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John Goldsby - May 2004

John Goldsby
Biography: I was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. I played piano, guitar, and electric bass before taking up the double bass at age 18. My early musical experiences include work with hometown jazz greats Jimmy Raney, Helen Humes, and Jamey Aebersold. In 1979, I got the gig with the house trio at a jazz club in Louisville that brought in famous jazz soloists to play with the trio. For almost one year, I played with some of the legends of jazz including: Jay McShann, Buddy Tate, Johnny Hartman, Barney Kessel, Tom Harrell, Dave Liebman, Buddy DeFranco, and others. When this gig ended, I knew I had to move to New York. In 1980, I put the bass in the car and made my move. From 1980 to 1994, I lived in New York City and was an active fixture on the New York jazz scene, performing everywhere from Carnegie Hall to the nightclubs of Greenwich Village to concert stages around the world. After moving to New York, I found myself in good company with all of the other young players on the scene. My first experiences with the established New York elite included gigs with Albert Dailey, Sal Nestico, John Hicks, Benny Bailey, and Bob Wilber. Since 1994, I have been a member of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk Big Band (The Cologne Radio Big Band). I am actively involved in the jazz scene as a bassist, bandleader, composer, teacher, clinician, and author.

The Jazz Bass Book is my most recent book, documenting jazz bass players and their techniques from a historical perspective. This first-of-its-kind work is filled with transcriptions, historical and technical information, and discographies. A play-along cd is included for the reader/student to use with written etudes, patterns, scales, and improvised solos and bass lines. Also on the cd are several performance tracks for listening or play-along. The recording features me on bass along with the masterful assistance of Bill Dobbins (piano) and Hans Dekker (drums).

I have written two other instructional method books, Bowing Techniques for the Improvising Bassist and Bass Notes. Since 1990, I have been a featured writer for Bass Player Magazine with my columns "The Tradition", "Mastering Jazz", and "Jazz Concepts."

I am currently teaching at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen, Germany. In the past, I have taught at the Cologne, Germany Musik Hochschule, William Paterson College, Long Island University, and Columbia University. I also teach at Jamey Aebersold's Summer Jazz Clinics, and I have recorded many educational jazz records for Mr. Aebersold.

Gigs: I am currently working with the WDR (Westdeutscher Rundfunk) Big Band on projects with artists such as Clarke Terry, Gary Bartz, Eddie Henderson, Phil Woods, Mike Manieri, Jon Faddis, Alex Acuna, Paquito D'Rivera, Jack Walrath, Bernard Purdie, Gil Goldstein, Christian McBride, John Clayton, Peter Erskine, Jeff Hamilton, John Riley, Dennis Makrell, and arrangers such as Bill Holman, Vince Mendoza, Bob Brookmeyer, and Bill Dobbins (Dobbins is the main conductor).

Other notable performances include "The Tonight Show" with Claude Bolling and Hubert Laws, the Grammy-Award winning soundtrack for "The Cotton Club", and work with Wynton Marsalis, Gunther Schuller, Lionel Hampton, and the Smithsonian Masterworks Orchestra. I have performed at the JVC Jazz Festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival, and the Odessa Jazz Festival among others in addition to tours of Europe, Japan, Canada, and the United States.

I received jazz performance grants from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1988, 1990, and 1993. The "John Goldsby Plays Oscar Pettiford" concert which was funded by the 1990 grant received much critical acclaim from the New York Times, Jazz Times, and the Village Voice.

Recordings: In December, 2000, I went into Topaz Studios in Cologne to record Viewpoint, my most recent recording as a leader for Nagel Heyer Records. The music is a combination of original material and standards, featuring some of the best musicians on the scene today: Frank Chastenier, Hans Dekker, Olivier Peters, John Marshall, and Hayden Chisholm.

Tale of the Fingers (Concord Records) is the premier recording of the John Goldsby Quartet. The other musicians on this recording are Bill Mays (piano), Terry Clarke (drums), and Andy Fusco (alto). This recording features two original compositions as well as rare works by Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Oscar Pettiford, Paul Chambers, and Sam Jones. A highlight of the recording is "Three Short Stories for Bass and Piano" by Bill Mays.

The WDR Big Band records constantly and is featured on several current releases such as: Patti Austin's For Ella, Big Band Time from Paquito D'Rivera (featuring my duet "Basstronaut" with electric bassist Oscar Stagnaro), The Latin Jazz Suite, Esparanto, The Jazz Mass, Jazz Goes To The Movies, Gillespiana, Bullit, and Mannix from Lalo Schifrin, Pussy Cat Dues with Bill Dobbins, Kevin Mahogany, Charles McPherson, Jimmy Knepper, and Dennis Mackrel, Better Get Hit In Your Soul with Bill Dobbins, Jack Walrath, and Miles Griffith, Eddie Harris' The Last Concert and probably the most representative recording of the WDR Big Band, Prism - The Music of Bill Dobbins and Peter Erskine.

I have recorded with many world-class musicians including Scott Hamilton, John Lewis, and the American Jazz Orchestra. The John Goldsby, Peter Erskine, Bill Dobbins Trio recently recorded Cologne (Fuzzy Music). Off Broadway is the title of the highly-acclaimed release with Frank Vignola on Nagel Heyer Records. The Shimmering Colours of Stained Glass and The Underwater Poet with Hubert Nuss, Ups and Downs with Ludwig Nuss, Tesoro with Rolf Roemer, All John with Hans Peter Salentin, and guitarist Joachim Schoenacker's Common Language are among recently released recordings that feature myself. Behind Closed Doors with Peter Erskine, The Chase with Randy Sandke, An Ellington Affair with Bill Mays, Big Man's Blues with Andy Fusco, and The Return of the Great Guitars (Herb Ellis, Larry Coryell, Mudell Lowe, and Charlie Byrd) are among other noteworthy recordings. Three critically acclaimed records with the Frank Vignola Trio are Appel Direct, Let It Happen, and Look Right, Jog Left.

Gear: I regularly use three different acoustic basses: a 3/4 German bass about 50 years old, a 7/8 French bass about 150 years old, and a 7/8 5-string made by a local German maker by the name of Elbin. They all have their own special thing, and I like them all. The least-expensive bass, the 50 year old German, is the easiest to amplify. The other basses have incredible, huge amplified sounds, but they are ultimately harder to bring across in a live playing situation. I like to play acoustically when the situation permits. If the sound system in the hall is good, I'll mic the bass and have a little coming back through the monitor. At the WDR, I use a Glockenklang Bass Art top and bottom. It is incredible from an electronic standpoint. It is by far the truest bass amplifier I have ever used. It is, of course, made in Germany.

Contact Information: Visit my web site at for more information.