CBC 217: Jerry Fuller on early music, creativity, and business world lessons

Double bassist and early music specialist Jerry Fuller

Double bassist and early music specialist Jerry Fuller

Today’s episode features double bassist Jerry Fuller.  I’ve known Jerry for well over a decade at this point and have found him to be such an interesting person.  Jerry is best known in the music world for his work in period performance—in fact, he won an award for historically informed performance from the International Society of Bassists in 2015, and he is also a former ISB board member.

We cover Jerry’s early years in music, attending Northwestern in bass studio of rock stars including Hal Robinson, Curtis Burriss, and Rufus Reid, and his time spent performing in the bass section of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and in Switzerland.  While he was in Lyric, Jerry attended business school at the University of Chicago and has worked for most of his professional life in the world of business while simultaneously keeping up an active musical life, and we talk about his what prompted this decision to attend business school and what his experiences in that world have been like.

We get into details about how period performance differs from modern technique, how players can explore the world of period playing, and the role of the bass player in the continuo.  We also have a great discussion on creativity in music and answer listener questions from Gaelen McCormick and Dan Carson.

Jerry has gotten into traditional jazz recently, and we’ll open up the episode with an excerpt featuring Jerry performing C’est si Bon, and we’ll close with a duet by Bernhard Romberg with Richard Hirschl on cello.

Links to check out:

Interview Highlights

Early Years and Career

  • grew up in Wisconsin – inspiring encounter with Roger Ruggeri of the Milwaukee Symphony
  • accepted into Northwestern University bass studio with Warren Benfield
  • joined Lyric junior year of college, promoted to assistant principal
  • enrolled in business school at University of Chicago while still playing in Lyric
  • went to work for American Hospital Supply Corporation and found an amazingly creative group of people there
  • joined orchestra in Switzerland

Early Music

  • physical and mental differences in early and modern playing
  • what instrument really “drives the bus” in continuo playing
  • outlets for learning more about early music performance
  • switching between early and modern setups

Careers and Creative Outlets

  • personality and temperament play a huge role into us figuring out what we should do in the world career-wise
  • temperament over skill level
  • creativity in music and life

CBC 216: Todd Coolman on jazz bass lines, recording projects, and classical foundations

Jazz double bassist Todd Coolman

Jazz double bassist Todd Coolman

Today’s podcast features an interview with Todd Coolman, who has just released his latest album Collectibles.  Todd is actually playing a CD release event tonight at Smoke Jazz Club in New York City to celebrate the release of the album, which also features Bill Cunliffe on piano and Dennis Mackrel on drums.  This is the second time Todd has appeared on the podcast—you can hear his interview with Win Hinkle in our archives.

Todd and I cover all sorts of interesting topics in this interview, including his experiences moving from a full-time faculty position down to part-time and the opportunities that opens up for him.  We talk about his classical foundation on the bass and dig into classical and jazz crossover and how lessons learned in one genre are valuable in the other.  We also talk about skills the modern music student needs to be successful and what colleges can do to help facilitate this, and we get into details about recording this new album.

If you enjoyed this episode, check out our interviews with Carlos Henriquez, Chuck Israels, Larry Gray, Ron Carter, Lynn Seaton, and Rufus Reid!

CBC 215: Robin Kesselman on audition strategies, injury recovery, and bow arm practicing

Houston Symphony principal bassist Robin Kesselman

Houston Symphony principal bassist Robin Kesselman

Today’s episode features Houston Symphony principal bassist Robin Kesselman.  Robin studied with David Allen Moore and Paul Ellison at the Coburn School of Music and the University of Southern California, and with Hal Robinson and Edgar Meyer at the Curtis Institute of Music.  He has also performed as Guest Principal Bass with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, travelled internationally with both the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and performed with the National, Atlanta, and Baltimore Symphonies.

During Robin’s time at USC, he sustained a playing injury that took him out of commission for a prolonged period.  We dig into how Robin ultimately recovered from this and how it changed his approach to practicing and performing on the bass, and how he practiced while he was out of commission.  This was a left arm injury, and Robin continued to practice open string and harmonics with the bow, going into his lessons and working on the Bottesini Concerto on open strings.  We also discuss how Robin approaches the audition process: his preparation strategies, his musical goals for an audition, and using visualization techniques.

We also feature excerpts from Krzysztof Penderecki’s Duo Concertante with Eunice Kim on violin.  Enjoy!

Interview Highlights

Discoveries During Playing Injury:

  • sitting in practice room – “this hurts, but it also still sounds bad” – the mistake of pushing through pain
  • this time spent not using his left hand ultimately took his bow game to a new level – he spent large amounts of time just practicing with the right hand – playing solos and excerpts on open strings / harmonics in lessons!
  • “the building blocks with which I was making my shapes were not completely honest” – referring to the bow arm
  • mental practice / visualization – he got into this during this time period
  • learning the difference between an ache and something more serious

Thoughts on Auditioning:

  • there’s nothing that isn’t practicable
  • timing and pulse
  • mathematical pulse/note division vs. feeling right
  • the fallacy of perfect audition rounds
  • similarities between prepping for an audition and a recital
  • auditions have to be an artistic endeavor and about musical expression
  • if you walk out and your whole goal is to play notes that are even and in tune, the second that one note isn’t exactly the same as another note you officially have nothing left to offer, because your single goal has crumbled
  • if your goal is to make lines and to make shapes and be expressive, it’s ok if one note is a little shorter than the others
  • philosophy from David: as soon as you come in and things are in tune and in time, you are officially at zero

The Audition Process in Detail:

  • record constantly during this whole process -throughout the whole day
  • first 50% of the interval
    • really hibernate and work things super slow – considerably under 50% tempo
    • move something up 40 clicks over a period of weeks
    • A and B lists that kind of parallel each other (one Mozart Symphony on one and one on the other, for example)
    • doesn’t play for anyone during this time – nothing’s put together – it’s all really cut up at this point
  • next 25%
    • buff out the edges, smooth out the music, give it a shine
    • playing with recordings, getting the flow right
  • last 25%
    • take the show on the road, play for anybody and everybody, start setting up mock auditions and lessons with other (non-bass) instrumentalists
  • the last week
    • go back to “hibernating”
    • stop playing for people – running rounds – 4-5 excerpts in a row
  • hours wise it’s similar through he whole process, but the hours are being used differently
  • all the way until audition time, there was never a day/time when he could not continue to make things better
  • have a specific game plan for those 20 minutes of warm-up once you arrive at the hall
  • bass players don’t hire bassists – committees of other instrumentalists do

CBC 214: Terry Plumeri tribute

Today’s episode is a tribute to bassist, film composer, and conductor Terry Plumeri, who was found murdered in his home in Florida on April 1st of this year.  This episode features comments from former Terry Plumeri student Eric Swanson plus some recordings of Terry performing and conducting.  Learn more about Terry’s bass playing in this For Bass Players Only article.

Tracks featured:

bassist, composer, and conductor Terry Plumeri died on March 31, 2016

bassist, composer, and conductor Terry Plumeri died on March 31, 2016

CBC 213: Leon Bosch – the Sherlock Holmes of the double bass

double bass virtuoso Leon Bosch

double bass virtuoso Leon Bosch

Leon Bosch is a remarkable figure in the world of the double bass.  From his early years growing up in South Africa to his long tenure with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and his proliferation of solo projects, Leon has approached each challenge with a focus and determination that are incredibly inspiring. This is a “must listen” episode for any musician eager to realize their greatest potential.

After retiring from the Academy of St Martin in the Fields to devote himself fully to solo, chamber, and conducting projects, Leon has been working to bring undiscovered treasures of the repertoire to light and to encourage new works for the double bass from composers. New composition are being written for Leon from South African composer Péter Louis van Dijk, British composer Paul Patterson, and American jazz icon Wynton Marsalis.

This episode is sponsored by Discover Double Bass, and they have a course on bowing technique with Lauren Pierce that I highly recommend checking out.  This course is divided into 37 HD lessons, and Lauren gives a short video overview of the three categories that these videos cover: the basics, bow control, and real world techniques.  There’s also a free preview lesson on phrasing with the bow—check it out!

We feature excerpts from Leon’s latest album throughout the episode.  Check out Leon’s excellent albums (available both as digital downloads and CDs):

 If you’re enjoying these episodes, I’d love it if you’d give us a quick review on iTunes!  These reviews help us with discoverability and they give me great feedback about how I can keep working on the podcast to make it as valuable as possible for you.  Leave a quick star rating and if you could even jot down a sentence or two that would be great.  You can also leave a review for our iOS, Android, and Kindle apps.

CBC 212: Real Men Don’t Rehearse with Justin Locke (from the archives)

bassist, author, speaker, and playwright Justin Locke

bassist, author, speaker, and playwright Justin Locke

Today’s episode features an entertaining couple of conversations that I had a few years ago with bassist, author, speaker, and playwright Justin Locke.  These have been some of our all-time most popular and commented upon episodes, and bringing them back into the spotlight seemed like a good idea.

Justin has written several books, including:

About Justin

Justin Locke came to Boston at age 18 to go to music school, and within a year he found himself playing every freelance gig in town, including the Boston Pops.

His 18-year bass-playing stint with the Pops included the Bicentennial Concert in 1976 with Arthur Fielder, which is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest audience ever at a classical music concert. And of course he also worked with many of the great conductors of that era, including Leonard Bernstein, John Williams, and Henry Mancini.

One day, after playing (and criticizing) a particularly dull children’s concert, Justin was challenged to write one himself. The result was Peter VS.the Wolf, a courtroom comedy based on the classic Prokofiev fairy tale.

Justin’s work in other facets of “show business” continued to expand. Already a playwright and publisher, he then became a video producer, the “score reader” for live Boston Pops TV broadcasts, and manager of the Bose Philharmonic. His books, including his laugh-out-loud Pops Memoir “Real Men Don’t Rehearse,” have sold thousands of copies.

Justin is now a management coach and speaker. He shares what the music business taught him about managing people, through his presentations, individual coaching sessions, his blog, and his books.

CBC 211: Madeleine Crouch on managing the ISB, organizing conventions, and innovating online

International Society of Bassists general manager is today's featured guest!

International Society of Bassists general manager is today’s featured guest!

Today’s episode features Madeleine Crouch, who has served as general manager of the International Society of Bassists for the past 25 years.  Madeleine and I talk about her musical background, the value of a liberal arts education, the growth of the ISB over the years, and new developments for the organization like the ISB/George Vance Online Research LibraryOnline Journal of Bass ResearchISB Connectteacher directory, and luthier directory.  We also give a sneak preview of the 50th anniversary convention which will take place at Ithaca College in upstate New York.  Enjoy!

Summer camps we cover post-interview:

Blog post I talk about:

How I’m Doubling My Productivity and Increasing My Happiness

CBC 210: Jeremy Attanaseo plays the Prokofiev Quintet

Elgin Symphony assistant principal bassist and DePaul University faculty member Jeremy Attanaseo

Elgin Symphony assistant principal bassist and DePaul University faculty member Jeremy Attanaseo

I’m thrilled to present this complete performance of the Prokofiev Quintet featuring DePaul University faculty member Jeremy Attanaseo on double bass.  This performance was broadcast live in February on the radio in Chicago with the International Chamber Artists.   I’ve known Jeremy for years—we both play in the Elgin Symphony and used to play in a bass quartet along with Michael Hovnanian of the Chicago Symphony.  Jeremy’s a great guy and a great bassist, and I know that you’ll enjoy this performance of one of the greatest pieces in the double bass chamber repertoire!

Violin: Ellen McSweeney
Viola: Dominic Johnson
Bass: Jeremy Attanaseo
Clarinet: John Bruce Yeh
Oboe: Anna Velzo

CBC 209: Joe Conyers on Curtis, being yourself, and musical entrepreneurship

Philadelphia Orchestra assistant principal bassist Joe Conyers is featured on today's podcast

Philadelphia Orchestra assistant principal bassist Joe Conyers is featured on today’s podcast

I’m thrilled to bring you this episode featuring Joe Conyers.  Joe is the assistant principal bass for the Philadelphia Orchestra and is the founder of Project 440, a nonprofit organization that brings music to young people in Philadelphia.  We’re joined on this episode by John Grillo, my longtime podcast collaborator.

John and I talk with Joe about topics such as:

  • growing up in Savannah
  • studying with Hal Robinson at Curtis
  • the audition circuit
  • becoming comfortable with your own playing
  •  the mission of Project 440
  •  conducting Philadelphia’s All-City Orchestra


CBC 208: Guy Tuneh on transcriptions, live performance, and musical curiosity

Soloist and chamber musician Guy Tuneh returns to the podcast

Soloist and chamber musician Guy Tuneh returns to the podcast

Today’s episode features soloist, chamber musician, and recording artist Guy Tuneh.  Guy was on the podcast way back in 2007, and a lot has changed for him in the intervening years.  His previous interview was one of our most popular episodes of all time, and in this talk we go even deeper, digging into why Guy makes music, how he approaches every single note he plays, and what motivates him to search out new repertoire and bring it to the double bass.

Guy has been working on several new recording projects, and we feature two of them today.  We are including an excerpt from Beethoven’s Romance in G Major before the interview, and we close out the episode with a complete track of Guy performing Bach’s Allemande from the Violin Partita in D minor.

You can learn about Guy’s upcoming solo appearances, recordings, and other details at his website guytuneh.com and on his Facebook page.  We also have a video version of this episode on YouTube.  Enjoy!