Friday, March 15, 2013

12 Questions for Jamie Ousley!

Jamie Ousley perfoming at Arturo Sandoval's club in Miami
Jamie Ousley has been a favorite at Palm Coast Jazz on our podcasts and otherwise. A master of his instrument, he's one of the most in-demand bassists in Miami. Some of the world-class artists he's performed with include Ira Sullivan, Arturo Sandoval, Benny Golson, George Shearing,
James Moody, Dave Liebman, Maria Schneider, Vince Mendoza, Nestor Torres, Bucky and John Pizzarelli, Harry Allen and Bob Berg. His cds are a joy to listen to and filled with his appealing compositions as well as clever arrangements of standards, pop songs and classical works; all handled with finesse and dexterity by brilliant musicians. Finally - he's the nicest guy! We hope you enjoy our short interview, as well as the video & links underneath.

1) It’s clear from your albums that you embrace many kinds of music, including world, rock & classical. How did you get turned on to jazz?

I started playing jazz in my high school jazz band, but I didn't really even know what jazz was at that point. I really got seriously into jazz in college. I had the choice to go down the classical or jazz paths, and I chose jazz because it's always new.

photo by Jacek Andrzej Gancarz
2) Was bass your first instrument?

Violin was my first instrument, beginning with suzuki lessons at age 5. I switched to bass when I was 12, and I was lucky enough my public school program had orchestra.

3) A question for fellow bass players – tell us about your gear…

I play a 1983 Horst Gruenert double bass from Germany, which I feel very lucky to have! I use a fishman full-circle pickup and acoustic image amp. I just ordered one of those new DPA bass mics, so we'll see how that goes.

4) Name 3 albums that are currently getting a lot of rotation in your home or ipod.

Tony Bennett: The Art of Excellence
Fred Hersch Trio: Alive at the Vanguard
Hilary Hahn: Bach Partitas for Solo Violin

5) Who do you look to as the ideal jazz instrumentalist, bass or otherwise?

Ray Brown is my bass hero. Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden, and Sonny Rollins are my favorite improvisors.

6) Name a favorite rhythm section of yours.

Bill Evans, Scott LaFaro & Paul Motian. They pioneered and developed interaction and conversational aspects within a rhythm section. "Waltz for Debby" remains one of my favorite recordings of all time.

Jamie performing with jazz legend Ira Sullivan
7) What was your first professional gig?

I guess my first professional gig was with my high school rock band "Cataclysm." I think we made money? We played for an after-prom party at a YMCA... Our band slogan was "Music so bad, you have to spank it!"

8) So far – what has been one of the most memorable onstage experiences for you?

The first that came to mind was one particular night at Arturo Sandovall's old jazz club on Miami Beach with jazz legend Ira Sullivan. Brian Murphy was on piano and John Yarling on drums... I've played with this same band dozens of times, but this particular night I had the most profound feeling of being in the "zone" or groove, whatever you want to call it. I remember the experience as being almost like I was an observer and laughing at the fun musical banter John & Brian were having. It was effortless to play and there was no possibility that any note could have been wrong.

9) Does composing/ finishing pieces happen easily for you or do you labor over it?

Definitely not easy! Occasionally ideas (usually the best ideas) come easily and without effort, but even those take a lot of work and editing to finish. One exception is a song off my first CD titled "Epiphany" in which I purposefully sat down to write a song in one session, start-to-finish, in a stream-of-consciousness style, just accepting whatever notes popped into my head next. It took about 2 hours.

10) I consider all your albums “successful”, but “A Sea of Voices” did very well on the Jazzweek charts. Was this a surprise for you?

It was definitely a surprise, but it was also a goal of mine to reach the top 10. A Sea of Voices reached #8. . .so I guess I have to set the goal a little higher next time!

11) Do you have specific goals as an artist, or for the music you compose/release?

Philosophically, my purpose is to contribute to and touch peoples lives with my music. But I don't always think about that every day. My biggest practical goal is to become known well enough so I can travel the world playing music. I really enjoy experiencing other cultures - which is a great part about living in Miami.

Photo by David Schanzer
12) What’s coming up for you?

I just submitted a proposal for a grant at my university to make a bass & vocal duo CD, so we'll see how that goes. I have a couple of fun trips coming up. Next week I'll be in Costa Rica playing a Jobim Bossa Nova with Strings concert with vocalist Rose Max and the National Symphony. I'll be playing with Joe & Austin (the guys from my last CD) at the Nashville Jazz Workshop in April and in the Boston area in August.

We asked Jamie to supply us with a video of his choice. Here's what he had to say about the video below: "Here's a youtube video collage with my song "Loving Beauty" from A Sea of Voices. These are some of my personal photos over the past few years traveling, and the studio 'rough mix' from the session. . .it was a first take!"

Thank you, Jamie, for doing the interview, and for all your contributions to jazz in FL, and around the globe! You can enjoy full-length tracks by Jamie Ousley on episodes 7, 9 & 13 of our podcast: and you can treat yourself to his excellent albums at iTunes and Amazon. - PCJ

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