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JazzColumbus.com Interview Series: Jeff Bass

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by Mark Subel on April 14, 2015

Next in our new series of interviews with some of Central Ohio’s finest jazz musicians is bassist Jeff Bass. A St. Louis native, this OSU alum is a first-call musician for bands of all types and genres in the area. His many current gigs include playing with Perfect Storm, Canta BRASIL, Forest & the Evergreens, George Barrie Band, and Andy Shaw Band, and is often featured with jazz musicians including Derek DiCenzo, Maxwell Button, John Suntken, and Tim Cummiskey. Bass was kind enough to answer our questions about his musical background and his ambitious plans for the future.

When and why did you start playing music and jazz?

Jeff Bass (JB): I’ve been passionate about music since I was a little one. My dad was a trumpeter, conductor and music teacher, and he gave me a flute when I was about 9 years old. Somewhere along the line I re-discovered jazz and my passion for music exploded in a new way. Searching for a new instrument, I picked up the bass when I was 15 years old, which was the perfect instrument for me to explore all different kinds of music. I just loved the sound, feel and experience of playing a bass guitar. I’ve been “pullin’ dem strings” and “a slappin’ da bass” ever since!

Who are some of your main influences in your playing/performing?

JB: My first and second bass teachers, Fernando Padron and Andy Woodson, are probably the biggest influences in my bass playing and growth as a musician. I also want to recognize the people that I’ve worked with, studied under, or seen perform in Columbus who have truly inspired me: Jeff Ciampa, Paul Robinson, Cedric Easton, Justin Campbell, DJ Washington, Danny Aguiar, Jim Rupp, Tony McClung, Kris Keith, Jim Masters, Kenyatta Beasley, Mark Flugge, Reggie Jackson, Josh Hill, Parker Muntz, Andy Shaw, Angela Perley, Michael Cox, Bobby Floyd, Chris Brown, Jacob Holloway, Hamilton Hardin, Derek DiCenzo, Dwight Adams… there are many more as well! Thank you all for sharing your gift and for being who you are, which inspires me to be who I am!

What is your fondest musical memory?

JB: My fondest musical memory is the last time I listened to music. I do say this somewhat seriously though, because every new day I’m living and I get to engage in or listen to music, it is a wonderful experience. The memories that stand out for me the most are always concerts or shows that I’m performing or attending, and all of the “conditions” are just right: a good venue or a unique setting for music, an audience that is interactive with the musicians in some way, good sound, great musicians, high spirits and a collection of beautiful souls. The vibes and the PEOPLE!!!

What are you listening to today? What’s on your playlist?

JB: Chris Botti. I love his tone. His note choice and phrasing is exceptional and always very deliberate. World class playing. D’Angelo has also been a favorite this year with his new album release, especially with Pino rockin’ the bass. Also, the album “Moscow” by Impact Fuze… they are a top-notch jazz rock fusion trio. I love their compositions and the high level of technique and musicality from each musician, including Anton Davidyants who is a phenomenal bassist on both fretted and fretless bass. Other than that, I listen to repertoire for upcoming gigs and anything else I can get my hands on.

What inspires you about the Columbus Jazz scene?

JB: All of the artists who did this interview pretty much nailed it… it’s the musicians and the people. There are a lot of talented, hard working people who are passionate about the Columbus music scene. Also the nature of Columbus, being very culturally diverse and central to Ohio, a low cost of living, a sense of community, a lot of great venues, festivals and events… it’s a hotbed for new music. Having lived here for 8 years now, I couldn’t be more grateful for all of the amazing opportunities that Columbus has provided and the continual growth of our music scene.

What are you working on for 2015? Any new projects, exciting shows or releases?

JB:I’m excited to do a Midwest tour with The Huntertones (formerly the Dan White Sextet) from April 29th through May 9th. This tour will kickoff at Natalie’s on Wednesday, April 29th, and will include other Ohio shows at Blu Jazz in Akron (April 30th) and MOTR Pub in Cincinnati (May 4th).

Other upcoming dates include playing with Chase Potter’s band at Natalie’s on Tuesday, June 2nd, along with various gigs and summer festivals such as Columbus Arts Festival (George Barrie Band) and Gahanna Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival (Andy Shaw Band, Forest and the Evergreens).

Although I enjoy performing weekly with various bands and solo artists, my long-term goal is to produce and record my own original music. Eventually I want to focus more on what I can brew in the studio rather than always performing live, so I plan to start working on that later this year.

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