Gavin Barras was born on March 2, 1981 in Kendal, Cumbria in Northwest England. Due to his tuition benefactors, Roberto Carillo-Garcia and Corin Long, he was afforded the opportunity to study music at the University of Manchester. Whilst studying classical music, he continued developing his love for jazz and received lessons from Steve Berry in jazz bass.
Barras notes his bass influences include Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, Wilbur Ware, Charlie Haden, Christian McBride, George Mraz, Hein van de Geyn and electric bassist Jaco Pastorius. Notwithstanding, he is heavily influenced by Chet Baker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Enrico Pieranunzi and Billy Higgins.
Performing around the world has lent his talents to play jazz festivals and clubs Ronnie Scott’s, Dizzy’s Jazz Club and the Royal Festival Hall with the likes of Tim Garland, Iain Dixon, Ed Jones, Neil Yates, Steve Waterman, Les Chisnall, Dan Whieldon, Zoe Rahman, Mike Walker, Stuart McCallum, Gary Boyle Luke Flowers, Dave Walsh and Eryl Roberts to name a few.
A founding member of the jazz quartet EU4, Gavin is currently a member of the Dan Whieldon Trio, Jadid Ensemble, Sarah Ellen Hughes Band, 6Pac Jazz Sextet, Nat Birchall Band, Matthew Halsall Band, Unfurl and Steve Plews Trio.
Keeping busy is not an option for Gavin having recorded as a leader his debut album in 2008, and a second in 20011 while taking the sideman chair on bass for recordings on three albums with the Matthew Halsall Quintet that required him to put on his composer hat. He has appeared on Jamie Cullum’s BBC Radio 2 jazz show, been involved in several live sessions for BBC 6 Music and for Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Show on BBC Radio One with both the Matthew Halsall and Nat Birchall Bands.
In between performing, recording and touring Gavin is committed to teaching and, in addition to a large portfolio of students at his home, he has worked as a tutor at the Dartington Jazz Summer School for the last five years and has been involved in Live Music Now as a member of 6Pac Jazz Ensemble delivering regular education workshops in schools, prisons, young offenders institutions and hospitals.
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Hilliard Greene was born on February 26, 1958. Taking up the double bass, his studies have been a thirty-year journey that included matriculating through Berklee College of Music and the University of Northern Iowa. His emphasis has been classical, jazz, blues, rock, R&B, tango and music of other countries and regions.
Hill, as he is known, was musical director for balladeer and jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott for 20 years. He has served as concertmaster for Cecil Taylor’s ensemble Phtongos and was a member of the Don Pullen Trio. His list of who’s who that he has performed and/or toured with include but not limited to Gloria Lynne, Jacky Terrasson, Rashied Ali, Leroy Jenkins, Jimmy Ponder, Eddie Gladden, Vanessa Rubin, Yoron Israel, Cindy Blackman, Electric Symphony, Charles Gayle, Jack Walrath, Don Pullen, Dave Douglas, Bobby Watson, Greg Osby, Kenny Barron, Joanne Brackeen, Carla Cook, Josh Roseman, John Hicks, and the Village Vanguard Orchestra.
Greene, as a bandleader, has released three albums with his ensemble The Jazz Expressions and a solo album titled “Alone”. As an educator, he is currently on the faculty of the Bass Collective in New York City and he teaches privately doing workshops and master classes in double bass and bass guitar for both children and adults.
Double bassist Hilliard Greene, whose concentration lies in Modern Creative and improvised music, performs widely in the New York City area in recitals, nightclubs, recordings, television and radio programs, in addition to throughout Europe, United States, Asia and South America.
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Darek “Oles” Oleszkiewicz was born on February 20, 1963 in Breslau, Poland. He had five years of piano lessons at the State Conservatory in his hometown, later learning guitar, electric bass and upright bass. As a teenager, he played pop styles of rock music, blues and jazz-rock and jazz. In the early 1980s he performed at numerous jazz festivals and national competitions. In 1983 in Krakow and was awarded the first place for jazz composition and a second for ensemble playing at the Youth Jazz Competition.
Subsequently, he joined saxophonist Ptaszyn Wroblewski’s quartet and in the following years worked with several bands. In 1988, he moved to Los Angeles where he received a fellowship at the California Institute of the Arts and studied with Charlie Haden. After his graduation in 1992, he taught at the Institute and has performed in Los Angeles Jazz Quartet with Chuck Manning and managed various jazz ensembles. He has been a lecturer at the University of California since 2002.
In addition to teaching, he worked with a number of American jazz musicians such as Brad Mehldau, Billy Higgins, Pat Metheny, Joe Lovano, Charles Lloyd, John Abercrombie, Bennie Maupin and Lee Konitz.
In 2004 he released his debut album Like A Dream, which he recorded with Mehldau and Bennie Maupin for Cryptogramophone. He was selected Best Acoustic Bass in the 2005 Reader Poll the European Jazz Forum. He recorded a duo album Raindance with Adam Czerwinski, and a trio album with Peter Erskine and Alan Pasqua titled The Interlochen Concert in 2010. Bassist, composer and educator Darek Oles continues to perform and record.
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Rick Laird was born Richard Quentin Laird on February 5, 1941 in Dublin, Ireland. He played music from a young age and enrolled for guitar and piano lessons. He started playing jazz after moving to New Zealand at the age of 16 with his father. He played guitar in jam bands in New Zealand before buying an upright bass. After extensive touring in New Zealand he moved to Sydney, Australia, where he played with many top jazz musicians.
He moved to England in 1962 and became house bassist at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London, where he had the opportunity to play with Wes Montgomery and Sonny Stitt among others. In 1963 Laird attended London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 1965 He performed with Victor Feldman and recorded on the Sonny Rollins album ”Alfie” and then went on to play in The Brian Auger Trinity and The Brian Auger Group.
Heading to the States, Rick enrolled in Berklee College of Music in Boston where he studied arranging, composition and string bass. He then teamed up with ex-pat John McLaughlin and The Mahavishnu Orchestra as a founding member to play electric bass until 1973, when the band broke up. Moving to New York he joined Stan Getz’s tour in 1977 followed by Chick Corea the next year.
He put out one album as a leader, Soft Focus. Today, he is a successful photographer as well as a private bass tutor and an author of a number of intermediate to advanced level bass books. Richard Laird, as he is known in the art world, in March 2009 came across a collection of photographs in a file cabinet that he had taken in years past. The legendary jazz artists like Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Elvin Jones, and Keith Jarrett are now a part of an online archive.
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Kent Kessler was born January 28, 1957 in Crawfordsville, Indiana and grew up on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He began playing trombone at age ten and when his family moved to Chicago when he was 13, he became intensely interested in jazz. While attending St. Mary Center For Learning High School, he began taking electric bass lessons and jazz theory in the middle of the 1970s.
In 1977 Kent formed the ensemble Neutrino Orchestra, spent a year in Brazil in 1980, took time studying off and on at Roosevelt University in Chicago; and formed a group called Musica Menta, which played regularly at local Chicago venue Link’s Hall.
Kessler began playing double bass in the 1980s and it became his primary instrument when he was asked in 1985 to join the NRG Ensemble, toured Europe, recruited Ken Vandemark, recorded for ECM Records and the two would go on to collaborate extensively on free jazz and improvisational projects such as the Vandemark 5, DKV Trio and the Steelwool Trio.
From the 1990s on Kent would work with the leading Chicago musicians such as Hamid Drake, Fred Anderson and Joe McPhee as well as several European musicians. In 2003, Kessler released a solo album, Bull Fiddle, on OkkaDisk. Kessler performs alone on nine of the twelve tracks and with Michael Zerang on three. The double-bassist who remains active is best known for his work in the Chicago jazz and avant-garde scene.
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