(April 19, 1957 - living) U.S.A.
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he was raised in Colorado, studied at the Conservatory, and in 1976 picked up the synthesizer and formed the improvisor ensemble Fall Mountain with Ned Rothenberg (reeds) and Jim Katzin (violin), and extended pieces such as Ultima Thule and Small Life, thus becoming one of the first improvisors at the electronic keyboards.
In 1978 he joined Anthony Braxton, and in 1979 he relocated to New York, where he became part of the "creative" scene. His first album, Getting A Head (1980), was a trio with guitarist Fred Frith and drummer Charles Noyes, and Ostertag playes all sorts of electronic and self-made instruments.
Voice Of America (1983) documents live concerts with Fred Frith in which Ostertag displayed the same skills at electronic improvisation and add a new technique to his bad of tricks: sampling (achieved with a stack of tapes because the sampler had not been invented yet).
Distracted by his political activities (supporting revolutionary movements in Central America), Orstertag returned to recording only after a seven-year hiatus but armed with a sampler: Attention Span (1990) featured Frith on guitars and John Zorn on saxophone, while Sooner or Later (1991), an ambitious work of soundsculpting, was based on the crying of a Salvadorean boy.
A protagonist of the gay-rights movement, Ostertag payed tribute to the San Francisco gay riots with the string quartet All The Rage (1992) and Burns Like Fire (1992), that employ popular music as well as sounds of the riots (and string instruments) as sources.
Say No More was a virtual quartet with drummer Joey Baron, bassist Mark Dresser, percussionist Gerry Hemingway (whose group music was actually composed by a computer and sampler from separate individual performances), that released Say No More (1993), the live In Person (1994), Verbatim (1996) and Verbatim Flesh & Blood (2000).