Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music alumnus Jonathan Bass started his musical path like many others. He first got involved with music as a child, taking piano lessons. Later, he played in a band and discovered that guitar was his passion.
Bass received his Bachelor of Music in Guitar Performance from the University of Southern Mississippi. During his time there he studied classical guitar, although he was equally enthusiastic about jazz. It wasn’t until he and his family moved back to Memphis that he was able to start his graduate degree in jazz at the University of Memphis. In 2011, Bass graduated from the UofM with a Master of Music in Jazz Studies, concentration in guitar. That same year he began teaching at Northwest Mississippi Community College, where he still currently teaches a number of classes including guitar, improvisation, jazz ensembles and music appreciation.
Not only is Bass a versatile and skilled musician, but also an entrepreneur. Since his time at the University of Memphis, Bass founded the Liturgical Guitar Project and co-founded Muddy Pig Productions. The Liturgical Guitar Project “actively seeks to expand the literature of sacred music for solo guitar,” he says. Bass uses Gregorian Chant, Lutheran cantatas, hymns and motets as the foundation for original compositions and arrangements. Through his work there, he was inspired to publish “Solo Guitar Hymnal,” a book that consists of some of the works created in the Project.
When asked how he got interested in liturgical works, he credited his studies at The University of Memphis. “One of my favorite courses in graduate school was under Dr. Kreitner ̶ his Renaissance Music course,” said Bass, “That’s what got me into liturgical music.”
As for Muddy Pig Productions, Bass and his co-founder Carl Caspersen created the business with the goal of helping promote Memphis musicians. As stated on their website they “make sounds with artists and seek to lift up the creative goodness of Memphis.” Bass wanted to help Memphis become more than just a steppingstone for musicians. He says, “Memphis has a history of being an incubator for talent, and we want it to be a destination to start and develop the career.” One of the ways that Muddy Pig Productions works on raising awareness and promoting artists is through their podcast, Memphis Machine.
Through his work within the musical community of Memphis, Bass connected with Crosstown Arts. Recently he was a featured artist with Crosstown Arts’ Against the Grain initiative, created to support Memphis musicians. With this initiative the featured artist has a page where the public can watch a performance video and support the artist by buying a virtual ticket. You can find Bass’s page here.
The Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music is always excited to see its alumni doing great things, especially when one like Jonathan Bass is working so hard to help build the community that we are a part of here in Memphis.