I had the pleasure of being guest artist for the 2018 Las Vegas Bass Workshop last month. This annual event began nineteen years ago and attracts a crowd of 60-70 bassists from the Clark County schools. It is sponsored by the Nevada chapter of the American String Teachers Association, and it’s a great example of the high-quality string teaching taking place in the Las Vegas area.
About the event
This event was started by bassists Geoff Neuman and Brad Pfeil, and Ed Richards has been organizing in for the past several years along with Ryan Dudder and Tim Thomas. The staff this year consisted of Chris Davis, Elise Eden, Emma Glass, Trey Lawrence, Chad Mickey, Tyler Williams, and Justin Zeleski.
The event is organized like a mini-conference, with multiple classes running at the same time. It was kicked off in truly hilarious fashion with a duet rendition of “Oh, Suzanna” Ryan Dudder and Tim Thomas. This was a great way to get the crowd in good spirits for the day’s upcoming activities.
Audition Prep Class
The morning was filled with technique classes, rehearsals for the mass bass quintet performance, and electives. I’ve been doing a clinic revolving around the techniques I covered in my book Winning the Audition. I’ve enjoyed these opportunities to cover topics like centering, visualization, and adversity training. I find them fascinating, and I hope that the bass players learn some valuable skills.
We took the classic bass horde group photos outside after lunch. Lots of eating pizza, and running around, and happy dancing. Wearing short sleeves outside on this sunny January day makes me remember why I’m so glad that we moved to the West Coast!
After lunch, the recital kicked off with Ed Richards and Geoff Neuman performing a new duet by P. Kellach Waddle (more on him later).
I then played a program of some old favorites of mine plus a few new discoveries:
- Capriccio No. 2 – David Anderson
- Can’t Stop Running – Adam Ben Ezra
- A Las Vegas Triptych – P. Kellach Waddle
- Ode D’Espagne – François Rabbath
- Dúo para dos Contrabajos – Daniel Chiva Sanz (with Geoff Neuman)
About these pieces
I’ve played David Anderson’s wonderful Capriccio for over 20 years, and I must play it at least three or four times a year for various events. With tis power chord permutations and harmonic textures, it captures a wide range of characters and allow the bass to resonate in a really cool way. Check out my interview with Dave–he’s a great player and a fun guy.
This was my first time playing Adam Ben Ezra’s Can’t Stop Running in public. I was mesmerized the first time I saw Adam’s hilarious video, and I spent a solid two hours playing that video back and trying to decipher what he was doing. It’s a check of a lot of fun to play and is a great contrast to Dave’s piece. You can listen to my interview with Adam Ben Ezra here.
P. Kellach Waddle is one of the most prolific double bass composers out there. His music is filled with interesting textures and evocative imagery. He has written for Bert Turetsky, David Neubert, Michael Cameron, Jeff Bradetich, Francois Rabbath, Sidney King, Hal Robinson, Jessica Valls, Paul Ellison, and countless other bassists. He wrote his Las Vegas Triptych for me, and I premiered the first moment at the workshop. I’ve also interviewed P. Kellach Waddle at a past bass convention.
Next up was another familiar favorite of mine: François Rabbath’s flamenco-flavored Ode D’Espagne. This is another regular choice for me for educational events. It’s a great way to show off different techniques and tonal colors for the bass. I’ve also, of course, interviewed François Rabbath for the podcast (notice a trend?).
My recital wrapped up with a set of cool new duets (available from Recital Music) by Daniel Chiva Sanz. I totally love these duets, and playing them with my friend Geoff Neuman was a real treat and a great way to end this portion of the day.
Here’s a playlist of Dani playing these duets—great playing and camerawork!
The afternoon continued with more electives and repertoire classes. I got the chance to work with several students in a master class setting.
The level of playing among bass students is very strong in Las Vegas, and it was a treat to work with these young musicians.
The day concluded with a mass bass performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’ The Elephant, arranged in five bass parts by Ed Richards. What a fun way to end a great day of bass love! Las Vegas has got a great bass scene for sure, and I can’t wait to visit again!
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