He began with music on the cello at the age of 6, and later switched to the bass.
His earliest experiments with improvisation on the cello brought upon him the wrath of his elementary school music teacher who shouted, “Get out of here Dahlgren- you will never be a musician!”
He received his BM in Jazz Studies from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music (1986) and a MA in Composition/ Experimental Music from Wesleyan University (2003). Chris has studied composition with La Monte Young, Anthony Braxton, Alvin Lucier and Christian Wolff. He has studied bass with Barry Green, Francois Rabbath and Dave Holland, among others.
During the mid-1980’s, as the in-house bassist of the Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati, Ohio, Chris had the opportunity to learn about jazz music directly from some of the greatest American masters, such as: Herb Ellis, Red Rodney, John von Ohlen, Art Lande, Charles Tolliver and Joe Lovano. In this time he also established himself as a composer and unique voice on the bass, co-founding the band Ekimi and the music label Krysdahlark making several recordings, thereupon.
In 1993, Chris moved back to his native New York, and for eleven years was actively performing and recording with his own (Slow Commotion, Best Intentions) and other’s bands on the Downtown scene. In this period he released many of his own recordings, as a composer and improviser, on the Koch Jazz, CIMP, Not Two, Between-the-Lines, Leo, ESP and other record labels, in addition to performing on numerous recordings by other artists. From 2001 to 2009 he was a regular member of ensembles of the seminal avant-garde composer and woodwinds player Anthony Braxton.
Since 2004, he has been living in Berlin, Germany, performing, composing and collaborating with significant European musicians, composers and artists. In 2006 Chris began to play the viola da gamba, and is presently introducing this instrument into the field of improvised music. In 2008, he formed his new band: LEXICON, which had its debut recording come out on the Jazzwerkstatt label in March, 2010. Chris regularly tours around the world with his own, as well as other ensembles. Since 2003, Chris teaches and coaches ensembles in Berlin at the Musikhochschule Hanns Eisler and Jazz Institut Berlin.
He has received numerous grants and awards in music composition from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council and Headlands Arts Center (USA), as well as receiving commissions for his compositions from private individuals and organizations.