Theater. Damien can be seen and heard daily at Manhattan's top dance studios accompanying dance classes and working with Tony-caliber choreographers such as Mia Michaels, Ann Reinking, Jerry Mitchell, Chris Gatelli, and Sergio Trujillo. Damien completed an 8-part DVD which was launched nationally in late fall of 2006 in which he is featured on-screen accompanying intense dance-workouts. Damien has played with rock legends Kansas and regularly records and plays drumset/percussion with many New York-based bands and singer-songwriters at New York's top venues like Joe's Pub, Irving Plaza, Arlene's Grocery, The Mercury Lounge, The Blue Note, and The Bitter End. Damien is an adjunct faculty member at Marymount Manhattan College.
Originally from Fairfax, Virginia, he received his BM from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a MM and Performer's Residency Certificate from Carnegie Mellon University. He also earned an Advanced Performer's Certificate from The Juilliard School.
Damien proudly endorses Toca Percussion and Ziljian Cymbals.
The online e-zine -Ism Magazine did a feature on Damien in August 2006.