“Jamie Ousley: A Sonic Soul” by Manny Meland

From MiamiArtZine.com:

Jamie Ousley is one of the most in-demand bassists in the South Florida music scene. I always enjoy his creative solos and I love to hear his big bass rumble at the bottom of a jazz piece. Ousley follows the tradition of “the good teach.” He teaches full time in the jazz department at Florida International University. Internationally, he has given clinics, taught master classes and provided private lessons in Japan, Switzerland, Germany and Costa Rica.

I saw Jamie at Churchill’s Pub the other day and I asked him at what age did he start to play. He replied, that as a child of five, he was so smitten by the musical score of Star Wars, he was able to tinkle out that piece on the piano without any assistance. That was when his parents realized that he possessed a musical gift and lost no time in enrolling him in Suzuki violin lessons. Fortunately, at that time, his school had an orchestral program and he was able to practice violin throughout his public school years. Then, at the age of twelve, in middle school, he switched to the double bass. That all happened in Johnson City, Tennessee where he was born.

I was curious why he switched from violin to bass. He told me, “I switched because in our middle school class new students were just beginning to learn the violin while I had been doing it since I was five. So by switching to bass, I was learning something new. Plus, it was real cool to play the biggest instrument in the class.”

Jamie went on to earn his B.A. in Music at Virginia Tech. He continued his education after arriving in Florida in 1998 by enrolling in the prestigious Jazz Program of the University of Miami. There he gained a Master of Music (M.M.) degree in Jazz Bass Performance which was followed by a Doctorate of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) in Jazz Bass Performance.

Ousley has performed in many festivals such Ballydehob International Jazz Festival in Ireland, the Montego Bay Jazz Festival in Jamaica, Festival Mizik Jakmel in Haiti, Marian’s Jazz Room in Bern, Switzerland, the Burlington Jazz Festival in Vermont, Jazz in June in Lincoln, Nebraska, Festival Miami, and at the Associations of Jazz Educators in New York, Los Angeles and Osaka, Japan.

The list of heavy duty musicians that have invited Jamie Ousley to back up their performances sounds like ‘who’s who’ in the jazz world. It includes Ira Sullivan, Eddie Higgins, Arturo Sandoval, Benny Golson, George Sheering, James Moody, Dave Liebman, John Fedchuk, Maria Schneider, Vince Mendoza, Jim McNeeley, Nestor Torres, Bucky & John Pizzarelli, Carmen Lundy, Harry Allen, Chip McNeill, Bob Berg, Greg Abate, Royce Campbell, Duffy Jackson, Steve Davis, Adam Nussbaum, and Vic Damone.

You are in luck if you would like to see him, as he is a prolific performer. For example, just look at his August schedule: Friday the 13th at Blue Jean Blues with Turk Mauro, the next day on Saturday (Aug. 14) at the Globe with Mike Gerber and Rodolfo Zuniga, which he followed on Monday (Aug. 16) at the Palm Beach Steak House with SAMM. The next Saturday (Aug. 21), he repeated his gig with Gerber at the Globe. Then on Monday (Aug. 23), he and Jim Gasior played Churchills Pub. This same pair took their act the following Friday (Aug. 27) to the Bass Museum of Art for the museum’s ‘Hot Nights, Cool Jazz’ series.

And it was fun seeing him at Churchill’s Pub on Monday, August the 23rd. The scene there reminded me of the old New York loft scene, which was a testing ground for creative young musicians. Several bands showed up that night to strut their stuff. I felt that the Jamie Ousley Trio, with Jamie on bass, Jim Gasior on keyboard, and John Yarling on drums, stole the show.

See Jamie Ousley’s performance schedule at www.jamieousley.com.

Check out the Jamie Ousley Trio (one incarnation) on this video of “If I Were A Bell.”


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