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Take Five With Erik Applegate

AAJ Staff By

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Meet Erik Applegate: Erik Applegate has been called "a top-notch acoustic bass performer" (, and he has appeared with the Bob Mintzer Big Band, Nnenna Freelon, Milt Jackson, Jeff Coffin, Eddie Daniels, Ingrid Jensen, George Garzone, Tom Harrell, Marlena Shaw, and others. He toured with James Williams and in a trio with Harold Mabern and Ed Thigpen, and has performed throughout the U.S. and in Canada, Europe, and Australia.

Applegate's CD Red Skies showcases his playing and songwriting in a quartet setting. He can also be heard on Dana Landry's Grammy-nominated Journey Home, Don Aliquo's Another Reply, and Ken and Harry Watters' Brothers 3, all of which reached the top 30 on the Jazz Week U.S. airplay chart. In addition to leading two bands—A * S * K (a bass-voice-guitar jazz trio) and red Sylvester, the electro-acoustic groove—Applegate performs frequently as a sideman and is an avid songwriter, composer, and arranger. His schedule, sound clips, and further details are available at his website.



Teachers and/or influences?

Ray Brown, John Clayton, Ron Carter, Rufus Reid, Dave Holland, Charlie Haden, Steve Swallow, Chuck Rainey.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...

...It was the only thing that was always there for me.

Your sound and approach to music:

Melody and groove.

Your teaching approach:

Try to discover what it is that I can be for the student in his/her progress.

Your dream band:

Gosh—so many! Pianists: Cedar Walton, Herbie Hancock; drummers: Roy Haynes, Victor Lewis; saxophones: Ralph Moore, Don Aliquo, George Garzone, Dave Liebman; trumpet: Clay Jenkins, Vern Sielert, Ingrid Jensen; trombone: Paul McKee, Dave Glenn; guitar: Steve Kovalcheck, John Abercrombie, Pat Metheny. Oh, and don't forget the singers: Marlena Shaw, Mary Stallings, Ernestine Anderson, Sunny Wilkinson, Kathleen Grace.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?

My first CD as a leader, Red Skies. It was just a great feeling of relaxation, confidence, energy, and exploration with my collaborators.

The first Jazz album I bought was:

Something by Ray Brown—maybe Something for Lester.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

I'm just trying to express something personal that is still melodic, grooving, and memorable.

Did you know...

I took ballet lessons for a few years before I became a garage-band heavy-metal bassist.

CDs you are listening to now:

Right now? Shirley Horn (to learn unusual standards) and Donald Brown.

How would you describe the state of jazz today?


What is in the near future?

A duo recording with my longtime cohort pianist Dana Landry, and a recording with my new trio A * S * K. (Bass-guitar-vocals).

By Day:

Jazz professor. (yikes!)

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a:

Writer of essays and poetry.


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