Friday, March 16, 2012

Lots Of New Music For Bass Ensemble & the end of Uccello Projects blog

Lots Of New Music For Bass Ensemble & The End Of The "Uccello Project" Blog

A few years ago I was really fired up about organizing house concerts and had a bunch of really memorable shows, then in spring of 2010 along came the Atalanta Fugiens, a massive project consisting of 50 fugues. I went into a sort of practice/recording mode and after extensive trial and error, found the perfect bass ensemble combination to record the fugues with. These three part fugues, originally written for voices, lay remarkably well on the bass. The music has been done for some time and was mastered by Robert Rich. The fugues took me about a year to complete! It was so fun and intense, a real experience of growth musically, mentally, and spiritually. Of course I was concurrently doing all manner of gigs, other recording projects, as well as some really fun shows (two highlights: opening for Mike Keneally & Bryan Beller Bands and playing with Nat Grant in the first sung shows) ...and the not so small task of raising two daughters and trying my best to help my wife in her endeavors-needless to say its been *ultra* busy!

Over the last year and a half or so I've been keeping up a pretty fierce recording regiment up in my little loft (a.k.a. Tortilla Flats Studios) trying to keep up with the inspired flow of music that seems to be bubbling up out of my basses. At this point I have quite a back log of new music for bass ensemble recorded, and am trying to figure out the best way to stagger the release of it all. I really feel proud of all this new music and want to give it it's just due, but I also want to get it out there soon, so I've set myself up a little release schedule for the next year.

The album set to be released soonest, on the spring equinox (march 20th) to be exact, is called ARCHAEUS. It was recorded in the summer of 2011. It features bass ensemble plus the Chinese wind instrument: Hulusi. Archaeus is the result of a test recording I made after finally getting a custom Rick Turner pick up system installed on my upright bass.

Another record that I have just completed using my two "dream basses" (see the last post about these instruments) features one of my all time bass heroes: Steve Lawson. I know, I know, "how many basses are there on this thing!?!" Also there's Mike Shannon on drums, and the amazing multi-instrumentalist Dayan Kai on keyboards and drums. The main tracks were recorded the the end of January 2012 at sax man/band leader, Roger Eddy's studio in Monterey. This project was also a 'runaway' record so to speak. It was originally going to be only 1 song, but the recording session yielded more material than I thought it would and then another related piece resurfaced from the depths and it seemed to take on a life of it's own! Dayan also generously donated his considerable mixing talents and helped dial in a really nice sounding project-I couldn't be prouder of how it sounds.

This album is as yet unnamed, but I do know that it will be released in late spring and a significant portion of the proceeds will go to the Food Bank Of Monterey County. More info on this as the release date approaches.

Another one of the upcoming albums is called OMNIFORM.  Another is a re-edited/remixed/re-mastered version of "The Forest That Hears And the Field That Sees".

Sidenote:  I will no longer be posting to this blog, but it will remain here as a documentation of Uccello Project's activities.  The name Uccello Project will in fact, be retired.  At this point I will be releasing projects under my name.  My new "web hub" is here: www.steveuccello.com - 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My search for the perfect bass (es) and the quest for tone

When I was 15 (1990) I got my first bass, a SquirePrecision Bass. I'm a lefty, so the first thing I did was flip the strings around. I then drilled a hole for the strap button on the short horn and I was off to the races-blissfully unaware of the insane neck dive that was the result of holding it "the wrong way".

Little did I know that would mark the beginning of a 22 year voyage, a search for my perfect bass, or as it turned out, two basses. The following photo essay documents all the different basses that were part of that process. In short it's a total bass nerd fest! But...if you are a bass fanatic, you might enjoy hearing about the trip that lead me to the basses that finally fulfilled my search. My first P-Bass looked similar to this bass...
I loved my P-Bass, but was always drawn to acoustic string instruments. About four years later in my 2nd year of college I was majoring in music and got my first upright bass, a Roma.
I loved it and really felt I had found my voice in the double bass. But it was not the ideal instrument as far as portability and erginomic comfort were concerned. Aside from all the gigs I was doing, I'd bring it everywhere including campfire jams, beach jams, etc...

After a few little scrapes and cracks here and there, and a lot of hours on my feet (I never could get used to sitting and playing the upright) I began to wish for a little acoustic bass that I could lug around everywhere with me. I thought of getting an acoustic guitar bass, but they always seemed too quiet, with no low end.

Though upright bass was my main instrument at this point, and most of the gigs I was doing were upright gigs, the search for a small loud bass was simmering on the back burner.

Leaving out a lot of exhausting details, it went something like this:

The next bass I got was a Guitarron, the big Mexican 6 string bass...
It is quite a looker...
The Guitarron definitely had the volume and tone I wanted, (you pick it all in octaves and you can play faster lines as single notes) I couldn't bow it which was lame, but it really had that boomy, acoustic, fretless tone I wanted. It's smaller and more portable than upright for sure, but when you sit down and play it you're picking hand shoulder gets pretty jacked up.

A few more years passed and although I was still mainly gigging on upright bass I also did some stuff with Guitarron, and a G&L electric 4 string fretted-custom lefty. I had even built a washtub bass somewhere in here too, and had gotten a G&L fretless 5 string electric.

But, I still yearned for something loud, acoustic, and super comfortable to sit with.
I eventually got a Regal Resophonic bass...
The resonator gave it a little more projection than most of the other acoustic guitar basses I tried out, plus I figured, "I can't bow it, but I can play slide on it!" I really fell in love with the slide tone and also with the way harmonics sounded on it. I got a fancy headways pick up put on board so it sounded great plugged in...


By the way, the last two pictures of the Regal were taken by the amazing bassist/composer and fellow lefty JEFF SCHMIDT , who is the current owner of the Regal Reso Bass.

At this point in my life I had been touring a lot with a few different singer songwriters. And though I'd flown with my upright a bit (to Italy, and around the U.S.) it was getting less and less practical to do so, and as I hadn't got a flight case for the regal yet I tried a different approach for a second.

I was missing that fretless sound and feeling that the Regal didn't have, so I decided to buy one of those cheap Hofner copies (a "Rogue", oh yeah!) and tear the frets out...
This felt and sounded good and was nice because it was such a low end instrument I really didn't mind lugging it all over the place, and dinging it up. I got a little battery powered amp and tried to make a go of it that way.

This was convenient for traveling, but it didn't have the ability to jam acoustically (and carrying a battery powered amp around wasn't ideal either) So it was back to the drawing board!

After researching a million semi acoustic and electric upright basses and not really coming up with anything I was too crazy about, I sort of came full circle back to the upright bass, but this time I had the help of the insanely awesome luthier MATT BOHN a.k.a. THE BASS DOCTOR

We came to the conclusion that for what I wanted:

-something I could feasibly gig with acoustically (no amp), that could be bowed, that was smaller than a regular 3/4 upright, the best option was a 1/2 size upright bass with a detachable neck. So with Matt's help I got a Howard Core 1/2 size and had the neck made so it could be unbolted. A detachable neck allows it to fit into the newer styled flight cases where the body goes into one trunk, and the neck goes into a smaller case which attaches onto the bigger trunk. I have yet to get a flight case, but it's in the works for future travel plans.

The 1/2 size upright is very comfortable to play and is significantly easier to drag around everywhere...
Now comes a whole other chapter in the bass quest. Now that I had found the bass I liked, it needed a great on board pick up system to go with it. I had been honing a bunch of original bass ensemble material using live looping. I was appalled by the tone coming back at me, when using the bow in particular. This is the "tone quest" part of this whole mad search.

Through a bit of research, I saw that a lot of guys were running two pick ups at once, even three. So I had famed luthier RICK TURNER not only install his upright bass pick up (which is really nice for pizzacato), but also build me a blender box/preamp that I could run a second pick up through. I chose the Gage Realist (Wood), as it seemed to compliment the Turner pick up well and have a decent bowing tone. It's not pictured here but I will sometimes add an AMT upright bass mic to this mix giving me three different reference points to work with. This system is incredibly resistant to feed back and can be used at high volumes with out too many worries. And the tone is more pleasant to me than just running a single pick up. Also I should mention that the Bass Doctor was an integral part of getting this pick up system onboard.

If you're curious to hear this pick up system in action, here's a link to a live performance. By about 7:11 into it you can really hear a bunch of bowed parts and pizzacato parts layered up:



So that concludes the upright bass portion of the bass/tone quest. During all this in the background was my infatuation with the resonator bass. I really loved how to Regal sounded and played and began to think about a 5 or 6 string version.

In short, my ultimate dream resophonic bass was made into a reality by the master reso builder PAUL BEARD who built me what is probably the world's first and only lefty-cutaway-resophonic-contrabass-guitar! It's tuned like a guitar but an octave lower (EADGBE) essentially a bass with high a B and E. It's a 36" scale and is surprisingly loud. Check it out, it's insane:
Some sound samples of this bass will soon be up on the web. There will also soon be available a new record featuring this bass with myself, Steve Lawson, Dayan Kai, and drummer Mike Shannon.
If you're still with me you are a bass fiend, congratulations! I love you-

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The first multimedia document: Atalanta Fugiens -Uccello style-

‘THE WIND CARRIED HIM IN HIS BELLY’

CLARIFIED BIRDS AND THE ‘ATALANTA FUGIENS’
THE STORY BEHIND THIS PROJECT:

My older brother Joe is an amazing artist, he was self taught for a long time, sometimes toiling away for years on one drawing, developing his intricate skills, and most importantly, his own style. Now years later he's a totally 'legit' artist and he runs Viatorium Press. But remembering back, one of his early training techniques was to put on music, completely surrender to the sounds and then literally DRAW THE MUSIC, as he heard it. His tastes were consistently as varied as Japanese Shakuhachi music, Pakistani Tar music, Persian Classical, Chinese Guqin music, Jazz, Blues, various Ambient artists, even bands like Black Sabbath and Hawkwind, to name only small fraction of what he listened to, and indeed, still listens to.

Truly I say that for my brother Joe music is a bigger part of his life than anyone I know. He’s doesn’t play seriously himself (though he has the talent to) but the priority he gives music in his life is awe-inspiring. He listens to music for hours, ingesting it, letting it shape his mind, spirit, and heart. He listens more than most musicians I know and it’s awesome to see that there is someone who makes music such a big part of their life! In this age where people have so much music smashed into low-grade mp3s into their Ipods (I am sort of included in this category;) that there’s no possible way they can even listen to it all in their lifetime, here is a gem, someone who still truly values the WORTH OF MUSIC.

I used to watch him work on his drawings and I would be aware of which musician he was ‘drawing’ and one of my goals as a musician, aside from ‘paying my dues’ and getting my skills together and surviving as a full time musician (which I have done for 12 years) was to be one of the musicians that Joe ‘drew’. Thus the birth of our music/art collaborative group ‘UCCELLO PROJECT’ in 2005 was a major step forward for us as brothers, and for my creative core as a musician. It was a reclamation for me to go back to the original creative impetus that made me want to be a musician in the first place. We then went on to create yet another side project called 'CLARIFIED BIRDS'. It’s been amazing, having completed two works together so far: ‘Symmetria’, (under Uccello Project) and 'The Forest that Hears and the Field that Sees’ (under Clarified Birds). The Forest That Hears And The Field That Sees is based on the Hieronymus Bosch painting of the same name-actually on that one we switched it around and I 'played the drawing' & Joe did a letterpressed art piece inspired by the Bosch painting.

Now we are in the process of tackling our most massive project yet, our tribute to the famous, ‘ATALANTA FUGIENS’ by composer/physician/alchemist, Michael Maier (1568-1622). Combining 50 fugues, 50 emblems, and 50 epigrams, this work is considered by many to be the first ‘multi-media’ document in history. The intention of Maier being that people would get together to sing the 3 part fugues, inspect the art of the emblems, and discuss the philosophy and meaning behind the epigrams. This all started when sometime in early spring 2010, Joe sent me the sheet music for about 30 of the fugues, curious to know what they'd sound like if I read them down with bass. Somehow the fugues fit the bass really well and we were encouraged. Many different 'ensembles' were tried & finally we've settled on bowed upright with two electric basses (one fretted & one fretless). I feel thankful to Joe for discovering this music and passing it on to me, it's been a joy recording these fugues. Now, of course, we are going to build our own multi-media document that will honor the original, yet also bring something fresh to it.

So far, our intention is to create a fine book that includes a CD along with it. Joe will be toiling at length as he’s planning to create 50 emblems of his own inspired by and based upon the original 50! The epigrams may receive a similar creative treatment by Joe, or possibly a translator may be employed, or we may try to gain permission to use translations already in existence.

As for my part, the fugues, I am recording them myself using the art of ‘live looping’ and a three voiced ‘BASS CHOIR’ comprised of BOWED UPRIGHT BASS, ELECTRIC FRETTED BASS, and ELECTRIC FRETTLESS BASS. By the way, I use a Looperlative 1, the best looper in the world, hand built by Robert Ahmstadt. If it was not for the high def sound and ease of control (all with my feet) this project would have taken soooo much longer to track. It’s been such an experience of growth for me musically and spiritually, I really feel this project is making me a better person, I know that’s sounds over the top, but that is my sincere feeling at the moment.

There’s so much more I’d love to tell you about regarding this esoteric project, but I feel I’ve already run too long. One thing I do really want to mention is that I am reading the transcriptions by the great Joscelyn Godwin during my tracking. There is just such a multi-layered complexity behind this work that I’m going to go ahead and link to some cool stuff I found on the web regarding different aspects of this amazing work:



Monday, January 10, 2011

Uccello Project 2010 highlights:

2010 was a really great year for the Uccello family. There were lots of fun times and lots to keep us busy. It’s just been a blast to be with Kathy and our little one Viola (getting bigger all the time!). It’s been amazing seeing Vi grow so fast and learn so much in such a short amount of time, I’m blown away by her intelligence! Musically 2010 was filled with various and numerous gigs, recording sessions, and jams, that I’ve not only played bass for, but also some lead guitar, mandolin, and cello.

2010 was also a great year for my solo outlet “Uccello Project”. I got to meet so many amazing folks and play my music in some really fun situations. Here are some of the highlights of this past year:

January:
-I played on KPIG radio as a solo artist for the first time and debuted my song ‘Hillcrest’


-I held a house concert at my home in Monterey which featured the amazing duo of singer/songwriter/pianist Kira Small and bassist extraordinaire Bryan Beller. They were so fun to meet and to listen to and I was so proud of my crowd for coming out on a rainy weeknight to catch the show. Adding to the host duties, I also opened the show with a few of my songs and got to do a little improv bass jam with Bryan too!

If you want a little taste of how awesome a house concert with two such beautiful musicians can be-follow this link to a song from that night on Kira’s youtube channel



February:

Played with master guitarist Rob Michael of ‘Atmos Trio’ in his ‘Live Stream Jazz’ online concert series. It was such a pleasure to play with Rob in a duet format. Not only did he arrange the whole show and record it, but then turned around and mixed an album of the whole show! The cover was by the wonderful artist Linda Mills.

Here is my tune ‘All Right, Right Now’ that Rob sight read beautifully!


March:

-I opened for singer/songwriter Kim Boekbinder (formerly of Vermillion Lies) at The Alternative Café, in Seaside. Super fun show, but no recordings to share here, unfortunately, but I think a song or two of mine may be archived on Kim’s ustream channel.

-My good friend/singer-songwriter/house concert organizer Nancy Cassidy had me open for another good friend of ours from Spain: ‘Nueva Cancion’ singer-songwriter, Juan L. Sanchez at a house concert at her Palo Alto home. It was really a treat to share some of my original music with Juan’s audience, and to feature the amazing Dayan Kai on clarinet with me for “Golden”.
-A real treat for me was playing bass and a wee bit of tenor banjo in Jackson Stock’s group ‘Taking Stock’ at the Monterey Jazz Bash. The group also featured virtuoso saxophonist Gary Meek (plays w/ Dave Weckl, Brian Bromberg to name a few). I learn so much from playing with guys like these!

April:

I discovered the insanely cool bassist Juan Garcia a.k.a. ‘Snow Owl’, who plays a custom contra-bass-guitar (6 string bass an octave below the guitar), and the sound of his music inspired me to try to have a Resophonic contra-bass-guitar made for me. Through my research of builders I found a master luthier of Resophonic guitars: Paul Beard. I discovered him through the website ‘Reso Hangout’


and contracted him to make me, what might be the first ever Reso-contra-bass-guitar.

-I put on a bass looping themed house concert: “Bass Looping On The San Lorenzo”. Bass phenom Dan Robbins headlined, and the show also featured Matt Bohn a.k.a. ‘The Bass Doctor’, Zack Parkes, myself, and percussionist Armando Mafufo. Here’s a vid of Dan, Armando, and myself from the show playing ‘Magnetic Domain’ –it was awesome to have a little ensemble for this piece…



May:

May saw me mostly doing a lot of gigs. Jazz gigs with Hot Club of Watsonville, playing the Hyatt jam with pianist Weber Iago and guitarist Michael Lent. The ‘Mushroom Mardi Gras’ with the John ‘Broadway’ Tucker Blues Band, some children’s shows with Nancy Cassidy, and Rancho Cellars with pianist Bob Phillips and saxophonist George Young. I also co-founded a little R&B band with the mind-blowing singer Malinda DeRouen. Also there was a lot of planning going on for shows and continued dialogue with Paul Beard.

June:

For the last few years I’ve played a little bass at Mike Marshall’s and David Grisman’s ‘Mandolin Symposium’. This year I got to play with blues mando man Rich DelGrosso as well as jazz mandolinist Don Sternberg, not only at the Symposium, but also at the Freight And Salvage in Berkeley, CA at Mike Marshall's International Mandolin Celebration. I am a part time mandolin player and I love getting to be involved in this wonderful event every year.

July:

I played some shows with Keith Greeninger and Dayan Kai. Most notably we opened for the band Little Feat at the Chico Brewfest. We also did a house concert in Oakland at a unique venue called “The Boathouse”. I played the tune ‘Golden’ solo in the middle of the show-I really enjoy bringing my brand of instrumental ‘bass-music’ to a folk/vocal audience and having it received well, it means a lot to me to successfully cross lines like that ☺


August:

Right at the top of the month I opened for singer-songwriter Saul Kaye at The Venue" in Seaside. What a great musician and a really cool guy, he also is quite the Live Looper! Then Kathy, Vi and I went to upstate New York for Kathy’s sister’s wedding. I played acoustic guitar for the ceremony, Kathy was a bride’s maid and Vi had her first gig as a flower girl-it was insanely cute! Around this time I was also regularly meeting with master luthier Rick Turner as he was installing a custom pick-up system onto my upright bass. Some of you might remember me referring to this process as my ‘tone quest’, alas- ‘tis fulfilled!

September:

September started with a bang, a big-bang to be precise, The Monterey Bay Jazz Orchestra reconvened to play a show together at the Aquarium. So nice to jam with cats like Paul Contos and Eddie Mendenhal! Then there was the streaming Jazz show in Berkeley with Rob Michael, Dave Hoffman, Jason Parker, and Darin Wilson. After that it was up to Sister’s Folk Fest in central Oregon to accompany Dayan Kai on upright bass. Jazz Festival weekend I played a gig with the local Monterey Jazz group ‘Along Came Betty’ in Big Sur.

October:
A visit to KPIG again with guitarist/looper Bill Walker started out the month. Then I played in Santa Cruz at the Y2KX International Live Looping festival-had a great time playing, as well as listening to, and meeting other musicians. I played two of the “Atalanta Fugiens” there for the first time live. Lots of good firsts for me this year it seems.

I also did a show with guitarist Bill Walker at The Alternative Café. Here is us playing ‘Chiral’ together-double slide action!



-On 10-10-10 my new virtual duo ‘sung’ with the Australian percussionist/composer Nat Grant released “Melbourne, Monterey”. It was the first collaborative record I’d. Though it’s an online project the CD came out sounding like a very intimate performance. One of my bass heroes, the inimitable Jeff Schmidt, created a very cool podcast about the making of “Melbourne, Monterey”. If you would like to hear it, check out the post on this blog about our ‘virtual duo’ sung. This also inadvertently led to doing some collaborative recordings with Jeff Schmidt, which will hopefully surface in 2011!

November:

Yet another visit to KPIG, this time it was to advertise a house concert with singer songwriter multi-instrumentalist Amy Obenski. We had a really nice show together at Nancy Cassidy’s Santa Cruz house concert venue. I opened the show, and also sat in with her and her awesome cellist, Dan Brown. We did some double bow low string playing together, what a rush!

December:

I played a show at the Corralitos Cultural Center with my good friend and long time musical co-conspirator, Dayan Kai. I played a few tunes of mine as well as accompanying Dayan and, we both did a bit of live looping. Here’s a good old Dayan song called ‘When You Know”


There’s lots more between all the cracks, I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but for now there’s the ‘progress report’ on Uccello Project, I’m looking forward to an even better year in 2011. I hope you all are making big plans for the upcoming year, also I’d love to hear about them, please leave a comment so I can keep an eye on what’s happening ☺

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New 'virtual duo' sung release 'Melbourne, Monterey'

The new duo 'sung' comprised of Steve Uccello and Australian percussionist, Nat Grant have released a new CD: 'Melbourne, Monterey'. The new release contains an array of string and percussion instruments as well as electronics. The whole record was done virtually by Nat and Steve by sending files across the web for about a year. To learn more about the duo, and the record check out this wonderful podcast done by Jeff Schmidt (Musician/Producer/Bassist, KFOG/KSAN Creative Director, Contract Sound Designer World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, Diablo 3, & other games/films)

video

To purchase a high quality download of 'Melbourne, Monterey', simply click the 'BUY' button on the above BandCamp player. There are a limited number of physical CD's available, if you'd like one purchase the download from the BandCamp player and email us at - sungduo@hotmail.com - with your address. You can also visit us at our sung Myspace profile.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Why Bass Looping On The San Lorenzo?

Bass Looping on The San Lorenzo-April 24th, 2010 6pm in Felton, Ca

Here's a little background about the upcoming 'Bass Looping On The San Lorenzo' event. It's a house concert right on the beautiful San Lorenzo River near the Covered Bridge in Felton. The show will center around TheBass (Upright, Electric, more...) and the art of Live Looping. Though it will be an intimate, little show, it's inspired by Rick Walker's groundbreaking Y2k Bass/Drum Looping Festival, which featured Steve Lawson (Here's a cool interview by Daniel Elliot with Steve Lawson, Michael Manring, and Rick Walker done around the time of that festival). This upcoming house concert was also inspired by the amazing time I had listening/attending/playing at the latest of Rick's amazing Y2K series. I'm aware that there' a lot going on around the world in regards to these arts, these are just the things that spurred me into the worlds of solo bass and live looping.

Though hoping to make this an event that will draw Central Coast bassists and loopers together and promote the expanding role of the bass as well as the inspiring art of Live Looping, I am also exhilarated about the wide ranging appeal that the music will have. The lineup that's featured on this special event goes way beyond just being bassists or loopers, they are artists whose goal is to transcend the 'tools' they're using and create enchanting music in and of itself. It's exiting to me that a non-bass/looping crowd could walk in and simply listen to the sweet sound from these fantastic artists, with eyes open or closed. I feel that is a good way to bring these more obscure art forms to people's attention and thereby reward the listener with quality, unique music and, hopefully, to create opportunities for the practitioners of such arts.

I'm extremely proud to be organizing and playing at this show. The bassists involved are all such uniquely musical people! Dan Robbins and Zach Parkes are a treat to hear playing within an ensemble, but their solo music extends the bass beyond the conventional supportive role in varied and beautiful ways! Then there'sMatt Bohn a.k.a. The Bass Doctor, a community pillar for bassists as a luthier, as well as a stunningly powerful bassist. Matt has chosen the finale piece, Big Brother, by Stevie Wonder, and suggested doing it as a bass quartet (2 uprights, 2 electrics). It promises to be really fun! Also joining in on percussion will be the legendaryArmando Mafufo. The music will start around 6 but make sure to come early (5ish) to enjoy a potluck and a little hang by the river.

-I'd love to see you there! RSVP me at 831-801-4920 or stevebassbird@yahoo.com for the details


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bass Looping on The San Lorenzo APRIL 24th


Hello all! Steve Uccello here, announcing the next House Concert I'm organizing. It will be an event centered around two of my favorite things in music: Bass and Live Looping.

On Saturday, April 24th 6pm, in Felton, the ground will rumble with the beautiful sounds of bass. The show will feature the inimitable DAN ROBBINS playing his intricate and fiery solo bass music. Also the subversive, part time deck-hand/bassist/student, Zach Parkes, will be opening the show with some of his beautiful solo bass music. In the middle of all this I will play a set of my acoustic/bass/looping tunes. I will be accompanied by the legendary Armando Mafufo on a bit of Percussion. As a 'Grand Finale' Matt Bohn (A.K.A. The Bass Doctor) Dan, Zach, and myself, will perform a song especially arranged for this event together in a bass quartet featuring two upright basses and two electric basses! It promises to be an evening of fantastic music whether you're a fan of bass, looping gadgets, or just a lover of beautiful music in general! Also, please come early at 5pm for a bountiful potluck. This is a House Concert at a private residence in Felton, CA (near the Covered Bridge) right on the San Lorenzo River, it should be a sweet hang as well as an epic show! Join us and enjoy the food/drinks/music/friends! (Suggested donation: $10)

Please RSVP to me at 831-801-4920 or stevebassbird@yahoo.com for details

Friday, March 12, 2010

Uccello Project is very excited to be featured as the opening act for Kim Boekbinder
Thursday March 18th At The Alternative Cafe, Seaside CA

http://www.thealternativecafe.com/index.php

Check out this wonderful night of music if you are in the area, or if you're out of the area and you want to come hear a great show!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Symmetria Reviewed On Foxy Digitalis

On February 10, 2010, Symmetria was reviewed on Foxy Digitalis by contributor, David Perron. We are very exited about this, as Symmetria is Audio Centaur's first release.

Here's a link to the review on Foxy D's website: Symmetria Review on Foxy Digitalis

Here is the review pasted into this post:

Uccello Project "Symmetria"


First of all, it must be noted that “Symmetria” has some truly stunning artwork and packaging, something that can seldom be said of most CD releases. Featuring intricate ink drawings and letterpress design, not to mention lengthy excerpts of spiritual texts, there is plenty to ponder while taking in the sounds of this album.

As a listening experience, “Symmetria” is also quite dense. Steve Uccello, the gentleman behind this project, is clearly a gifted bass player and multi-instrumentalist, and his talents span numerous styles and genres. Aside from the requisite grandiosity, quite typical of album blurbs, it is worth printing the statement provided on the fold-out poster that comes in this album as it does lend some clarity to Uccello’s intent:
Fourteen songs, weaving golden darkness with otherworldly joy, unfold. Seamlessly, canopies of free form Jazz give way to mystical Folk , and passages of languid Prog become swarming Baroque lines. We sojourn over oceans of horse hair on gut drone, through labyrinths, to islands dreaming of pixillated flora and fauna. This is music of an imaginal America: where the exotic lounge of the fifties is forged with the Psych of the sixties, and Chinese masters of the ancient Guqin strum in bayous alongside the first practitioners of the Blues. Uccello Project travels deep into the earth, where roots of distant musical lineages converge.

Apart from sounding like a Dungeons & Dragons adventure, this statement does highlight the multitude of styles that course through “Symmetria”, sometimes within individual songs. The more rock-leaning, groove-based moments, like in “Garnet Film” and “Place of Seven Turns”, have a whiff of early Tortoise in them, but Uccello is more prone to detouring into non-Western tones.

While I can appreciate the high-level of musicianship on display here, I have a difficult time fully getting behind “Symmetria”. Much of this sounds a bit overly studied and a bit too polished for my tastes, bearing a sort of New Age/Bass Player Magazine sensibility that is lost on me. Definitely worth checking out if you’re a bass player or Dungeon Master though. 6/10 -- David Perron (10 February, 2010)

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Year in Uccello Project

To put it simply, 2009 was an amazing year. I got to spend massive amounts of time with my lovely wife and quickly growing daughter. I also got to be part of some great recording projects, playing and engineering. There were many fun, beautiful shows I played as a bassist with various artists. I got to be a featured guest on bass at the 2009 Mandolin Symposium and hang out with David Grisman and Mike Marshal. The Jazz big band I play upright bass in, The Monterey Bay Jazz Orchestra, appeared at the 52nd Monterey Jazz Festival, at which I was a featured soloist. There’s too much information to include details about all these things here, but if you want to follow what I’m doing with music/life in more detail, please check in with me over at Twitter or Facebook. I am writing this post to commemorate some of the high points specifically pertaining to my original musical/visual art project: Uccello Project



Any year that starts out this good has got to turn out wonderfully! On January 22nd I co-hosted, w/ Nancy Cassidy, a house concert in Santa Cruz, CA with Steve and Lobelia Lawson. This was a total treat for me, meeting Steve and Lobelia was major fun! After becoming a huge fan of their music over the internet, hearing them play live in an intimate setting like a house concert was awesome. I even got to play upright bass on an improvised song with Steve, he's so fun to jam with! In short, they are two of the warmest, most talented people I have ever met and any time you can hear them play together live it will be a good day!



Around the time of the show with the Lawson's, through twittering w/ Steve and Lobelia, I met Gustaf Fjelstrom, an amazing ambient, live looping artist, and the phenominal Jazz guitarist Rob Michael of Atmos Trio. On April 10th, in Capitola, I co-hosted, with Juan Candaleria, another house concert. The show also featured my long time friend, the soulful songwriter/guitarist, Aaron Ford. It was quite a jam packed show. To start the evening out Juan's niece played guitar and sang a traditional Ranchera song! We did a first set of Aaron, Gustaf, and myself playing in the round, one song each for 3 songs. Then Atmos Trio played one long set, then we did this crazy free jam, it was a really fun night. Check out songs from that night: As Shards Descend by Gustaf, Armondo's Rhumba by Atmos Trio, Golden by Uccello Project, and of course the 'All star jam'.

Uccello Project also released 2 records this year: “Symmetria” in August and more recently, under the name "Clarified Birds" They released "The Forest That Hears And The Field That Sees in December.

Another high point was writing a guest post on the Bass Guitar Blog: "I Hate Bass Licks" about the challenge of surviving as an artist, and the specific issues bassists face. I also appeared on The HumperLust Blogtalk Radio Show, and got to do my first official interview and play live on the 'air'!

I was also featured in the bass related site notreble.com's player spotlight in September, thanks to Corey Brown. In partnership with 'no treble' the online bass academy, Learn The Low End approached me about creating instructional videos for their site. I made four bass courses for Learn The Low End, two centering on songs from Symmetria, and two centering on rudimentary techniques. And I thank Evan Keppner for inviting me to be a part of this innovative new site for bassists.

The response to Symmetria has been really great, I got some really nice quotes about the album from some people I admire very much. Also, Symmetria got a wonderful review by the great bassist/educator/writer Damian Erskine in Bass Musician Magazine



Another high point for Uccello Project was playing a set at the Y2K9 International Live Looping Festival on Sunday October 18th. It was an amazing festival attended by a really cool group of ultra open minded folks. I felt a warm sense of community and it was nice to have such an attentive audience. I haven't yet got videos from the set, but you can watch my set on the Ustream archives, the Uccello Project set is about 11 minutes into this video segment.



The first full length Uccello Project show, a house concert in Seaside, CA at our midwife, Maggie Bennett’s house, was a fitting climax to such a great year. Kathy played a bit of mandolin and sang some great harmonies on the vocal tunes we did together, the rest was solo with live looping, it was a blast. It was the first time Magnetic Domain was played live!

Just for fun, even though it's not directly Uccello project related, here's a video of me playing bass with Mike Marshall's student ensemble at the Mandolin Symposium, it was such an honor to play a bit with him, as well as David Grisman.

video

Thanks to all who read this, I look forward to 2010 with much enthusiasm, hopefully we'll get to meet up someday soon!