John Niekrasz is a drummer, composer, teacher, and writer from Chicago. He received his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2004. A lifelong student of drum set, John has also studied percussion in Havana and classical Hindustani tabla in Varanasi, India, with Pandit Lacchu Maharaj.
John is committed to improvisation both in performance and as a compositional approach. He bridges the musico-poetic divide through text-based arrangement and syllabic musical notation. His work struggles with such spectra as poverty and ornament, rigor and effortlessness, justice and militancy.
John’s recordings appear on labels Ecstatic Peace, ESP-disk’, Killertree, and others. He has composed original scores for choreographers including Shannon Stewart, Anya Cloud, Allie Hankins, and Ginger Krebs. He performs and composes for several ensembles including Orchestra Becomes Radicalized, Sporting, Why I Must Be Careful, Glowing Life, Thicket, GRS, Poor School, and Guvna Rakety.
John Niekrasz has created work as a fellow at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, ACRE Arts Residency, and Résidence Point Dom. For six months, he lived in Paris’ Cité International des Arts, where he performed and curated events. He founded the Outset Music Series, volunteers in ACRE’s recording studio, and serves as associate artistic director of the Creative Music Guild in Portland, Oregon. He worked and taught at Revival Drum Shop for three years.
John has collaborated and performed with Fred Lonberg-Holm, Nate Wooley, Marilyn Crispell, Mary Halvorson, John Butcher, Rhys Chatham, Glenn Kotche, Jason Adasiewicz, Frode Gjerstad, Wolter Wierbos, Jack Wright, Weasel Walter, Devin Hoff, Tim Daisy, Frank Rosaly, Joanna Newsom, Akron/Family, Tomeka Reid, Alexandra Grimal, Urs Leimgruber, Tim Kinsella, Tatsuya Nakatani, Seth Brown, William Hooker, Eve Risser, John Wiese, James Baker, Sally Timms, Michael Zerang, Guro Skumsnes Moe, Jaimie Branch, James Falzone, Jason Stein, Luke Wyland, Gust Burns, Gino Robair, Jason Roebke, John Gruntfest, Wayne Montana, Doug Theriault, Mika Singh, Thollem McDonas, Josh Berman, Josh Abrams, Keefe Jackson, John Dikeman, Julien Desprez, Matt Lux, Neal Morgan, Brian Mumford, and many other fine artists.