Instructor of String Bass
Bassist Gregg August spans the jazz, Latin jazz, classical and avant-garde scenes. A sought-after composer and arranger, August has been an active member of the New York music scene for more than 10 years.
Originally a drummer, August began to study the bass while a percussion major at SUNY-Albany. Two years later, after transferring to the Eastman School of Music, he began studying jazz composition with renowned arranger Ray Wright and performance with pianist Bill Dobbins. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he promptly made the move to New York City, receiving his master’s degree from The Juilliard School, where he studied with legendary bass teacher Homer Mensch. Soon after graduation, August won the principal bass position with the Orquestra Ciutat de Barcelona in Spain, which he held for two years. After spending some time freelancing as a jazz bassist in Paris, August found himself hungry to return to the challenging New York scene. Upon arriving back in New York, armed with a wealth of experience in Spanish culture and language, August became inspired by Latin music. His interest then led him to Cuba and Brazil and to becoming a student of master Latin bass player Andy Gonzalez. It wasn’t long before he was touring and recording with Ray Barretto’s New World Spirit.
In 2003, August formed his own sextet, which has recorded two critically acclaimed albums: Late August (Iacuessa Records, 2005) and One Peace (Iacuessa Records, 2007), which was selected as one of the top 10 recordings of 2007 by Paul Blair of Hot House magazine. The sextet performs regularly in the New York City area. August was a recipient in 2009 of a Jerome Foundation/Jazz Gallery commission for a large ensemble, multimovement work,Dialogues on Race, based on poetry discussing race in America. The review of the premiere by the blog Lucid Culture raves, “August’s richly melodic, aptly relevant compositions created a program that screams out to be recorded.” In July 2007, the Bang on a Can All-Stars premiered his Cuban son-inspired composition “Oriente.” The Boston Globe review admires the way the piece “deftly contrasts languorous atmospheric writing with the kind of hard-driving and rhythmically charged music that the All-Stars eat for breakfast.”
August has played with Ray Barretto, Ornette Coleman, Paquito D’Rivera, Arturo O’Farrill, James Moody, and Lincoln Center’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, among others. As a classical bassist he frequently performs with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the American Composer’s Orchestra. August is a member of the JD Allen Trio and Chico O’Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra and assistant principal bass with the Brooklyn Philharmonic.
In addition to teaching at UConn, August is a faculty member (since 2003) at the Bang on a Can Summer Music Institute at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts.