Taking into account the fact that I’m a music student and a security guard (part time), you should be able to guess that I’m not fabulously wealthy. Despite this, when I do come into a bit of cash, I can always think of about a 1,000 things I need. When I got my tax refund a few weeks ago, only two things, however, immediately sprung into my mind that I needed to splurge on.

Both of these things I heard tell about through Jason Heath’s podcast, Contrabass Conversations. Episode 50 featured Justin Locke, who was previously a member of the Boston Pops, and is the author of ‘Real Men Don’t Rehearse’. After listening to Justin entertainingly talk about his life as an orchestral musician, I made a mental note to purchase the book as soon as I got $15 in my pocket.


I finished the book a few nights ago and I absolutely loved it. It’s a quick, easy and lighthearted read. I think anybody could pick up this book and have a few laughs, to be honest with you–bass players, musicians in general, or even the complete outsider who hasn’t ever been to a symphony orchestra concert. In fact, I mentioned to my mom that I was reading this book that was full of funny gig stories. She seemed mildly interested, and asked to hear one. I was roughly half way through the book at this point, so I told her about the conductor and the rebellious percussionist. I don’t even think I did that good of a job at retelling the story, to the you the truth, but by the time I was finished, my mom had tears in her eyes from the laughter! True story. Check out ‘Real Men Don’t Rehearse’ which is available for purchase here.

The second thing that I needed to splurge on came to my attention on episode 55 of Contrabass Conversations, which featured part 1 of an interview with and music from Cincinnati Symphony principal bassist, Owen Lee. The interview was great, but what I enjoyed most was the music. The music featured was the Gigue from the 3rd cello suite by J.S. Bach, as well as the 1st movement from the Misek Sonata in E minor. I’d heard a couple of double bass recordings of the Gigue on bass, and liked them, but Owen’s really struck my fancy. Not only was I humming the melody for a week, but I wanted to learn the 1st suite (which I’m working on now) as quickly as possible so I could move to the 3rd, and learn that sweet, sweet Gigue.

The next recording featured the music of Adolf Misek. My first teacher, Phil Serna, had mentioned to me that the Misek Sonatas were some great pieces of music, but I’d never heard a recording of them. Once again, Owen’s tone, musical integrity and seemingly natural fluidity of sound struck me. Something about the tone of his bass and his straightforward and yet sensitive way of phrasing Misek’s wonderful melodies made me repeatedly come back to that particular podcast episode just to listen to the music. To my delight, I discovered that these were not isolated recordings, but were actually available for purchase on a CD Owen made in 2000 on the Boston Records label. The CD came in the mail from Amazon yesterday, and I loaded it onto my iPod not soon after!


As I write this, I’m listening to Owen’s music on my iPod in crowded cafe’. To my ears, Owen’s playing sounds like a unique cross between Edgar Meyer and my own teacher, Andy Anderson (both of whom I try to emulate in my own playing). I guess everyone has their own taste in what they like or don’t like in the bass playing they listen to. I can appreciate Gary Karr’s unique ‘laser-beam’ sound, but I favor the more mellow, fluid, and perhaps ‘earthy’ type of sound, which is what comes to mind when I hear Owen’s playing. I highly recommend readers check out Owen’s CD, which is available for purchase here.


As a final note to this post, I would highly encourage any readers out there who also happen to listen to Contrabass Conversations to support any guests that come on the podcast. If you enjoyed the Chicago Bass Ensemble interview, go check out their next concert. Maybe you liked the interview with Steve Reinfranck of SMR Double Basses–next time you’re looking to purchase a bass, maybe go and check out his shop first if you’re in the Chicagoland area. Just a suggestion!


~ by benjamin86 on March 18, 2008.

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