Instructors

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.

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 Zepellin, 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.

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.

Adam Nitti

Adam Nitti has been establishing his own voice amongst his contemporaries as both a bassist and recording artist for over two decades. He has released five solo recordings to date on his own Renaissance Man label which have drawn international acclaim, but he has also been notably involved as a bassist and contributor on a variety of projects covering multiple genres. As a recording bassist, he has also appeared on three Grammy-winning albums and another Grammy-nominated album to date. Adam has performed with Kenny Loggins, Carrie Underwood, Michael McDonald, the Dave Weckl Band, Steven Curtis Chapman, Jeff Coffin Mu’tet, Susan Tedeschi, Lincoln Brewster, the Justice League (featuring T Lavitz, Jimmy Herring, and Richie Hayward), Angie Aparo, Scott Henderson, Jon Anderson, Peter Erskine, Heather Headley, Al Green, Keith Carlock, Shane Theriot, Mike Stern, Chris Tomlin, Casting Crowns, Kirk Covington, Wayne Krantz, Marco Minnemann, the London Symphony Orchestra, Joe Beck, and many others.

Adam’s passion for the bass guitar has been matched in more recent years by his passion for sharing musical knowledge. In 2003, he co-founded the first-ever online interactive music school, MusicDojo.com.  MusicDojo allowed students from all over the world to access world-class instructors via virtual classrooms and gain valuable feedback and critique of their daily assignments on their own schedule. MusicDojo was unique in the way it offered convenient, high-quality online interactive instruction at the time of its launch, and ultimately helped to pave the way for other music educational sites to come online. Adam’s knowledge and experience gained from his involvement with MusicDojo ultimately led him to create AdamNittiMusicEducation.com, a membership-based online academy for bass guitar. Using an extensive curriculum-based library of HD video lessons as its foundation, the site also offers interactive options for those looking for an even more-personalized experience.

In addition to his work as a performer, composer, and online educator, Adam is also an adjunct faculty member of Belmont University’s School of Music and the Atlanta Institute of Music. He is also a bass clinician for Aguilar Amplifiers, Ibanez Basses, and D’Addario Strings, and is a staff instructor for both Victor Wooten’s “Wooten Woods” music camps and Gerald Veasley’s Bass Boot Camps. Adam is also a former columnist for Bass Player magazine and Bass Musician Magazine, and has made hundreds of appearances at such events as Euro Bass Day Italy, Bass Player Live!, Bass Day U.K., the Outreach Festival-Austria, Bassquake, and the European Bass Day in Germany.

Rob Smith

Rob Smith is a professional bassist, teacher, and clinician. He has taught over 25,000 lessons and has been an instructor at Gerald Veasley’s Bass BootCamp for the past eight years. He won the WMMR Building the Band contest and was previously named Philadelphia’s best rock bassist by Origivation magazine. Rob is currently performing and recording with Dave Weiner, Rob Balducci, and Matthew Landis. He proudly endorses Skjold Basses.

Richard Waller, III

Richard Waller, III was born and raised in the culturally-diverse city of Philadelphia, PA. His early recognition of loving music and the drums, as the instrument of choice, happened while listening to his father’s band rehearse in the basement of their home. Although he loved music at an early age he didn’t start playing drums until the age of thirteen. Richard went on to develop his skills as a drummer in his teenage years at Philadelphia’s prestigious Settlement Music School. In his senior year in high school he won a scholarship from The Rohm & Haas Corporation, which paid tuition for him to attend Settlement Music School’s jazz program. Also while in high school a teacher introduced Richard to a collection of pre-owned REP and keyboard magazines, which stimulated his interested in keyboard and recording. After high school he earned an Associates of the Arts Degree with honors from Philadelphia Community College. He furthered his Business of Music studies at Temple University.

After Richard’s education tenure, he hit the road playing with several musicians from various genres including Jamaladeen Tacuma, The Nate Wiley Organ trio and several R&B and wedding bands. Richard has toured with the likes of Owen Brown, The Intruders, Gerald Veasley, Music Report and now a band of collective musicians called “Supreem and The New Experience.” Over time he has also developed his skills to become a successful record producer and a multi-platinum recording, mixing and mastering engineer. Miles Davis and John Coltrane have musically influenced Richard.