Meet Thomson Kneeland: Double bassist Thomson Kneeland moved to New York four years ago to free himself from the musical doldrums of New England. He has performed on over thirty albums and has released three self-produced projects on his label Weltschmerz Records, the latest being Kakalla's The Seeds of Analog Rebellion. He tours internationally with Lynne Arriale and regularly works with the likes of Ted Rosenthal, Matana Roberts, Hal Crook, Indian music group Natraj, and more. A month generally finds him performing everything from traditional jazz to classical crossover projects to Indian concerts and then at home working on his own compositional projects.
Instrument(s): double bass.
Teachers More than anyone else, all the great players I've had the good fortune to work with and learn from through the years. I'd cite my years of classical guitar as being the [bmost important in terms learning how to approach my instrument technically and use the body properly.
Influences Besides the typical traditional jazz canon which I acknowledge as being the foundation of my playing: Takemitsu, Shostakovich, Bartok, Lou Harrison, Federico Mompou, Karnatic and Hindustani Music, traditional Balkan music, Meshuggah, DeJohnette, Coltrane, Elvin, Charlie Haden, and of course, JS Bach; I also draw a lot of inspiration and ideas from other art forms, visual and literary.
I knew I wanted to be a musician when... I've been playing music my whole life, so performing has always been natural for me. But at sixteen, seeing Jack DeJohnette play every night for a week encouraged me to set a whole new creative standard for myself.
Your dream band: How about playing duo with JS Bach at the height of his creative powers; to be in the musical presence of that man would be life changing. I would give him ample solo space of course and plenty of cadenzas.
Did you know... I started playing double bass after graduating high school; in the meantime, I was already going to college for electrical engineering but dropped out to play full time.
What is in the near future I just completed recording fourteen of my compositions with David Smith, Take Toriyama, Nate Radley, and Loren Stillman and am hoping for a late '07 release of some of that material. I'm also hoping to record a string quartet as well as a body of chamber works for flute, clarinet, trumpet, alto sax, and bass in the near future. Besides the usual touring and performing, I plan to be devoting a lot more time to composing chamber music and in the years to come.
By Day: I spend the majority of my non gigging time shedding and studying scores/recordings or composing. I also do a lot of reading, and try to run 3-4 miles a day and do some yoga to keep myself fit and healthy.
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.