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BassPlayer 2017-05

BassPlayer 2017-05

36 bassplayer.com /

36 bassplayer.com / may2017

FOR SCOTT COLLEY, THE LINES SEPArating bass playing, composition, and improvisation are blurred. “Once a composition hits the page, that’s just the beginning,” he says. “Those are the seeds of what’s possible. Everything else after that is spontaneous composition. A song is living as long as we continue to play the tune, work with it, change it, and manipulate our musical options.” Colley cruises the upper echelon of the jazz scene. The ultimate bass sideman, he has worked with everyone from Jim Hall, Chris Potter, and John Scofield, to Herbie Hancock, Roy Hargrove, and Michael Brecker. Also a noteworthy bandleader, Colley has delivered several critically acclaimed albums in the past two decades. In 2017, Colley juggles a foursome of collaborative projects. At a recent workshop at the Conservatorium Maastricht in Holland, I talked with Colley about how he learned to play the bass, his work with the masters of jazz, and his current bands. What is your goal when you compose and play music? Music is never either only cerebral or visceral; it’s always a combination. Even when I listen to The Rite of Spring, where I hear a lot of intellectual structures, it still creates something within me that’s a feeling—a groove. When I’m writing and playing music, I want it to appeal on both levels— cerebral and visceral. You’re involved in several cooperative projects. Are you the bandleader in any of these groups? “Current” is the name of my band; I formed it in April 2016 when we played at the Village Vanguard. I waited until after we played a week together SCOTT COLLEY IS A MASTER OF COLLABORATION to start writing, so I could hear the bandmembers’ individual strengths. Tell us about your other co-led groups: KCB, Steel House, and your group with saxophonist Joshua Redman. I started a band with Joshua, Ron Miles, and Brian Blade called “Still Dreaming.” The concept is based on a group called Old And New Dreams, originally with Charlie Haden, Dewey Redman, Ed Blackwell, and Don Cherry. We play some of the music of the band Old And New Dreams, plus some new music that we’re all writing. Joshua’s father was in the original band. When Joshua and I played at the Charlie Haden memorial service, we came up with this idea. KCB is a group with saxophonist Benjamin Koppel and drummer Brian Blade. We just finished our second album, and it’s an ongoing project. In the fall, we will premiere a concerto for full orchestra based around improvisations of the trio. The music for orchestra is composed by Anders Koppel, a fantastic composer, who happens to be BY JOHN GOLDSBY Benjamin’s father. Steel House Music is the new band with Edward Simon and Brian Blade. We’ve recorded an album and we’re starting to make plans for some future gigs. West Coastin’ You grew up in Los Angeles in the ’60s and ’70s. How did you find the bass and get your start playing jazz? I had the benefit of my older brother’s record collection—everything from Earth, Wind & Fire to classic jazz, like later Miles Davis from the ’60s and ’70s. We were lucky to be in an area called Eagle Rock where they had a music program with an incredible band director named John Rinaldo. Monty Budwig was a West Coast bass legend. Tell us about your lessons with him in the ’70s. Monty’s stepson was in the high school band, and from the time I was 13, I got to study with Monty. He was a generous teacher, and my lessons would go three or four hours, and include dinner. The lesson would start with, “Have you heard this record … how about this record?” When I left, I would have a big stack of records, and he would tell me to learn certain tunes. How did you meet Charlie Haden and eventually come to study with him? After high school, I was preparing to go to New York, when I heard that Charlie Haden was teaching at the California Institute of the Arts. I didn’t know anything about the school, except I knew I’d get to meet Charlie if I auditioned. I didn’t think much would happen when I auditioned at Cal Arts. But at the end of the audition, they asked, “Do you want to go to school here?” bassplayer.com / may2017 37

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