Bassist and founding member of The Lost Trio, The New Klezmer Trio, and with bassist with Graham Connah’s Jettison Slinky, Sonya Hunter, and many others
DAN SEAMANS – Bio
I grew up in Washington, DC, where I played bass guitar and occasionally pedal steel in rock bands with my friends. During my freshman year at the University of California at Santa Cruz I began studying the string bass. My teachers were Larry Epstein, from the SF Symphony, and then Mel Graves. Mel Graves encouraged me to quit my job as assistant with a tree surgeon and to get serious about practicing with these words. “If you keep playing like that you’re going to be NJ Dan. Do you know what that means? It means no job Dan.” Another great teacher whom I have studied with very sporadically is Michael Willens. I advise any bass players who read this to take a lesson from him. I graduated from UCSC with a degree in music. The best part of that program was the community of students and professors David Cope and Gil Miranda, both of whom loved music and teaching.
After graduation I continued to live in Santa Cruz for a few years. There were some great players there that I learned a lot from, some of whom I am fortunate to be collaborating with still, for example Graham Connah. Eventually I moved with friends to Oakland, where I was able to deepen my understanding of jazz by playing with three great musicians and educators: Bill Bell, Donald Bailey, and Mark Levine. Around this time Ben Goldberg, Kenny Wollesen and I formed the New Klezmer Trio, where we started by asking the question, “What would klezmer music sound like now if it had evolved continuously since the 1940’s?”
In the early 1990’s I moved with my wife and young daughter to New York. We didn’t stay long enough to accomplish much musically, but I enjoyed occasional jam sessions with inspiring musicians whose names I won’t mention because it seems too much like name-dropping, considering that I only played with them a couple of times and there are so many other musicians that I had more meaningful associations with that I have left out of this bio. In general, it is pretty hard to write something like this without having it turn into a long list of names that would be pretty boring to anyone but me, because one of the best things about music is that you get to spend time with other players and these relationships are the most important thing, really. To give just one example, I haven’t said anything about the guitarist and composer John Schott, who is a dear friend and someone that I have played with off and on for about fifteen years. So to get back to the timeline, after New York we spent a year and a half living in Southern Vermont, where our son was born. Here I was mentored by the great guy and guitarist Attila Zoller. During this period of living on the east coast I was also fortunate to go on several European tours with the New Klezmer Trio.
We moved back to Berkeley in 1994, where I have enjoyed being part of the jazz and improvised music scene. My major musical associations in recent years have been with the Lost Trio (with Phillip Greenlief and Tom Hasset) and with the singer/songwriter Sonya Hunter. I recorded a cd of compositions and improvisations with Carla Kihlstedt and Elliot Kavee that also features my dubious vocal “talents” several years ago, but I just haven’t gotten around to releasing this yet.