John Voigt

John Voigt

Musicians | Instrument: Bass, acoustic | Location: Boston

One of the world's most inventively alive bass players. John Voigt has done everything from transforming his instrument into a conduit for readings of the Kabbalah to wringing from its neck the scream of an electrocuted pickle.

—Bill White, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Updated: February 18, 2024

Musician (bass, spoken word, performance art). Occasional performances with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Keith Jarrett, Bill T. Jones, Captain Kangaroo, Tuli Kupferberg (Fuggs), Jemeel Moondoc, Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), and in Broadway musicals. Music educational and biographical essays published in leading reference books and journals. Appearances on nationwide television and radio. Taught privately—and at The Boston Conservatory, Berklee, Massachusetts College of Art, Northeastern University, and Boston Arts Academy. Served on the Board of Overseers at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University. Twelve recordings, one video released.

"On September 17, 2005 I was playing bass in a small park in downtown New York City with the Jus’ Grew Orchestra—some of the best jazz musicians alive today. The star of the evening was violinist Billy Bang, someone new to playing with the band. That night Bang took over: he was conducting, he was bringing friends up to sit in with the band, he was disappearing with beautiful women in the audience. The band leader, Jemeel Moondoc, decided to throw me into a musical duel with him. But I was in difficult straights. First Bang was arguably the best string player in jazz—his bow technique is killer good. And I was on bass (big-awkward) and Bang was on violin (small—facile). Always a gentleman, Bang thought he would start this musical contest by taking it easy with me before musically crushing me. He played a singing high jazzy phrase that made the people in front of us begin to dance. But now my bow began to glow with energy. I watched and listened as I unbelievably soared above him (me on the much lower bass). I took his beautiful phrase and turned it into a scream of ecstasy: It was still jazz, but it also was the Music of the Spheres; it was exploding clumps of Divine gamma rays, and it bested the violinist. The audience went wild and awarded me the loudest applause of the evening. You can hear all this on the attached audio clip from the concert. The set was over. Trumpeter Roy Campbel l, trumpet, hugged me, saying “We’ll play together soon.” The drummer... I believe one of the best in jazz today, Chad Taylor (and also one of the most taciturn) said quietly under his breath “Yes John.” The meaning was clear: I had made it big time. Bang laughed, jumped up and down and forgetting that we had played together years ago asked, “How come I don’t know you?” He loved what I did.

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"Jazz more than only music: Musicians regal, experienced, relaxed, in perfect harmony.... John Voigt with his super-modern sleek structured bass makes light as a feather dialogues with the drums, then trumpet....he [Voigt] says ‘There is much that's bad in the world, but even the worst hides sparks of divine light.' Here is music that celebrates the victory of life over death; [as Voigt mentioned] the victory of the glittering sparks over the darkness." —Dachauer Nachrihten 12. March 2007. “John Voigt's bass has developed into a loquacious and pleasing conversationalist through his fastidious attention to timbre and a wealth of experience” —Elliott Simon, All About Jazz "In his hands the bass turns into a real talker, a mythical creature, a mouthpiece for the history of man

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All About Jazz user John Voigt All About Jazz user Richie Arnedo


Sunset With Susan

From: The Music of Paul Motian
By John Voigt

Contemplation of the Blue Egyptian Goddess

From: Outsider Bass
By John Voigt