Ken Lister has been a professional jazz bassist since 1983. (Junos: 2012-The Phil Dwyer Orchestra; 1997-The Hugh Fraser Quintet). Ken’s career took an interesting turn in the 90’s when he lived off-grid on a remote island, raising his young family. From there he toured nationally and internationally. Now based on Vancouver Island, Ken teaches bass (and yoga) and continues to perform, record and tour. Some of the many great musicians he has played with include Don Thompson, Linton Garner, Ross Taggart, Ingrid Jensen, Steve Davis, Slide Hampton, Chucho Valdes, and many others.
What are some important musical and other lessons you've learned that you can pass on to aspiring bassists?
Music is infinite, so I've learned to embrace the endlessness. If you build a shoe rack, you gather the materials, put in the work and then proudly look at the finished product when it's done. Becoming a better musician is not like that - it is never a tangible finished product. The beauty of this is that it teaches you to enjoy and live in the process rather than focusing solely on the end result.
Rene Worst was voted Bassist of the Year by the BC CARAS Tribute to West Coast Music for the 4 years that the awards were given. Rene was co-leader of the now-legendary fusion band Skywalk with six CD’s to their credit. He has toured Canada with jazz legends Chet Baker, Gene Bertoncini and Joe Pass and on the international scene, has toured the former Soviet Union with Paul Horn. He is a virtuoso on both string and electric basses. Rene Worst has recorded and performed with numerous jazz greats, including Jack Sheldon, Tommy Banks, Herb Ellis, Freddie Hubbard, Ernestine Anderson, John Faddis, Don Thompson to name a few and has recorded and produced 7 CDs for musical partner, Jennifer Scott, one of the top jazz artists in Canada, including the highly acclaimed “ Emotional Girl“. He has also been featured as a session player on recordings by Jennifer Love Hewitt, David Bowie, Aerosmith and Poison, to name a few.
David Piltch's career began at age 17 playing on the bandstand with: Art Pepper, Chet Baker, Gil Evans, Ed Bickert, Zoot Simms, Kenny Wheeler, George Coleman , Lee Konitz, Sonny Stit, Art Farmer, Jack Sheldon, Cleo Lane and Herb Ellis. For almost 40 years he has been collecting experiences and tools that are useful to him as a player, writer, arranger and producer. He has recorded with artists including Holly Cole, KD Lang, Elton John, Randy Newman, Bill Frisell, Bonnie Raitt and many others. For the past 6 years, he has been the Musical Director for a series of concerts involving diverse ensembles and artists, with an emphasis on: live performance, improvisation and eclectic repertoire. The result of which is a vast library ranging from Hank Williams to Hoagy Carmichael to Sly Stone to George Bizet.
Toronto-born bassist Kieran Overs has been active on the Canadian music scene since 1970, first on guitar and electric bass, and for the past 34 years on acoustic bass. Overs holds an Honours Diploma from Humber College, a B. Mus. from Humber/BCOU and an M. Mus. from McGill University (Montreal). He has also studied privately with renowned Danish bassist Neils-Henning Orsted-Petersen and arranger Rick Wilkins. He has toured internationally with Moe Koffman/Dizzy Gillespie, Jane Bunnett, Sophie Milman, Carol Welsman and Emilie-Claire Barlow, among others. Overs is currently a member of The Nancy Walker Quartet, Ted Quinlan Trio and Inside Out (with Lorne Lofsky and Barry Romberg). To his credit Overs has 4 CDs as leader/producer and more than 80 as a sideman. He is an adjunct faculty member of the music departments at Humber College (Toronto) and Mohawk College (Hamilton), and is active as a freelance musician, clinician and bandleader. His current band is an all-star lineup of Canadian musicians, Overs’ Eleven.
Over the past two decades, eight albums and countless live performances, Jason Raso has shown that he not only has the skills to pay the bills, but more often than not, enough musical currency left over at the end of the month to make good on the debts other musicians have welched on. A Hartke Canadian Artist Search Winner (2010), Raso is a master of the four and six-string bass guitar whose music has been heard on public radio and jazz stations around the globe. Jason Raso’s latest album “Man of 40 Faces” features 11 new original compositions. Eight solo performances and three duets with legendary bassist Alain Caron, trombone phenom Wycliffe Gordon and brilliant vibraphonist Francesco Pinetti.
Michel Donato was born in Montreal on August 25, 1942. He began on the accordion at age 10, piano at 12 and then the bass at 14. He has performed and recorded with Sonny Greenwich, Oscar Peterson, Ian McDougall, Bruce Coburn, Dave Samuels, Bernie Senesky, Buddy De Franco, Gordie Fleming, Oliver Jones, Toots Thielmans, Bill Evans and others. He has written numerous scores for film, television and radio including "Omni Romance," "Le Marché du Couple" and "Les Muses Orphelines," for which he won Le Prix Jutras in 2001.
Multiple award-winning bassist and composer Dave Young is, without a doubt, one of Canada’s most valuable musical exports. The list of artists with whom Dave has shared the stage is a virtual “Who’s Who” of international jazz...including the late Oscar Peterson (with whom Dave had a thirty-five year musical relationship), and additional iconic artists Lenny Breau, Clark Terry, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Joe Williams, Oliver Jones, Kenny Burrell, Cedar Walton, Nat Adderly, Peter Appleyard, Gary Burton, Barney Kessell and James Moody.
Ross MacIntyre has been playing bass for over 25 years. He studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and got his degree in jazz performance from the University of Toronto. He's played with all sorts of great musicians from Canada and around the world. He can be heard on over 50 recordings, 7 of which have been nominated for JUNO awards, and one of which won for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year.
Toronto-born Will Jarvis is a busy freelance bassist and educator. Over his career, Will has gained a reputation as a very versatile player and is equally comfortable playing jazz, R&B, funk, jazz-fusion along with Brazilian and Cuban music. Will has performed with Tito Puente, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Paquito D’Rivera, Hilton Ruiz, Hilario Duran, Luis Conte, Dave Valentin, Steve Gadd, David Clayton-Thomas and Sinal Aberto. Currently, Will plays regularly with Manteca, Paul DeLong’s “Bucket Of Fish Orchestra” and Trevor Dick Band. As an educator, Will is on the music faculty at both Humber College and Mohawk College.
Marc Rogers is a Toronto-based session bassist, producer, and arranger. Some of the artists he has recorded/performed with are Rachel Platten, Nelly Furtado, Chantal Kreviazuk, Nikki Yanofsky, Norah Jones, The Philosopher Kings, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Lionel Richie, Bernard Purdie, K’naan, Al Jarreau, The Good Lovelies, Sarah Harmer, Gary Burton, Joe Lovano, Mike Stern, Mark Mclean, Robi Botos, Larnell Lewis, Terri-Lynn Carrington, Adam Rogers, Dave Binney, Holly Cole, and many more.
Double bassist, composer and arranger Duncan Hopkins has worked with such luminaries as Rob McConnell, Scott Hamilton, Houston Person, Warren Vache, Bobo Stenson, Mark Murphy, Dianna Krall, Kenny Wheeler, Sam Rivers and Edward Simon to name but a few. Recently he has been touring Europe with former Jazz Messenger Bobby Watson as well as Bruce Barth...
Wesley Allen is a creative, and award-winning bassist, composer, and educator, from Toronto, Canada. He has played with world-famous Juno and Grammy-award winning artists such as: Kellylee Evans, Molly Johnson, Jackie Richardson, The New York Voices, Andrew Craig..
JUNO nominated and National Jazz Award winning bassist Jodi Proznick has performed with many of the top Canadian and international jazz stars over the years and has been a featured jazz soloist with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Jodi’s vibrant performing life is coupled with her deep passion for music education. She is in high demand as a guest clinician and adjudicator.
Bassist/composer/producer Paul Novotny has created Juno nominated and winning recordings for Carol Welsman, Joe Sealy and himself. Paul has performed with Cedar Walton, Joanne Brakeen, Junior Mance, Kenny Wheeler, Lynn Arriel and Geoff Keezer as well as with singers Holly Cole, Molly Johnson, Jackie Richardson and Louise Pitre. Novotny and Sealy have performed in Canada, Scandinavia, USA and opened concerts for Charlie Haden/Brad Meldau, Herb Ellis/Red Mitchell and Michel Petrucciani. Paul has composed themes for CBC National News, CBC The Hour, with George Stroumboulopoulos, CBC News Now and scores for feature and documentary films.
Rich Brown has appeared on over forty recordings including his most recent as a leader entitled "Abeng." In 2012 and 2014 he was part of the faculty for the International Workshop in Jazz at the Banff Centre for the Arts. He has performed with Carol Welsman, Steve Coleman and the Elements, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Donny McCaslin and many others.
Calvin Beale is an in demand Live/Studio bassist who lives in Toronto. Calvin has recorded on various Juno award winning/nominated albums. Calvin grew up playing country, blues and jazz but spends most of his time since moving to Toronto playing urban-pop. Some of the artists he has worked with are Divine Brown, Kardinal Offishal, Maestro Fresh Wes, John Scofield, Steven Page, Kesha Chante, Jully Black, Orianthi, Matt Dusk, Snow Bryan Mcknight, David Clayton Thomas, Debrah Cox and Amy Sky.
Pat Collins moved to Toronto in 1988 and has been very active on the Canadian jazz scene ever since, performing with such luminaries as Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Henderson, Herb Ellis, Lee Konitz, Jimmy Cobb, Ed Bickert, Rob McConnell, Moe Koffman, Peter Appleyard, Diana Krall, , and many others. He has appeared as a sideman on approximately fifty recordings, and leads his own quartet that features Mike Murley, Reg Schwager and Barry Elmes. Pat joined the full time faculty of Mohawk College in 2005.
Neil Swainson has toured and recorded with George Shearing, Rob McConnell, Woody Shaw and many others. He has played on numerous recordings, five of which have won JUNO awards.
Justin Gray is a Toronto based bassist, composer, producer, and educator based in Toronto, Canada. His main influences include jazz, Indian classical and world music. Justin co-leads the Toronto based Indo-Jazz ensemble Monsoon, and contemporary jazz ensemble Gray Matter. Justin is also currently on faculty at Humber College, where he leads the Indo-Jazz Collective.
Vaughan Misener plays Electric Bass and writes music. He has done so in Boston, New York, Europe, Israel and Canada. Vaughan went to Berklee College of Music where he studied with Bruce Gertz and studied privately with Jeff Andrews in NYC. He has worked with some of the finest musicians of our time including Kirk MacDonald, Geoff Young, Barry Romberg, Vito Rezza, Ted Quinlan, Adam Rogers, Lorne Lofsky, and Mike Stern.
Jon is a bass player from Toronto. He has played / toured / recorded with The Tenors, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Dione Taylor, Kellylee Evans, Reg Schwager, Allison Au, Harley Card Amanda Tosoff, Eli Bennett and many others. He has appeared on dozens of albums in a wide range of musical styles, and has performed on many national radio (CBC metro morning, Canada Live, Jazz Fm) and television (Canada AM, Breakfast Television, PBS) programs.
Roberto Occhipinti has performed and recorded with a range of artists such as jazz legends Sam Rivers,Tito Puente,Jane Bunnett , popular music with Gorillaz,Andrea Bocelli, world music with Afel Bocoum and Jamey Haddad, and contemporary usic with Steve Reich,Tan Dun and Elliott Carter.
My next interview is with Canadian iconic bassist Alain Caron. I first heard Alain in Halifax in the 1980s with his group UZEB. That experience blew my mind and has been an inspiration to me to this day. He continues to inspire bassists worldwide.
This is the first in a series of interviews with Canadian bass players. The questions are geared towards practical advice for aspiring bassists, although I've quickly learned that all musicians, from beginners to pros on any instrument, will get a lot out of reading the responses. Don Thompson has long been a hero of mine and I'm thrilled to share his insightful and valuable comments.