Written by SFC Adam Ebert
I grew up in a musical family where I had to take piano lessons until I could sight-read hymns from my church hymnal. My father is a university percussion professor and one day he came home from work and told me that we were going to start a family band and he wanted to know if I wanted to play triple guitars (the baritone voice in a steel drum ensemble) or bass. Being 11 at the time, and not having a clue what I was getting in to, I decided on the bass. I immediately started taking electric bass lessons and within a few months we had our first gig. I had a great bass teacher who exposed me to a lot of music I had never heard. Eventually, he played Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” for me and I was immediately taken with jazz. Shortly thereafter, The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra came through town and I heard a professional big band for the first time–I was hooked.
Tell us about your earliest musical experiences.
I began playing upright bass at 13 in my junior high orchestra and began studying with the local university bass teacher at 15. I spent a lot of time practicing. I played with every group I could and often held jam sessions at my home with other interested teens who were serious about playing jazz. To this day I will be forever grateful for the GAM Foundation whose sole purpose was to fund an annual concert series at a downtown hotel where all the big names came through to play. I got to see and hear many of my heroes before they passed on and that was an important part of my musical education.
What were some of your most memorable performances prior to joining The U.S. Army Band?
Some of my favorite performances prior to joining The U.S. Army Band were with my family band playing a Christmas Concert before 20,000 people with Gladys Knight and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
What have been some of your most memorable performances with The U.S. Army Blues?
Since joining The U.S. Army Band in 2006, I’ve been able to perform alongside many of my musical heroes such as Terrell Stafford, Doc Severinsen, Conrad Herwig, Tim Warfield, Peter Erskine, and Ernie Watts among many others. In 2009 The Army Blues performed at The International Society of Bassists Convention (ISB) at Penn State University with special guest John Clayton. This was particularly special for me, because 10 years previous, I attended my first ISB convention in the young bassists program and had a chance to play an impromptu duet with John in a masterclass. Now here I was 10 years later sharing the stage with one of my major musical influences and heroes playing for a room full of bassists! The band sounded fantastic and the crowd ate it up.
I know that you have been going to school to broaden your musical experiences. Can you please share with us a little about what you are studying in school?
In December 2013 I will be finishing up a Master’s Degree in Composition from George Mason University. I have always enjoyed composing and arranging, but have delved deeper into it since I have been in the band as I have incredible groups of musicians at my disposal in The Army Band. In many ways I feel like I have an obligation to write, because your average composer would go to great lengths to een have such incredible musicians so readily available to offer their insights and expertise. I hope to further hone my orchestral orchestration skills as I have a great love for classical music and the variety of colors available in that instrumentation.
What are some of the activities you like to do in your spare time?
Outside of playing/arranging/composing music I enjoy playing golf, frisbee, tennis, and best of all, spending time with my wife and 3.5 year old son.