Born: May 2, 1943 Primary Instrument: Bass
Emanating from a musical hotbed in Pittsburgh; his maternal grandmother performed in minstrel shows, and taught piano; she had graduated cum laude; taught English to Italian immigrants, and taught Mickey & his cousins Barbershop Harmony. Her daughter, Mickeys' mother also sang & danced. He was born, into all of this on May 2nd 1943... Lee Oddis Bass III.
A Pittsburgh born Bassist, who became, and is, a Major force on The New York Jazz Scene for more than 40 years.
In 1966 Downbeat declared him to be “A first rate soloist!” In 1970 Downbeat said “Definitely worth listening to! His melodious ideas are something to behold... While performing with the great Jimmy McGriff Essence Magazine cited him to be The Heartbeat of The Group and while playing with Freddie Hubbard, Lee Edwards found Mickeys' Ensemble work to be Nothing short of brilliant!
Mickey Bass has Played, and Recorded with; Bennie Green, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Kenny Dorham, Jackie McLean, Billy Eckstine, Johnny Hartman, Joe Henderson, Sonny Stitt, Ramon Morris, Reuben Wilson, Freddie Hubbard, Art Blakey & The ‘Jazz Messengers‘, Ruth Brown, Carmen McRae,Miriam Makeba, Gloria Lynne (for whom he also served as Musical Director for seventeen years) Hank Mobley, and Lee Morgan.
Teacher; ‘Bass’ “Jazz-Mobile, Inc.” 1965 to present An Organization founded by Dr. Billy Taylor, in 1965, who’s ‘Mission’ was; to bring free Concerts to the Neighborhoods’ and Communities’ of New York City…which they did .An Educational Program ensued: As Curriculum Coordinator, Mickey ‘shaped’ and ‘supervised’ the program, to; consistently elevate the level of Education, and awareness, made available to the General Public, through “Jazz-Mobile, Inc.”. Mickey’s Accredited College Curriculum, “The Diminished Whole Tone Concept” 2006 is currently being used at “Jazz-mobile”, as a ‘Model’ for other teachers to follow.
In recognition; of the importance of ‘Cultural Enrichment Programs’, in our Public Schools; Mickey taught at two Elementary Schools in East Harlem, one of which was for “intellectually gifted children”. As a result of observation, of Mickeys’ teaching; a Book was written, edited by Dr. Billy Taylor, and published through “Jazz- Mobile, Inc.”; “An Arts Enrichment Educational Program”, a teaching ‘primer’ for Elementary Education. This book is an intended ‘guideline’, to impart the fundamentals of Music.
Adjunct Faculty Professor; “Hartt College of Music”, Hartford. 1982 to 1985
Engaged by Jackie McLean, Chairman, to offer something vital, to students, in addition to their curriculum; from a working Musician, put in terms made tangible for them; Born of necessity; to impart to his students, the ‘meat’ and the ‘essence’ of this music; Mickey began to formulate and teach his Original Improvisatory Method,“The Diminished Whole Tone Concept”(c)2006, which was ‘accredited’ there, at “Hartt” as a 2 Year College course. In addition to this, Mickey also taught ‘Jazz Arranging’ and ‘Transcription’.
Teacher; ‘Bass’ “Ellington School of the Arts, Washington, D.C.” 1975 to 1978
Though initially invited to teach ‘Bass’, a 'Jazz Ensemble' evolved, and writing Arrangements for them... Mickey was re- engaged to; Conduct, Orchestrate, and Arrange; Music, for a Play entitled “Langston”; based on Langston Hughes’ life in Harlem, in the 1930’s.
Mickey Bass: “A particularly rewarding ‘role’, was functioning as Director of ‘The Jazz Ensemble’; for which, I did all the Writing, Arranging, and Conducting for the students. The Musical Repertoire was vast, and diverse and of course, included a ‘goodly’ amount of Ellington’s Music, which I especially enjoyed arranging. During this three year period, I had the pleasure of nurturing ‘The Jazz Ensemble’ to an eventual state of maturity and sophistication. This ensemble evolved to such a level of Musical Excellence, that what resulted was Producing a sound recording of the group. In September I was asked to return to Washington, to do a Television production with this ensemble; a ninety minute show, in two segments - the first based on Langston Hughes’ life in Harlem in the ‘thirties - a Play, set to Music, entitled “Langston”, played by former members of ‘The Jazz Ensemble’ (whos’ members, perhaps I should include, included Wallace Roney & Eric Allen).In addition to ‘arranging the score for the play, Mickey also arranged a fifteen minute Dance sequence,set to Duke Ellingtons’ Music, and played by current members of ‘The Jazz Ensemble’. It was called “A Night at Ellington”. I assumed sole responsibility for the Arrangement of the entire Musical format.
The T.V. Show, “Ellington, ‘Live’” was taped, for possible syndication.
The show was aired by W.E.T.A. as “A Night at Ellington.”
In 1979, The Show won an ‘Emmy’, for the entire Musical format.”
Mickey Bass also Wrote, Arranged, and Conducted a variety of Music; including some Ellington, and some of his own Compositions for; “The Ellington Jazz Ensemble”,who performed at “The Whitehouse”,as part of The Inaugural Festivities for President Jimmy Carter, in 1977.
He wrote & arranged; Four Octet Arrangements, for Chico Hamilton, and many Original Compositions.
His Compositions have been recorded by; Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley, Reuben Wilson, Art Blakey, Ramon Morris, George Cables, Ronnie Mathews, Richard Wyands, Rahn Burton, and are also featured on John Hicks’ “Piece for My Peace”, and on a tribute to Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines, “Fatha’s Day”. Mickey’s Compositions can also be found on his own Record Label; “Early Bird”, which he founded in 1990. Both Wynton and Branford Marsalis played in Mickeys’ Bands, before moving to play with Art Blakey. Mickey’s Compositions are amongst the tunes they cut their chops on, during their tenure with Art Blakey’s “Jazz Messengers”.
Broadcast; “Adventures in Jazz”; Interviewing; Mary Lou Williams, Randy Weston, and Leonard Feather, amongst others. Interviewing Mr. Feather, was a particularly interesting ‘turnaround’, because here was a Jazz Musician (Mickey), interviewing an established Music Critic, who, at that time was writing for “The Los Angeles Times”. The Interview is ‘archived’ in “Pacifica” Radio.
Presented; the T.V. series, “New York Art Exclusive” for Manhattan Cable T.V.
Volunteered; for “The Jazz Foundation of America’s” Annual Fundraiser, “A Great Night in Harlem”, at The World Famous Apollo Theatre, Harlem. Mickey worked at this event, for three consecutive years, as an Assistant Stage Manager. Also volunteered; at a Benefit for Woody Shaw, as Stage Manager.
A Synopsis of his Musical Career can be found in; “The Encyclopedia of Jazz”, for the ‘seventies,and the ‘nineties.
By the time he was nine years old, Bass had just about every record that ‘Bird’ ever cut, not to mention living in an atmosphere permeated by ‘Dizzy’, ‘Duke’, ‘Basie’, ‘Sassy’, ‘Billie’and ‘Miles’. These recordings were later considered ideal ‘Frisbee’ material by his younger brother & sister….little did they know!
In 1961 Bass entered Howard University, where he studied Bass with Bernard Mason.
He also discovered there a very definite bias against ‘Blues’ & ’Be-bop’; when he was ‘failed’ by a Teacher there•because he was practicing in a music room at the School…..playing Jazz. Classmates Harold Vick, Marion Brown, and Charles Tolliver all similarly suffered•nobody, at that time was allowed to play “Jazz” on the Campus.
In 1963•Bass got ‘Apple Fever’, and headed for New York City. In New York City, early ‘breaks’ came with Titan Tenor Saxophonist Hank Mobley, at the famous ‘Hotel Theresa’, Harlem. Mickey also played at the original ’Birdland’ with Sonny Rollins and Bennie Green. He first recorded with Lee Morgan, on the ‘Blue Note’ record label, “The Sixth Sense”….. Mickey Bass; “Originally ‘slated’ as “The Sleepwalker”, I was ‘subbing’ for Ron Carter-who asked me to ‘sub’ for him at Rehearsal for that Record date at Lynn Oliver Studio’s, where Blue Note Records always rehearsed for its’ recording dates….. Ron was unable to make the rehearsal the next day as well ( he was really doing me a favor I think, and getting me ready to be a new Bass player for the Blue Note Records ‘clique’, as well as he did when he was teaching at City College, by using some of my small band arrangements that Second Floor Music was putting out on the market.) (God Bless Him! ) eventually Lee Morgan looked at me and said “Look! Ron’s not here, you’re here and you know the music, and you’re on the Record! I happened to have one of my arrangements with me, which didn’t yet have a title, we needed another tune, and so..we played it.. and it, for lack of a better title, became known as “Mickey’s Tune”. So because my writing debut, stayed ‘in the can’ for 32 Years..and was eventually released in 2000 • my ‘Recorded Compositional Debut’ • has sometimes been referred to as; my “Recorded Compositional ‘De-Butt’!!!!” Mickey Bass, December 21st 2006
Mickey Bass is a man who is “Always a work in progress!”There is no future, without a past, as far as the Music is concerned.” Mickey will tell you, without the slightest hesitation, or reservation, that it was Jimmy Blanton, Oscar Pettiford and Ray Brown who were the men to first establish what modern Bass playing was to be about, that they were the Inventors of the time. Mickey Bass: “In those days, when I was coming along, you didn’t just walk up on the stand and play without having your stuff together, or you would find yourself ostracized, musically, and also socially. That’s the way it was, and it was beautiful because you were being silently instructed; You must play it right…or not at all.. Learn the music, learn your instrument and learn it right. Coltrane, Parker, Coleman, all of them spent many agonizing hours, toiling over their instruments and the music…they didn’t ’arrive’ at who they were by listening to recordings of others…..”
Mickey Bass: “I love ’Be-bop’ I grew up in it, and on it. I want to perpetuate it because there are a lot of Musical Architects who are no longer with us. There is no future without a past, as far as the music is concerned.”
Mickey Bass: “I believe in playing it ‘straight-ahead’, and I believe in playing the ‘changes’.”
All Great Musicians are, or have been 'Sidemen' in their Time.....It's in the nature of their Music... —->
Awards:A National Endowment for the Arts, Composer’s Grant, in 1980; with which he wrote a String Quartet with Jazz Rhythm Section and miscellaneous percussion.
This Harlem club is synonymous with the birth of bebop. Throughout the nineteen-forties, the cream of the jazz scene jammed with such upstarts as Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, and Kenny Clarke as a new music came into being. Closed since the early seventies, the legendary night spot reopened in the spring. Nov. 10-11: The bassist Mickey Bass, a hard-bop veteran, brings his Manhattan Burn Unit in to stir up new memories.
JAZZ IMPROV. NY Magazine, January 2007
“A seasoned and formidable Bass player, Mickey hasn’t missed a beat... His longevity and musical expertise has deepened and matured with time and experience. The genuine, uncontrived nature of this Music, and its' ability to provide a conduit to the souls of both performers and listeners alike can only serve to inspire.
THE WASHINGTON POST
MICKEY BASS & His Manhattan Burn Unit
Bass player Mickey Bass didn't shoot the Piano player...He just didn't bring one to his gig at the One Step Down. Nor was the instrument missed last night, what with the melodic bent of the Quartets' Leader and the pianistic approach of Vibist Steve Nelson.
The credentials of the four include work with Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard and Dexter Gordon, and it shows in the brightness of their compositions and their familiarity with the modern Jazz tradition.
Alto Saxophonist Bobby Watson dived from on high at the
first note of One For Trane and soared for five minutes or
more over the gale force of the others. Nelson combined
rhythmic boost with long flowing lines out of which surfaced
brief quotes from other tunes.
W. Royal Stokes
THE NEW YORK TIMES
“When Mickey Bass & The Cooperation get in the right groove, ( the ‘right groove’ being a loose, driving up-tempo) it is doubtful if there is a jazz group in town that swings as hard as this one.”
John S. Wilson.
The Mickey Bass New York Powerhouse Ensemble
"Live at the Jazz corner of the World"
Early Bird Records
Tracks:ONE FOR TRANE; SUITE 2C; SOUL EYES; SENSATION.
Personnel: Mickey Bass; Bandleader on Bass. John Hicks; Piano. Eric Allen; Drums. Antonio Hart; Alto Sax. Craig Handy; Tenor Sax.
"A no foolin' around Album, that catures the sizzle of a well done set!"
"The Mickey Bass Quartet"
"Another Way Out"
"Early Bird" Records
"But Beautiful", "Lust for Love", "Hippopotamus with Green Shoes On"
Personnel: Mickey Bass; Bass, Carter Jefferson; Tenor Saxophone, Steve Nelson; Vibes, Michael Carvin; Drums.
EXPERT RATING: 5 Stars.
"Bassist Bass, as Leader might be hard to find, but worth the search."
Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide
Mickey Bass & "The Co-operation"
"Early Bird" Records
"Caravan", "In A Sentimental Mood", "Alone Together", "Sagittarius Rising"
Personnel: Mickey Bass; Bass, John Hicks; Piano, Mickey Tucker; Piano, Michael Carvin; Drums, Oliver Beener; Trumpet & Flugelhorn, Ray Mantilla; Conga's & Percussion, Chico Freeman; Tenor & Soprano Sax.,Kiane Zawadi; Trombone & Euphonium.
Music By: Duke Ellington, Mickey Bass, Dietz & Schwartz
All Arrangements By: Mickey Bass
Expert rating: 5 Stars.
"Bass works out on 'Be-bop', with a vengeance!"
"Solid 'Bop' - 'Blues'."
"An Exceptional Debut Album, for which Bass has assembled a Formidable Line-up."
As a Side Musician
“The Sixth Sense”
“Blue Note” Records
Tracks: Sixth Sense; Psychadelic; Extemporaneous; Mickey’s Tune
Original Composition: “Mickey’s Tune”
Personnel: Lee Morgan: Trumpet. Jackie Mclean: Alto Sax. Frank Mitchell: Tenor Sax.Cedar Walton: Piano. Harold Mabern: Piano. Victor Sproles: Bass. Mickey Bass: Bass. Billy Higgins: Drums.
“Thinking Of Home
“Blue Note” Records
Tracks: Thinking Of Home; Justine; Gayle’s Groove; Talk About Gittin’ It
Original Composition: “Gayle’s Groove”
Personnel: Hank Mobley: Tenor Sax. Woody Shaw: Trumpet. Eddie Diehl: Guitar. Cedar Walton: Piano. Mickey Bass: Bass. Leroy Williams: Drums.
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers
Tracks: Song For The Lonely Woman; Kaku Aka; Child’s Dance; C.C.; Anthenagin
Personnel: Woody Shaw: Trumpet. Carter Jefferson: Tenor Sax. Cedar Walton: Piano. George Cables: Piano. Stanley Clarke: Bass. Mickey Bass: Bass. Art Blakey: Drums.
Friday the 13th at the Cook County Jail
Tracks: Freedom Suite Part I; Freedom Suite Part II; Green Dolphin Street; Cherokee; Everything Happens To Me.
Personnel: Jimmy McGriff: Organ. George Freeman: Guitar. O’Donel Levy: Guitar. Mickey Bass: Bass. Marion Booker Jr.: Drums.
As a Producer
The Reunion Legacy Band
on "Early Bird" Records
Tracks:"Getting Sentimental Over You", "Do A Funny Dance", "Avotcja", "The Juggler", "Brother Rick"
Personnel:Charles Tolliver; Trumpet,Gary Bartz; Alto & Soprano Sax, Grachan Moncur lll; Trombone, Mickey Bass; Bass, John Hicks; Piano, Billy Hart;Drums
Music By:Ned Washington, Gary Bartz, Grachan Moncur lll, Charles Tolliver, Mickey Bass.
Expert Rating: 4 Stars.
Live at the Connecticut Jazz Party
"Early Bird" Records
Tracks: HERE'S THAT RAINY DAY; PRELUDE TO A KISS; NEW YORK THEME; NOW'S THE TIME; MOANIN'
Personnel: Bobby Timmons: Piano. Sonny Red: Alto Saxophone. Sam Jones: Bass. Mickey Roker: Drums.
Music by: Johnny Burke-Jimmy Van Huesan; Duke Ellington; Charlie Parker; Bobby Timmons
Expert rating: 4 stars:
The Timeless All Stars
Time for The Timeless All Stars
"Early Bird" Records
Tracks: "Cedar's Blues"; "Dark Mood"; "Song for Thaddeus"; "Cruisin'the Bird"; "Coastin' with Bobby"; "Theme for Ernie"; "Firm Roots".
Personnel: Bobby Hutcherson: Vibes. Harold Land: Tenor Sax & Flute. Steve Turre: Trombone & Seashells. Cedar Walton: Piano. Buster Williams: Bass. Billy Higgins: Drums.
Music by: Cedar Walton; Harold Land; Buster Williams; Steve Turre; Fred Lacy.
Expert rating: 5 stars.
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New York, NY
Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
Teacher at Jazz-Mobile, Inc. 1965 to present
Mickeys Accredited College Curriculum, The Diminished Whole Tone Concept is currently being used at Jazz- Mobile as a Model for other teachers to follow.
Adjunct Faculty Professor; Hartt College of Music, Hartford, under the Chairmanship of Jackie McLean from 1982 to 1985.
Taught at The Ellington School of the Arts, Washington D.C. from 1975 to 1978.
Although Bass is my Instrument, my teaching Methods derive from my own Original, College Accredited Jazz Improvisation Method and can be equally applied on any Instrument.
"In the true Tradition of the Jazz vernacular, that has been passed down through the Generations; this Curriculum offers an opportunity for a Composer to shape his Music, in a very personal style."
Dr. Billy Taylor
Accepts Private Students.
Small Group Classes are offered.
Please contact me for more details.