Scott Colley’s stature as a leading bassist in the field of improvised music is well known, and easily measured. He’s been called “one of the leading bassists of our postbop era, and a composer-bandleader of quietly serious resolve” by The New York Times, while musical colleagues, like saxophonist Joshua Redman, praise him for being “one of the most musical bassists playing today. To me, he seems to have…this natural, intuitive, empathic sense of how to bring the most out of the other musicians and the music he’s playing.”
Colley, a three time Grammy nominee, has performed on over 200 recordings, eight of those as bandleader and composer. He is a first-call sideman, as renowned for his role in groups led by well-known headliners—John Scofield, Herbie Hancock, Chris Potter, many others—as he is for being part of all-star projects like “Still Dreaming” with Joshua Redman, Ron Miles, and Brian Blade; and “Steel House” with Edward Simon and Brian Blade.
Significantly, Colley is a leader of note, having assembled and composed music for a number of his own ensembles of top-level talent. His new recording Seven benefits from the combined prowess of Colley alongside trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, keyboardist/singer Kevin Hays, and drummer Nate Smith. The recording serves as an earnest, effective example of the personal and the musical becoming one, and is dedicated to a number of important mentors who have passed away recently, including Andrew Hill, Michael Brecker, Jim Hall, Charlie Haden, Fred Tinsley and Colley’s father.
“This last decade has been a big shift for me personally, and has made me appreciate the importance of being present in the moment, in life, as well as in music,” says Colley. “These moments happen only once. I believe that because I'm more aware of this fact, I’ve come to a deeper understanding of my various experiences—how I’ve arrived at this point in my career, and my life.”
Colley’s musical journey began in his hometown of Los Angeles. He was born in 1963 where at the ripe age of 11 he set his sights on the bass as his instrument of choice. At 13, he began studying with bassist Monty Budwig, and later, attending Eagle Rock High School, with John Rinaldo the school’s musical director. A full scholarship to the California Institute for the Arts (CalArts) greeted him after graduation. He focused on composition and jazz studies, while also studying privately with jazz legend Charlie Haden and classical bassist Fred Tinsley of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.