Larry Epstein may not have the typical resumé for a jazz musician. In fact he’s still playing professional as a bassist with the San Franciso Symphony Orchestra. Nevertheless, or maybe just because of his mutual love for classical and jazz music he has recently released his very strong debut album myTunes! full of original compositions.
In his jazz-not-jazz interview he talks about the bass players in his family, his influences, the difference between jazz and classical music and what’s missing on most commercially released music these days.
Q: Playing both classical music in an orchestra and jazz music isn’t actually something I would normally assume. Please tell me who or what has made you a jazz music fan? And what was the sparkle that made you want to play in a jazz setting too?
Larry Epstein: Of all the instruments that comprise a symphony orchestra, perhaps it is the double bass that can also be found in the most wide variety of other musical settings. Be it jazz, country western, klezmer or rock ‘n roll (w/ electric bass), the bass is an integral part of the music.
By my late teenage years, I was playing professionally in both symphony orchestras and various dance bands. Then, as now, most of my jazz playing came from sitting in on friends’ gigs and playing jam sessions. I’ve always loved the feeling of being able to lay down some time and find a groove with the piano and drums. Jazz is such a wonderful art form that expresses both structure and freedom.
Q: Both your father and grandfahter are professional bassists. So I guess your parents were very content that you picked the bass too and became a professinal bassist too, weren’t they?
Larry Epstein: My father, at the age of 85, is STILL a professional bassist, playing with a symphony orchestra in Florida. Yes, he’s very proud of the way my career has gone. When we were both in Miami, we played together in the symphony orchestra there, and we both were very busy working the commercial music scene in the Miami Beach hotels. My grandfather, who came over from Russia and became a successful bassist in the New York society bands of the 1920’s, lived long enough to hear me play and realize that I’d be carrying on the family tradition of a life in music.