Scott Colley

Bass – Jazz Institute, Advanced Package


cott Colley has been called “one of the leading bassists of our postbop era, and a composer-bandleader of quietly serious resolve” by The New York Times. Musical colleagues, like saxophonist Joshua Redman, praise him for being “one of the most musical bassists playing today. To me, he seems to have…this natural, intuitive, empathic sense of how to bring the most out of the other musicians and the music he’s playing.”

Colley, a three time Grammy nominee, has performed on over 200 recordings, eight of those as bandleader and composer. He is a first-call sideman, as renowned for his role in groups led by well-known headliners—John Scofield, Herbie Hancock, Chris Potter, many others—as he is for being part of all-star projects like “Still Dreaming” with Joshua Redman, Ron Miles, and Brian Blade; and “Steel House” with Edward Simon and Brian Blade.

Colley’s musical journey began in his hometown of Los Angeles. He was born in 1963 where at the ripe age of 11 he set his sights on the bass as his instrument of choice. At 13, he began studying with bassist Monty Budwig, and later, attending Eagle Rock High School, with John Rinaldo the school’s musical director. A full scholarship to the California Institute for the Arts (CalArts) greeted him after graduation. He focused on composition and jazz studies, while also studying privately with jazz legend Charlie Haden and classical bassist Fred Tinsley of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Before graduating Cal Arts, Colley’s reputation began to spread and he was tapped to tour and record with famed singer Carmen McRae in 1986; two years later, he graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree, moved to New York City, and toured further with McRae, and such headliners as Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Jordan, Jim Hall, John Scofield, Joe Henderson and Art Farmer. By the late ‘90s, he added stints with groups led by Joe Lovano, Toots Thielemans, Bobby Hutcherson, and Bob Berg to his resume, as well as extensive touring with Andrew Hill’s “Another Point of Departure” sextet.

The first decade of the new millennium—from 2000 to ‘10—saw Colley become a major player with international recognition, touring extensively as a member of Herbie Hancock’s working trio and a quartet with Bobby Hutcherson for five years, while continuing work in Andrew Hill’s trio and sextet, as well as the Chris Potter Quartet. In 2005, he joined “Directions in Music”, a collaboration with Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock, and Terri Lyne Carrington; performed in Pat Metheny’s acclaimed Trio; and took on teaching residencies globally.

It was during this period that Colley also stepped out as a leader and composer in his own right, recording and releasing five critically hailed albums in a seven-year run. His debut Portable Universe (1997), featuring a sextet that featured Potter and David Binney, was welcomed by the L.A. Times for “present[ing] an involved, emotional musical vision of contemporary life”, and “marks him as a bandleader from which to expect great things.” His newest recording Seven (2017) serves as an earnest, effective example of the personal and the musical becoming one, and is dedicated to a number of important mentors who have passed away recently, including Andrew Hill, Michael Brecker, Jim Hall, Charlie Haden, Fred Tinsley and Colley’s father.

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