Acoustic bassist Rob Thorsen began playing classical guitar at the age of 7.
He later went on to play flute, saxophone, tuba, and electric bass before getting his first upright bass. It was a turning point in his life. He became very involved in music and learning as much as he could about the bass.
“When I began playing upright bass, the fact that I felt the sound as much as heard it had a profound effect on me. I was hooked for life.”
Rob was hired to perform on a cruise ship, the Royal Viking Star, for eight months traveling around the world. Afterwards, he settled in San Francisco. Soon, Thorsen was busy working in many of the bay areas top clubs including: Kimball’s, Yoshi’s, the Great American Music Hall, Pearls, and the Concord Jazz Festival.
In 1990, Rob moved to San Diego where he quickly became on of the areas most in demand bassists. In addition to leading his own trio/quartet he has worked with many notable artists. It’s a long list including Louie Bellson [see MakingMusicMag article about Louis Bellsons contributions to the drum world], Russell Malone, Charles McPherson, Curtis Fuller, Mundell Lowe, Hubert Laws, Jackie Ryan and many others.
Recently, Rob Thorsen released his fourth CD as the leader of the group Lasting Impression. The group features pianists Geoffrey Keezer and Josh Nelson, trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, saxophonist Ben Wendel, drummer Duncan Moore and others . It is on the Pacific Coast Jazz label and was released June of 2009. In addition to 4 of Rob’s original compositions it features many classic jazz songs including the Gershwin’s “The Man I Love,” Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile”, John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” and others. The album received national airplay and was on the “top 40” jazz listings for over 6 months.
He also performs regularly with the Mike Wofford/Holly Hofmann Quartet, Guitarist Mundell Lowe, saxophonist Charles McPherson, and the Gilbert Castellanos Quintet. Rob is also founder and leader of “Jazz An American Art Form.” This is a hugely successful jazz education program that was presented to over 6,000 elementary aged school children in 2011. He also teaches at the annual UCSD Jazz camp. Rob has performed at various jazz festivals including Telluride Jazz fest, Idyllwild Jazz Festival, Chiapas Jazz Festival, Ensenada Jazz Festival, Temecula Jazz festival, Glenwood Spring Jazz Festival and others. Rob was also recently featured in the San Diego Union Tribune newspapers “Into View” artist profile by George Varga.
A Chat with Rob Thorsen about Bass Life
Chuck Schiele: Tell me Rob Thorsen, what does a life as a bass player mean to you?
Chuck Schiele: What gets you interested in working with any particular artist?
Chuck Schiele: The top three habits that make you the player you are today:
2. Always being critical and objective of my playing.
Chuck Schiele: Are there things that happen in your off-stage life that factor into your onstage world?
Chuck Schiele: You’re a great listener. Please discuss the art of listening.
Chuck Schiele: What is the main role and soul of the bass as you see it?
Chuck Schiele: What would you say to a kid interested in picking up the bass?
Educational and Bass Organizations
A program I founded 10 years ago through Arts for Learning that presents a history of jazz program to students in under-served communities. Featuring trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, it’s presented to over 8,000 students annually.
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