Time to Climb the Bass Summit

Rob Thorsen brings five virtuosos of the acoustic bass to town for a celebration of the low end

"People think of the bass as a kind of boring background instrument," jazz bassist Rob Thorsen said, “just going boom-bomb, boom-bomb -- but in San Diego we have so many players that are fiercely creative. It’s not a background instrument at all.”

Thorsen decided to showcase the eclectic range and versatility of the Southern California acoustic bass world several years ago with a concert featuring the area’s most notable players, and after a hiatus in 2012, Bass Summit returns on Nov. 24, at Dizzy’s, in Pacific Beach.

This year the summit will feature two contrabass pioneers, two noted classical performers and two jazz specialists, although there’s a considerable crossover with all of these players.

“I really dig how eclectic we all are,” said Thorsen, referring to the lineup. “We’ve got Bert Turetzky, Marshall Hawkins, Jory Herman, Barry Green, Katie Thiroux and me, and we’re all very different players.”

Turetzky is a giant in the classical and free-jazz world, a man who has had more than 300 composers write pieces for him.

"Bert is so much fun," Thorsen said. “He has so much history and great stories to tell. He’s an inspiration. I admire how he just has the balls to go for it. He’s fearless.

Coming down from the community of Idyllwild to perform, Hawkins is another legend. He began his career in 1964 with Shirley Horn and spent significant time with the iconic Miles Davis and Pharoah Sanders, to name just a few.

"I’m so honored that he’s into doing this," Thorsen said, “his credentials are untouchable, yet he’s so humble. He’s also supersophisticated, and has a great inner sense of sonic musicality."

Green moved to San Diego recently. He is the former principal bassist of the Cincinnati Symphony and the author of the best-selling The Inner Game of Music.

"Barry’s deep -- kind of off the grid -- not too traditional," Thorsen said. "He’s going to be doing a duo with pianist Paul Kenyan."

Herman plays with the San Diego Symphony and also performs in chamber and solo settings, in addition to teaching. He recently performed the famous Bach Cello Suites on the double bass.

"Jory’s also into multimedia," Thorsen said, "although he won’t be doing any of that on Sunday. I think he’s doing a duo with a violinist."

Finally, LA straight-ahead jazz player Thiroux will be making her Bass Summit debut.

"I totally love and admire Katie," Thorson said. "You don’t see that many women playing the instrument and totally throwing down like she does, playing with a 'take the bull by the horns' attitude and really kicking ass."

If catching six of the finest bassists isn’t enough for you, be advised that local piano phenomenon Joshua White and drum master Duncan Moore will be accompanying for a good portion of the evening. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Don’t miss it!

 Robert Bush is a freelance jazz writer who has been exploring the San Diego improvised music scene for more than 30 years.

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