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John Goldsby

Since 1994, John Goldsby has been a member of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk Big Band(the Cologne Radio Big Band). From 1980 to 1994, John lived in New York City and was an active fixture on the New York jazz scene, performing everywhere from Carnegie Hall, to the nightclubs of Greenwich Village, to concert stages around the world. John is actively involved in the jazz scene as a bassist, bandleader, composer, teacher, clinician and author.

The son of a Baptist minister, John was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. He played piano, guitar, and electric bass before taking up the double bass at age 18. His early musical experiences include work with hometown jazz greats Jimmy Raney, Helen Humes, and Jamey Aebersold. In 1979, John got the gig with the house trio at a jazz club in Louisville that brought in famous jazz soloists to play with the trio. For almost one year, John played with some of the legends of jazz including: Jay McShann, Buddy Tate, Johnny Hartman, Barney Kessel, Tom Harrell, Dave Liebman, Buddy DeFranco, and others. When this gig ended, John knew he had to move to New York. In 1980, he put the bass in the car and made his move...

After moving to New York, John found himself in good company with all of the other young players on the scene. His first experiences with the established New York elite included gigs with Albert Dailey, Sal Nestico, John Hicks, Benny Bailey and Bob Wilber. Goldsby has recorded with many world-class musicians, including Scott Hamilton, John Lewis, and the American Jazz Orchestra.

Goldsby’s most recent recordings include"Space for the Bass" [Bass Lion], with Francesco Cafiso, karolina Strassmayer, Martin Sasse, and Hans Dekker, “Live at the Nachbar” (Bass Lion, 2008), a powerful sax-bass-drums trio with Jacob Duncan and Jason Tiemann, and “The Visit” (Bass Lion, 2009), a duo with pianist Bill Dobbins. The John Goldsby, Peter Erskine, Bill Dobbins Trio are featured on the highly-acclaimed recording "Cologne" (Fuzzy Music). “Frisky” and “Live at Le Pirat” (Organic Music) are the recent releases with trumpeter John Marhsall. “Feed the Birds,” "The Shimmering Colours of Stained Glass," and "The Underwater Poet" with Hubert Nuss, "Ups and Downs" with Ludwig Nuss, "Tesoro" with Rolf Roemer, "All John" with Hans Peter Salentin, and guitarist Joachim Schoenacker's "Blunatic" are among recently released recordings which feature John. "Behind Closed Doors" with Peter Erskine, "The Chase" with Randy Sandke, "An Ellington Affair" with Bill Mays, "Big Man's Blues" with Andy Fusco, and "The Return of the Great Guitars" (Herb Ellis, Larry Coryell, Mudell Lowe, and Charlie Byrd) are among other noteworthy recordings. Three critically acclaimed records with the Frank Vignola Trio are "Appel Direct," "Let It Happen," and "Look Right, Jog Left” and “Off Broadway.”

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Liner Notes

Marshall Gilkes: LifeSongs

Read "Marshall Gilkes: LifeSongs" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

A sojourn in the city of Cologne is akin to a homecoming for Marshall Gilkes. The lauded trombonist spent four memorable years in that cultural hub beside the Rhine, making his mark within the ranks of the WDR Big Band's brass section, and his departure in December of 2013 did nothing to dampen his love for the region and the tremendous fellow feeling binding him to his colleagues. Illustrating this point, one month later Gilkes returned for a proper farewell ...

Album Review

Chuck Owen: Renderings

Read "Renderings" reviewed by Angelo Leonardi

Nato dalla collaborazione tra la WDR Big Band e Chuck Owen, Renderings conferma quest'ultimo ai vertici dell'orchestrazione mainstream contemporanea e l'orchestra tedesca l'autorevole e avvincente ensemble che sappiamo. L'idea del progetto nasce quando la splendida sassofonista della big band, Karolina Strassmayer, ha chiesto a Chuck di arrangiare una sua composizione, stimolando il bandleader a impegnarsi in un ampio lavoro con l'orchestra di Colonia. Impegni personali e circostanze varie (tra cui la pandemia) hanno ostacolato il progetto, che ...

Album Review

Marshall Gilkes and WDR Big Band: Life Songs

Read "Life Songs" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Maryland-born trombonist Marshall Gilkes, who spends much of his time working in and around various jazz bases in North America, returns to his “second" home, Cologne, Germany, for Life Songs, his eighth album as leader and third with his former employer, Cologne's world-class WDR Big Band. Gilkes spent the years 2010-13 in the WDR trombone section, shortly before he and the ensemble released the widely praised albums Koln (Alternate Side, 2015) and Always Forward (Alternate Side, 2018). ...

Album Review

Chuck Owen: Renderings

Read "Renderings" reviewed by Pierre Giroux

Renderings by Chuck Owen and The WDR Big Band is a remarkable jazz album that showcases the artist's mastery as a composer, arranger and bandleader. This release stands as a testament to Owen's innovative approach to jazz music blending traditional elements with modern influences to create a unique and captivating sonic experience. The album title is an apt description of the musical approach taken by Owen, as he focuses on the works by other composers along ...

Album Review

Chuck Owen and the WDR Big Band: Renderings

Read "Renderings" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Anyone who uses YouTube to search for contemporary jazz must surely be familiar with Germany's blue-ribbon WDR Big Band, as it is abundantly represented at the site. Bearing that in mind, it may come as no surprise to those seekers (and others) that the WDR's latest recording, on which it is paired with the esteemed Florida-based composer and arranger Chuck Owen, offers another master class in big-band artistry, or how to make even the most arduous charts seem deceptively simple. ...

Album Review

Hendrik Meurkens and the WDR Big Band: Samba Jazz Odyssey

Read "Samba Jazz Odyssey" reviewed by Jack Bowers

One could probably count the number of big-band albums featuring a harmonica player on the fingers of one hand and leave some unused. Only one other springs to mind here, and it was released so many years ago that the names have long since been forgotten. And so it is indeed a genuine pleasure to hear the virtuosic Hendrik Meurkens performing with one of the world's foremost large ensembles, Cologne, Germany's exemplary WDR Big Band. More than ...

Album Review

Hendrik Meurkens: Samba Jazz Odyssey

Read "Samba Jazz Odyssey" reviewed by Edward Blanco

One of the leading proponents of bossa nova and samba in the jazz world, New York-based chromatic harmonica virtuoso Hendrik Meurkens continues his love affair with Brazilian music with the big band sound of Samba Jazz Odyssey, his seventh release on the ZOHO record label. This time Meurkens is joined by the world-renown WDR Big Band from Cologne, Germany where the maestro and ensemble record nine tracks and seven of his most popular compositions arranged by Grammy-nominated conductor Michael Phillip ...

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The Jazz Session #110: John Goldsby

The Jazz Session #110: John Goldsby

Source: Michael Ricci

Bassist John Goldsby has worked in Germany for the last 15 years, playing in a state-sponsored jazz orchestra in Cologne. On his album Space For The Bass (Bass Lion, 2009), Goldsby explores the role of the bass in a variety of small-group settings. In this interview, Goldsby talks about why hes chosen to make his home in Germany since the mid-90s; his view of the bass and its place in an ensemble; and how an improbable gig in Louisville, KY, ...



Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Life Songs

Alternate Side Records



Alternate Side Records



MAMA Records


Samba Jazz Odyssey

Zoho Music


Blue Soul

Strikezone Records



Basic Lion Music


Knife's Edge

From: Renderings
By John Goldsby



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