Mark Summer (cello) is a founding member of Turtle Island and is widely regarded, thanks not least to his phenomenal percussion and pizzicato techniques, as one of the outstanding cellists of our time.
A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music, and a recipient of their 2007 DIstinguished Alumnae award, Summer was a tenured member of the Winnipeg Symphony for three years, before leaving the orchestra to perform in several Canadian contemporary and Baroque ensembles, as well as his own group, The West-End String Band. Asked to perform at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in 1985, the group went on to record Summer’s original music for CBC Radio. That same year, Summer visited the Bay Area where he was invited by David Balakrishnan to help form the quartet.
He continued to touch base with his classical roots, performing with the Chamber Symphony of San Francisco, the Oakland Symphony, Oakland Ballet, and the contemporary music ensemble, Earplay. In the 23 years since embarking on an improvisational musical odyssey, Summer has continued to develop a unique and multi-timbered style, which incorporates virtuoso jazz soloing, distinctive bass lines, and extensive percussive techniques adapted from the guitar, bass and drums.
He has been the subject of feature articles in Strings and Bass Player magazines, and has published two pieces for solo cello, one of which, “Julie-O,” has been performed by cellists all over the world. In addition to composing and performing with Turtle Island, Summer performed for several years
in a trio with clarinet virtuoso Paquito D’Rivera, participating in the trio’s 2005 Grammy-nominated recording The Jazz Chamber Trio. He has been recorded for numerous motion picture soundtracks and performed and appeared on albums with singers Linda Ronstadt, Toni Childs, guitarist Jeff Tamelier of Tower of Power, saxophonist Kirk Whalum, and guitarist Will Ackerman. His more notable cello exploits include performing the Brahms Clarinet Trio in a sandstone grotto by the banks of the Colorado River in Moab, Utah, and a performance on Taos Mountain at 11,000 feet on a cello made of ice.