Short Form Bio:
Grant Clarkson grew up in Los Angeles and began playing bass at ten years old and later earned his Bachelors and Masters at San Diego State University.
Ever since Grant has continuously performed with many of the most well-known musicians in the San Diego region specializing in jazz, classical, musical theatre, and mainstream pop & soul.
Grant also works with several theater companies, jazz ensembles, various churches and choral groups, as well as composing prolifically, appearing on other artists’ recordings, and teaching.
Long Form Bio:
Grant Clarkson knew he wanted to be a musician when he was five years old after seeing the professionals in action in lounges and musical theater productions with his parents, thinking he wanted to become a drummer.
Alas it was later at the tender age of 10 that he set his sights on the bass, found a teacher in John McCormick, and later formed a band with his middle school chums.
The sound of his first band, The Killer Biscuits, from the age 13 was one of punk-rock and surf-instrumental improvisation - inspired by such groups as The Police, U2, and Rush.
Grant later also taught himself guitar and piano and took every musical opportunity he could as a bassist - from private study to orchestra to musical theater to big-band jazz to avant-garde garage experimentalism such as with his high-school art-band, The Unlicensed Surgeons.
By the time he was old enough to drive Grant found himself playing colleges and parties all over the Southern California area with the r&b fusion band, Chuck Roast & The Electric Brunch and the funk-rock jam band, Mud.
These bands lasted until the end of 1992, when Grant took a semester abroad at the University of London in 1993. At this time Grant also taught himself trumpet and played on the bridges and in the squares of Westminster for tips.
But moreover for one who was a devoted practice-r and improviser on the primary instrument of the Fender bass and the fretless Fender bass while studying in college through the early 90's, study and work in the world of Jazz was an inevitability.
The acquisition of a four-track cassette recorder in the early 90's marked the beginning of what could be considered a solo-artist recording adventure with the continued influence of southern California lifestyle including surfing, Dionysian baccanalia, and a copious amount of verdant combustables - while also studying the humanities, music, and philosophy at San Diego State University.
The first phase of Grant Clarkson's solo-artist recordings mainly consist of minimalist pieces featuring multiple fretless bass tracks as well as some piano compositions.
The next phase of recording and composing came when combining forces with drummer and pianist Ed Fletcher also from Mud and Psydecar. Psychedelic improvisation would be the easiest description of this era, and the sound became augmented with vintage effects, electric pianos, exotic percussion, analog synthesizers, echoplexes, etc. along with strong contributions from Sean Hart of Wise Monkey Orchestra.
As he and all of his friends matriculated into ever more serious stages of adulthood Grant found that continuing to heed the call as an in-demand bass player seemed to eclipse any other route for making a living after earning his Masters Degree in Philosophy in 1997.
And so he got to work with various bands in the late 1990's in Los Angeles and San Diego representing such genres as jazz, blues, funk, reggae, r&b, and gospel, while also teaching privately and in various schools and academies.
Some ensembles of note from this time Grant performed regularly with were Hollis Gentry's Neon, Backfat, Shelle Blue, Psydecar, and his own bass-led jazz and funk improvisational band, GB3, which featured friends and collegues from such other groups as The B Side Players, Slightly Stoopid, Wise Monkey Orchestra, Lenny Kravitz, Hollis Gentry III, and Joel Piller from the aforementioned Unlicensed Surgeons.
Meanwhile Grant Clarkson was building his first serious body of work as a solo recording artist and took the initiative to start a record label, Imaginary Records. At a time when small independent artists rarely had digital product he found sales successful enough to keep his rent paid on the beach when combined with gigging and teaching.
Grant and Sean Hart explored more in the electronic direction and together in 1999 released The Red Carpet which showcased some vocalists of the scene at that time - Tim Pacheco of Psydecar, Alley of Wise Monkey Orchestra, as well as David Moxley and Jahsun Edmunds.
As a bassist Grant seemed to find that drummers made natural recording and songwriting partners and the next phase featured Leon Wesley from GB3 and Backfat. By this time Grant was featuring more of his own guitar-playing as well as Rhodes piano, and the music was becoming slightly more jazz and a whole lot more funk.
By the beginning of the 2000's further professional opportunities presented themselves which took Grant around the world with the dance and theater production, Celtic Fusion from 1999 - 2003 as well as playing upright bass on the cruise lines with jazz pianist Dino Fiumara Jr, 2004 - 2005 who played in the styles of Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson.
Upon settling back in San Diego, word was out that Grant Clarkson could be called on to deliver the goods on either the electric or upright bass, and could read for any style and at the last minute.
Also clear by this time was that Grant Clarkson was not just a rainy-day songwriter or home-studio dabbler, but a ceaseless fount of new recordings that were gradually becoming more the stuff of a real composer.
In 2005 Grant produced his first musical film from his 2003 double album, Ever So Much Fun. By 2006 his 100th solo album was in the can.
In 2007 the acoustic upright bass became his most conspicuous role in the San Diego jazz scene, such that many of his new collegues - themselves old-hands in the jazz world - did not know anything of Grant's electric-bass roots and assumed he was always primarily an acoustic jazz bassist.
Meanwhile Grant's work as a recording artist was still growing apace and by 2006 everything was digital and there was no longer a limit to the number of tracks. And so more sounds were brought in to the studio by means of Midi, drum programming, and new keyboards.
Great talents were also brought in to the studio such as Lenon Honor III (flute), Nate Souders (alto sax), Fermin Rivero (tenor sax), Mitch Manker (trumpet), Sky Ladd (piano), Bill Ray (drums), John Rekevics (tenor sax), and Matt Taylor (drums), among many others.
The '00's and the '10's were also something of a golden age for jazz in San Diego, a time in which Grant found himself working with Geoff Keezer, Daniel Jackson, Tommy Gannon, David Patrone, Bruce Cameron, Mikan Zlatcovich, John Cain, Sammy Nestico, Shelly Taylor, Holly Hoffman, Mike Wofford, Roman Polacio, and Mahesh Balsoorya to name but a few.
By this time a certain cruising altitude for Grant was established by also working in musical theatre - which required acoustic & electric basses and pop, jazz, & classical techniques - while doing as many jazz gigs as possible and other gigs such as churches etc, and also teaching and composing.
Some of Grant's favorite orchestra pit jobs have been Ragtime, No Way To Treat A Lady, Songs For A New World, Little Women, A Little Night Music, Sweeny Todd, She Loves Me, and Spamalot, among many others.
Also by the 2010's technology had also developed to make self-production as recording artist cheaper and easier than ever before, but also killed the CD sales which helped Grant along in an earlier stage.
So now Grant Clarkson composes at a pace that is the result of 30 years of training in between all the other work and simply releases whatever seems to add something to the corpus without much in the way of promotion or fanfare. Stylistically the dark brooding psychedelia of his earlier works has given way to jazz and a more cinematic style, with elements of virtuosity and musical humor.
In 2015 Grant began composing pure chamber works, that were more a function of score-writing than studio performances. By 2017 the second such venture turned into his second musical film - Thought Criminal - this time based on George Orwell's 1984.
Some recent releases of note would be Homechurch from 2019 - which features a 14-piece fusion ensemble all written and performed by Clarkson,
The Weird and Wonderful Suite also from 2019 - which is pure orchestral score-writing by means of Sibelius notation software, and
Ultra Luxe from 2020, which is another imaginary new band anchored by the fretless electric bass and with every part including the horn section performed by the bassist / composer using Midi technology.
In 2018 Grant began formally teaching composition in addition to teaching bass and in 2021 added score-reads of his star composition student Cassidy Lehmann to his youtube channel, Palibers.
In March 2020, the live-performance schedule of Grant and all his friends came to an abrupt halt, and Mr. Clarkson adapted by creating a 7-album countdown to his 50th Birthday culminating with 7x7+1 in the summer of 2021, as well as recording 91 jazz standards in 2 basses for his aforementioned youtube channel which he called The Black Swan Sessions.
Here in 2022, Grant is happy to be back to work with many of his favorite people in many of his favorite places, and has already released a double album this year Revenge Of The Bat Soup Fiasco, with writing for jazz quintet on deck and orchestral performances scheduled for the summer season.
The next thing Grant Clarkson dreams about in music is having his catalog of 610-works-and-counting put into consideration for film placements, or becoming the next Danny Elfman for the next Tim Burton, or something like that.