Author: Crystal Gloistein

Gerald Veasley

Gerald Veasley’s musical odyssey has taken him to the top of the contemporary music world as a bassist, bandleader, composer, producer and educator. His performance as a bassist has been top shelf, as his memorable work with the late, great Grover Washington Jr., Joe Zawinul, and the Jaco Pastorius Big Band attests.

He has recorded and/or performed with many of the world’s top performers in various genres of music such as Chuck Loeb, Special EFX, Pieces of a Dream, McCoy Tyner, Gerald Levert, Teddy Pendergrass, Nnenna Freelon, Philip Bailey, The Dixie Hummingbirds, Phil Perry, Will Downing and Pat Martino.

Gerald currently has a residency at Philadelphia’s most prestigious jazz venue, SOUTH, where he is curator of the “Unscripted Jazz Series”. The series has presented more than 75 events featuring notable guest artists such as Kirk Whalum, Raul Midón, Alex Bugnon, Kim Waters, Keiko Matsui, Maysa, Rick Braun, and Gerald Albright. He is in the process of producing two recording projects, “The Purple House” and a salute to the legacy of The Sound of Philadelphia.

When not collaborating with notable artists, Gerald tours and records with his band, which features talented musicians in their own right. Gerald’s recordings as a bandleader are: Look Ahead, Signs, Soul Control, Love Letters, On The Fast Track, Velvet, Live at The Jazz Base, Your Move and The Electric Mingus Project.

Veasley is on the faculty of the University of the Arts (Philadelphia), where he shares his knowledge of the electric bass and jazz performance. He is founder and artistic director of Gerald Veasley’s Bass BootCamp, which has nurtured a growing army of bassists of all skill levels. Whether performing, recording, collaborating, or teaching, Gerald brings a joyous, polished professionalism to the process of making music.

Marcus Miller

Marcus Miller has been dubbed one of the most influential artists of our time. At the top of his game for over 30 years, he is a two-time Grammy award winner, (U.S.), winner of the 2013 Edison Award for Lifetime Achievement In Jazz (Holland), winner of the 2010 Victoire du Jazz (France) and in 2013, was appointed a UNESCO Artist For Peace. His characteristic bass sound can be heard on a limitless catalog of musical hits from Bill Wither’s “Just The Two Of Us” , to Luther Vandross’ “Never Too Much”, to songs from Chaka Khan, David Sanborn, Herbie Hancock, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, George Benson, Elton John and Bryan Ferry to name a few. With his distinctive style – a unique combination of funk, groove, soul and pure technical skills – Miller has been referred to as one of the most significant bass players in jazz, R &B, fusion and soul. Bass Player Magazine includes him on its list of ten most influential jazz players of this generation.

In addition to these career highlights, Miller has a rich and very deep resume of outstanding collaborations, including a 15- year song-writing and production partnership with Luther Vandross, resulting in 13 consecutive platinum selling albums of which Miller Produced 7, and a double Grammy win in 1992 – for the double platinum selling album Power Of Love/Love Power winning “Best R & B Vocal” as well as “Best R & B Song”. It was the last # 1 R & B album for twelve years before Vandross’ mega cross-over pop hit Dance With My Father in 2001.

Miller also left an indelible mark on the careers of artists as varied and talented as David Sanborn, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Al Jarreau, Bob James, Lalah Hathaway and Wayne Shorter. Most notable, after several years of touring in Miles Davis’ band in the early 80’s, Miller developed a close professional and personal relationship with Davis which led to his collaboration on three critically acclaimed albums – the most famous being the ground-breaking album and title song Tutu, making Miller the last primary producer, arranger and composer for this great jazz legend. The album and title song, which Miller composed, produced, arranged and performed on, is widely regarded as a significant addition to the canon of contemporary jazz music. Not only did the album win two Grammy awards, it is considered to be one of the definitive Miles Davis albums of our time.

Most Miller aficionados know that as a composer, Miller has an endless list of film and television credits to his name. Miller rose from writing the go-go mega hit ‘Da Butt’ for Spike Lee’s 1988 film School Daze to becoming the go-to composer for over 20 top urban movies. His film scores include the cult-classic House Party( feat. Kid ‘N Play – 1990); the Eddie Murphy/Halle Berry classic film Boomerang (1992); Above The Rim (feat. Tupac Shakur and Marlon Wayans -1994); Two Can Play That Game (feat. Vivica Fox, Gabrielle Union, Morris Chestnut and Anthony Anderson – 2001); This Christmas (feat. Idris Elba and Chris Brown – 2007); the Chris Rock cult classic Good Hair (2009); and About Last Night (feat. Kevin Hart and Regina Bell – 2014). Marcus also supplied the music for the successful weekly TV series Everybody Hates Chris, currently in syndication.

Most recently, Miller composed the music for the Oscar nominated film Marshall (2017) directed by Reginald Hudlin and starring Chadwick Boseman as a young Thurgood Marshall and Emmy-award-winning actor Sterling Brown from the hit TV series This Is Us. The film was the winner of the 2017 Chicago International Film Festival award; the 2017 African American Film Critics Award; the 2017 Hollywood Film Festival Award, and was also a 2017 Image and Critics Choice award nominee, and received five NAACP Image award nominations.

As if that weren’t enough, Miller also broadcasts two weekly radio shows – one in the U.S. and the other in the U.K. Jazz with Marcus Miller On MillerTime (affectionately referred to asThe Marcus Party by fans) airs every Sunday on SiriusXM. Miller’s radio show in London is called TransAtlantic Jazz With Marcus Miller and broadcasts each Wednesday on Jazz FM in the UK. Miller is also the annual host and head-line artist on multiple jazz cruises each year offered by Entertainment Cruise Productions including the very popular Blue Note At Sea jazz cruise, as well as the Smooth Jazz Cruise – all of which sell out each year.

On top of all of this, Miller has been a prolific artist and bandleader in his own right for well over 20 years, having released over a dozen albums under his name. Miller tours extensively worldwide with a band of gifted young musicians – perhaps reminding audiences of a certain Miles Davis who did the same for Miller and other young musicians like Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter.

Miller is the performer/composer/producer and arranger of ten critically acclaimed solo projects, among them The Sun Don’t Lie (feat. Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter); Tales (feat. Me’Shell NdegéOcello and Q-Tip) Silver Rain (feat. guest artist Eric Clapton) Free (feat. Corinne Bailey Rae); A Night In Monte Carlo (feat. the Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra) and Renaissance (2012). His album M2 won the Grammy award for best Contemporary Jazz Album in 2001.

In 2015, Miller released Afrodeezia, an album inspired by his role as a UNESCO spokesperson for the Slave Routes Project. For that album, Miller incorporated musical influences from countries along the Atlantic slave route passage, collaborating with musicians from West Africa, North Africa, South America and the Caribbean. The album earned a 2016 Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Jazz Album and Miller performed more than 250 sold-out shows worldwide behind the album’s release.

Miller’s current project – the new genre-defying album Laid Black, due to be released June 1st, brings the story of the Afrodeezia journey “home” where we find Miller incorporating more modern, urban elements into his music from trap, hiphop, R&B to gospel. Of this music, Miller says: “After Afrodeezia where I did a lot of traveling all over the world, I thought it would be cool to bring into the mix, some of the influences of our time that I was listening to right here at home. My band and the guest artists I recruited to collaborate with on this album are all versatile enough to play music ranging from be-bop to hip-hop. That made the musical mix I wanted to pursue on this album very possible.”

Anyone who has listened to Miller’s music or experienced Miller’s concerts live, knows that they are in for quite an experience with the new album. Miller’s powerful, jazz/funk bass playing is out in full force with this music – pushing boundaries and taking jazz to new levels. Miller, along with his incredible band of young talents, will be sure to excite, challenge and transport audiences.

The new album, Laid Black, features special guest performances by Trombone Shorty, Kirk Whalum, Patches Stewart, Take 6, Jonathan Butler and guest vocalist Selah Sue. Laid Black is certain to thrill and exhilarate Miller fans and will help continue to propel Miller to the world superstar status of fusion, funk, soul and jazz master!

Scott Ambush

I started playing the bass at twelve when my buddies decided to start a band. Since one of them already had a drumset, I became the bass player. (I’ve been a frustrated drummer ever since.) We began playing rock and roll by such artists as Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Sly and the Family Stone, The Isley Brothers, Parliament/Funkadelic, and others.

A few years later, my cousin Allen turned me on to Return to Forever and Stanley Clarke. I was never the same. We formed a band playing “fusion” and straight ahead jazz, while also playing funk and R&B in other bands. Incidentally, my mother was a gospel singer, so there was also a lot of spiritual music in my household. This made for a very diverse` musical development. After high school, I attended the University of MD at College Park. While studying psychology during the day, I was introduced to the Washington, D.C. music scene at night.

Eventually I was spending more time playing than studying, and left school to pursue music. I played,(and still often do) with a wide variety of musicians and bands in the area. This exposure led to gigs with regional and national acts both locally and on the road. (see partial performance list.) Through word of mouth, I was recommended for the bass job with Spyro Gyra. After auditioning, I got the gig (obviously). The past twenty-five years touring with the band have been a great experience. We get to see the world, meet new people, and have our music appreciated by thousands of fans. What more could a middle child ask for?

Joe Aranda

Joe found his passion for bass in 1983 at age 16 while attending Siena Heights College and later at Washtenaw Community College focusing on jazz. He has studied with great mentors such as Victor Wooten, Steve Bailey, Marcus Miller and Dan Pliskow.

Joe currently teaches bass privately and also is a member of the Chris Canas Band and has recently performed with national jazz artists Jessy J, Eric Marienthal, Chris Standring and Jay Rowe.

Oskar Cartaya

Oskar Cartaya, during the course of a full career playing bass, composing, arranging and acting as musical director for an amazing array of artists, Oskar has soaked up the influences of his homes in Puerto Rico, New York and Los Angeles to create his very unique style.

A long prolific career working with the likes of Spyro GyraHerb AlbertJennifer LopezCelia CruzRubén BladesTito PuenteRobbie RobertsonWillie ColonDave Valentin and more has given a solid reputation in the music industry.

Some of Oskar’s credits include the production of “Passion Dance” by Herb Alpert (Almo Records) and “Plenarriqueña” for Jennifer Lopez, a live concert on DVD (Sony Music). Touring with a plethora of artists including Steve WinwoodSpyro Gyra and the late Tito Puente.

Add in to the mix a stint in the house band for TV’s “ShowTime at The Apollo”, The ESPY’SLatin GrammyGuys Choice Awards composing and arranging for projects such as Jodie Foster’s movie Contact, Producing the soundtrack for the movie “Wedding Bell Blues” and playing on Grammy®Winning albums for Arturo SandovalWillie Colon and Spyro Gyra.

When playing his own music live he is surrounded by the Enclave which Oskar describes as “a musical play on words, the voice of a culture from within the boundaries of America, and a musical expression played en clavé. Our sound is a gumbo of jazz and funk, Afro-Caribbean percussion and urban street soul attitude.”

Other recent projects include playing on albums with Tito Nieves, Pete Escovedo, Andrae Crouch, Juan Gabriel, Sheila E. and the fun collaboration between Puerto Rican compadrés – Rumbantela, and playing live behind such varied artists as Justin TimberlakeWayne BradyPlaying For ChangeGilberto Santa RosaAll 4 OneWynona JuddJonathan Butler, just to name a few.

Josh Cohen

Josh Cohen is an electric bass player and composer of solo bass and other bass featured music. Having received his bachelor’s degree in music from Humber College, he is now currently attending York University for a master’s degree in music composition. His thesis is focused on writing compositions for the solo electric bass, drawing inspiration from the work of world renowned bass player composers such as; Victor Wooten, Jaco Pastorius, and many more. Josh aims at not only continuing this tradition, but exploring the possibilities of the solo electric bass even further and bringing this focus into the world of academia, a place that has never seen serious study on this topic but has been codifying the study of solo piano and guitar writing for centuries.

“Every instrument has the ability to sing and connect emotionally with an audience, not just a vocalist, but every instrument whether it be a violin, a tuba or a drum set. It is my intention to allow the electric bass to sing.” – Josh Cohen

Tony Grey

Born March 25, 1975 in Newcastle, England. Tony is a multi-instrumentalist, master bassist, composer, producer, published author and award-winning music educator; he studied at the world-renowned Berklee College of Music and graduated in 2001, receiving the prestigious ‘Outstanding Performer’ award. Tony is known for his 6-string electric bass technique, his blend of jazz/world-fusion compositions, and his groundbreaking music education curriculum and teaching Philosophy.

Tony has gone on to collaborate and perform with some of the world’s greatest musicians, such as: John McLaughlin, Hiromi, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Gavin DeGraw, Hotei Tomoyasu, Dennis Chambers, Bill Evans, Zach Alford (David Bowie/B52’s), Reeves Gabrels & Jason Cooper (The Cure), Zakir Hussain, Gregorie Maret, Gary Husband, Mino Cinelu, Brian Blade, Mike Stern, Karsh Kale, Wayne Krantz, Steve Lukather (Toto), Branford Marsalis, Shaggy, Ice-T, M-1 (Dead Prez), Melanie Fiona, Toby Lightman, Simon Philips (Hiromi/Toto), Dave Holland, Mark Guiliana, Kenwood Dennard (Sting/Miles Davis), Russell Ferrante (The YellowJackets), David Fiuczynski (Screaming Headless Torsos/Meshell Ndegeocello), Larry Watson, Fabrizio Sotti, Ada Rovatti, Jetro Da Silva (Whitney Houston/Patti Austin), David Garfield, Frank Mccomb, David Nichtern, Res, Raymond Angry, Gene Lake (David Sanborn), Dave Dicenso, Chris Dave, Oliver Rockberger, Falguni, Reb Beach (Whitesnake), Deantoni Parks, Lionel Loueke (Wayne Shorter/Charlie Haden), Naveen Kumar, and Christian Scott.

In 2004, Tony had the great honor of performing at New York’s Lincoln Centre with David Nichtern’s band ‘Drala’ for his holiness the Dali Lama.

In 2012 Tony set forth on his journey as a music educator and unveiled the Tony Grey Bass Academy, the first documented online Academy in Bass Education. The Bass Academy was initially intended to be a companion to his book ‘Tony Grey Bass Academy: Jazz Bass Method’; however, the Academy exceeded its initial vision and stands today as a complete and structured online music curriculum, designed to take players from the beginning of their journey through music, all the way to the very end and beyond, learning music creatively rather than mechanically. A groundbreaking philosophy developed by Grey, which now leads thousands of students to becoming the next generation of bass virtuosos.

Derrick Hodge

Two-time Grammy Award-winning bassist and Blue Note Recording Artist Derrick Hodge grew up right outside of Philadelphia in Willingboro, N.J. Within his formative years, Hodge pursued multiple styles of music as early as 7 years old ranging from gospel music to jazz and orchestral music, continuing his formal music education at Temple University, where he studied Jazz Composition and Performance. While attending Temple, Hodge uniquely became the first jazz major to participate in the Temple University Symphony Orchestra conducted by Luis Biava and New Music Chamber Orchestra.

During this influential time, Hodge began to show his colors as a “Renaissance” musician, with incredible diversity in musical tastes and abilities. Hodge played with such Philly Jazz greats as tenor saxophonist Bootsie Barnes and trumpeter Terrell Stafford, meanwhile reaping considerable session work with some of Philly’s finest modern R&B artists such as Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Floetry, and DJ Jazzy Jeff.

Throughout his early career, Hodge continued to show an adept proficiency and broad ability across numerous musical genres, and platforms. Ranging from orchestrations with Common and Kanye West for Common’s album Be, (which reached Billboard No.1) and production work on Common’s Finding Forever to winning R&B Grammys in 2012 and 2014 with the Robert Glasper Experiment as a founding member of the group. Hodge has always been held with the highest respect of his peers which led to roles such as the Musical Director for Maxwell for nearly a decade, continued work as a producer and writer for numerous albums, including co-producing Justin Kauflin’s album “Coming Home” with Quincy Jones, and several Blue Note projects along side Don Was, all while maintaining his solo projects and touring. Hodge has performed, written and/or recorded with artists such as Maxwell, Kanye West. Herbie Hancock, Q-Tip, Mos Def, Timbaland, Jill Scott, Musiq Soulchild, Gerald Levert, Common, Bilal, Lupe Fiasco, Andre 3000, Sade, Terence Blanchard, Ledisi, Terell Stafford, Donald Byrd, Stefon Harris, Bootsie Barnes, Kirk Franklin, Kenny Lattimore, Donnie McClurkin, and many more.

As a Blue Note Recording Artist Hodge has released two solo projects under the label, The Second (2016) and Live Today (2013), both albums being a rich, raw and revelatory artistic statement, having accessibility in mind to ensure that melodies soar and rhythms bump.

His writing and arranging accomplishments straddle both the recording and live arenas, from composing original music for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, to arranging for Nas and the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as composing the original work “Infinite Reflections” for the Chicago Brass Ensemble, and being a Sundance Composer Fellow. He has also directed and scored other projects from being co-Musical Director for the 2015 Triumph Awards and arranging strings for Mos Def’s 2008 premiere at Carnegie Hall, to writing for films such as Back to School Mom, the 180 Days Documentary Series, Land of Opportunity, Black Candle, The Army Recruiter and Uneasy Listening. Early film work includes When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts in which he did additional writing and scoring, as well as Who the $%@ Is Jackson Pollock?, and Faubourg Treme: A Story of Black New Orleans.

Ryan Madora

On a funny, personal note:

People frequently note the size discrepancy between the electric bass and me, a five-foot tall “not my first pick for the basketball team” female.  “That bass is bigger than you are!” they exclaim.

Believe it or not, I’ve got a good fifteen inches on most of my instruments, but I certainly appreciate and embrace the humor of seeing someone my size wield a massive gig bag through airports and all around town.  It is equal parts hilarious, curious, and mind-boggling.

All kidding aside, I’m used to it.  In fact, I never really noticed—I just decided to pick up the instrument and start playing.  As the old saying goes, the heart wants what the heart wants, and mine wanted to listen to Motown and play along to Booker T. and the MGs.

Down to business:

With a formidable start and an informal education on the Philadelphia blues scene, Ryan studied Music Business and Communications at New York University.  After graduating, she returned to Philly for corned beef sandwiches, Zydeco, water ice, classic R&B, and plenty of rock and roll.  A few years and many, many gigs later, she decided to take a leap of faith, throw her gear in the car, and drive to Tennessee.

Since moving to Nashville in 2012, she has had the privilege of working with some of Music City’s most talented artists and producers, including Bobby Bones and The Raging Idiots, Pat McLaughlin, Tenille Arts, Kyshona Armstrong, Alicia Michilli, Nicole Boggs, Fred Mollin, Lamont Dozier, Daphne Willis, and many others.

She is currently touring with guitar virtuoso Robben Ford, playing on various sessions, and teaching private lessons and clinics.

Thanks to good fortune, exciting phone calls, and many hours of practice, she has backed up artists such as Garth Brooks, Darius Rucker, Lady Antebellum, Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Marren Morris, and Hanson. Ryan has served as Musical Director for the annual “Bobby Bones and the Raging Idiots Million Dollar Show at The Ryman” to benefit St. Jude’s and has made appearances on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th seasons of the hit TV show “Nashville.”

When she’s not performing, you can find her at coffee shops writing columns for the online bass magazine, No Treble.