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Grant Clarkson: Biography

Jazz Performance Bio:

Grant Clarkson is one of the busier upright and electric bassists in the San Diego metropolitan area, and has been well known for his original
composition and his contribution to theatre productions, jazz ensembles, and regional orchestras for the last 20 years, along the way working with such living legends as Daniel Jackson, Geoff Keezer, Sammy Nestico, Gilbert Castellanos, Bob Magnusson, and Tommy Gannon.

Grant Clarkson began his life as a bassist in Los Angeles at the tender age of 10, studying in after-school programs, with a private teacher who was hip to everything from Duke Ellington to punk rock, and later high school and university orchestras, jazz bands, and musical theater. Grant had probably put in his first 10,000 hours before the age of eighteen, working out technique, ear and repitoire with LP records, FM radio, and various youth bands. Moving to San Diego for college, Clarkson had completed his Masters degree in 1997 from San Diego State University studying with music faculty Bill Yeager and Rick Heltzer.

Grant was well known as an electric bassist before joining the world of acoustic jazz with great conviction. The traditional sound and style of the acoustic upright bass in smaller jazz ensembles is clearly something that Grant enjoys and has an innate affinity for, with unmistakable familiarity with, and affection for, such greats as Ray Brown, John Pattituci, Bob Magnusson, Christian Mcbride, Eddie Gomez, and Marc Johnson.

Over the last few years Grant has found himself on the bandstand or in the orchestra pit or in the recording studio over 300 dates a year, and has gotten worldwide airplay for his debut jazz recording as a leader, "Dearly Beloved", and continues composing somewhat "avant-garde" pieces as a labor of love that are accumulating rapidly and ready to be discovered at such accessible outlets as Itunes, Amazon, Pandora, and Spotify.

In 2016 Grant released an acoustic / electric avant-garde album, "Bunny Ears" before bearing down into a new 40 minute chamber septet work, "Thought Criminal", finishing the arrangements and leading the recording session for "Recollection" and throwing in a bass funk and electronica album, "Whatever You Want" for good measure.

In 2017 more original works featuring the fretless electric bass are in progress, with two theater productions and the usual jazz trio and duet work also on the calendar, not to mention the joy of watching his students perform and grow!

Short Form Bio:

Grant Clarkson grew up in Los Angeles and began playing bass at ten years old. Moving to San Diego for college in 1991, he earned his Bachelors and Masters at San Diego State University, studying under Rick Heltzer and Bill Yeager.

Grant currently performs regularly with many of his favorite musicians in
the San Diego region including, David Patrone, Gilbert Castellanos, Mark Augustin, and Tommy Gannon to name a few. Grant also works with several musical theater companies, churches, as well as composing, appearing on other artists’ recordings, and private teaching.


Comprehensive / Recording Artist Bio:

Whether with his electric bass or with his upright, Grant Clarkson has been blessed to perform all around the world with incredible musicians and performers.

As a composer, Grant Clarkson has an even more extensive reach and may be one of the more prolific composers in his beautiful California city. The cds released under his own name have sold around the world as have many others wherein he appears as an accompanist. 2011 featured the release of Grant's first acoustic jazz album as a leader, "Dearly Beloved" which received local and worldwide airplay. 2014 featured a new launch, "Hearts Of Light", featuring an all-star quintet, and new compositions premiered at the La Jolla Contemporary Museum of Art.

Performing over five hundred different titles in live professional settings and composing & recording over sixty original pieces is part of what constitutes a typical year in the career of Grant Clarkson. The songs performed in the 300 or so lives dates a year are comprised of Grant's original compositions, his colleague's compositions, jazz standards, latin standards, R&B classics, smooth jazz favorites, gospel standards, both contemporary and traditional, show tunes from the periodic pit job, as well as the definitive American blues repertoire.

When teaching privately and in clinics, Clarkson emphasizes listening first, knowing the styles and repertoire, having good technique, including time, intonation, tone, dynamics, and intensity / sensitivity / detachment. Central to all these things is theoretical knowledge, musical literacy, and at least some piano competence. He continually meditates upon excellence in the bass and believes this is a better route to getting positive attention when performing in ensembles than dominating the ensemble.

When free to compose however, Clarkson demands challenges of himself that go beyond all these things. Already in 2017, Grant has released his 28th album - out of a much larger unreleased corpus. Each album has its own theme, instrumentation, and aesthetic. Grant Clarkson's philosophy as a composer might be stated simply as, 'To thine own self be true'. Never a songwriter in the traditional sense of lyrics and verse/chorus structures, he feels compelled to follow this muse no matter how far afield from the nightclub or the DJ his writing takes him, and finds inspiration in the most humble sense from many of the great artists, composers, and performers in the worlds of jazz, classical music, and film.

Grant Clarkson is proud to endorse Hartke speaker enclosures and D'Addario strings.