For what seems like a year, but is really only about 10 months, CBE has done next to nothing: no rehearsals, no performances, no get-togethers. And even before that, there was little activity that I could brag about. I had a line on a precious few performance opportunities, but life being what it has been, I wasn’t able to execute and bring them to life.

I wanted CBE to be a performing group, not a rehearsing one. And while Doug, Michael, John and I did spend a lot of time to our benefit ‘just rehearsing’ back in earlier days, it became clear that they also wanted to perform more than we did–more than I organized and led towards. So the lack of regular performances probably led to the mostly-disbanding of that lineup.

But one of my other (admittedly undeclared) goals was to play with others who were my equal or better, and in doing so, learn from and be inspired by them. So, to that end, I’m going to take CBE in the direction of being a regular ‘workshop’ for the time being.

Those of you who went to music school will recognize the concept of studio class: all the students of one teacher (or several teachers of the same instrument) gather regularly to play for each other, demonstrate and learn technique and repertoire and work on chamber works together. For the immediate future, Chicago Bass Ensemble Workshops will have two areas of focus: individual development and repertoire exploration. The former will be about learning from each other and improving skills. The latter will be about playing chamber music for basses and soliciting compositions or composition sketches (works-in-progress, ideas) from composers writing for the bass.

I’m glad that I’ve finally announced this idea–it’s been much too long that I’ve let this idea foment in my mind without taking action.

If you’re a bassist, especially one living in the Chicago area, please get in touch with me to be invited to participate. (This will be open to all.)

And if you’re a composer or someone interested in trying out musical ideas with a group of basses, please get in touch. I welcome the opportunity to try out your ideas and give you feedback.

And everyone, I welcome your comments here or via the contact form on the website.

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2 Responses to “Redirecting”

  1. Ross Lahlum says:


    I’ve been playing bass most of my life, but changed careers from music to engineering about 35 years ago, I still play, but I must admit I’m not at the level I was when playing bass was my full-time job.
    I want to get my chops back and start playing seriously again.
    I’ve been practicing about an hour a day for the last couple of months and that’s helping, but at this point I think I need to get out more.
    Almost all the bass advice around is geared toward young players just starting out. What advice would you give a guy who’s gotten a little rusty but wants to get back into serious playing?

    • Jacque Harper says:

      Hard to say … all that really comes to mind is that old joke “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice.” But seriously … I’m not sure. I know that doing well in an audition even if you don’t get the job means that you’ll make it on to the sub list and get some calls that way. But for the non-classical world, there’s nothing similar.
      I suppose it’s networking, meeting people, until you find the right musical partners or know enough people that your calendar fills up. Maybe singer/songwriter meetups? Jam sessions (I don’t really like them, but …)? Taking lessons from an established player (sometimes they can throw you a gig you’re ready for when they get busy)?
      Good luck! And check out my next few blog posts: about starting over.

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