Internationally acclaimed Bassist and Chapman Stick artist Alphonso Johnson has accumulated numerous performing, recording, teaching, producing, composing and publishing credits during his illustrious career. His touring and recording credits read like a “Who’s Who” of jazz and fusion, and he is considered one of the top performers in the world on his instrument.
Alphonso studied bass at the Philadelphia Music Academy with John Lamb, former bassist with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. His touring career began when he was seventeen, and it was at this time that he also began to develop his own style of fusion music. At the age of twenty-one, Alphonso toured the world with the Woody Herman Orchestra, with which he recorded the album "The Raven Speaks." He then joined the Chuck Mangione Quartet and played on the album “The Land of Make Believe.” Wayne Shorter heard Alphonso with the Mangione group and asked him to record the album “Mysterious Traveler” with the group Weather Report. Alphonso co-wrote two songs for the album and toured with the band from 1975 to 1976, during which time he recorded his first solo album for CBS/Epic titled "Moonshadows."
In 1976, Alphonso became fascinated with the Chapman Stick, a ten-stringed electric touchboard. He recorded a second album “Yesterdays Dreams” for CBS/Epic. A year later, he recorded his third album, "Spellbound," featuring the Chapman Stick. In 1979, he toured the United States with the CBS All-Stars (Tom Scott, Billy Cobham, and Steve Kahn) and recorded a live album in England with rock artist Rod Argent. That same year Alphonso received a Grammy Nomination for Best R&B Instrumental for the album "Street Life" with the group The Crusaders.
Alphonso’s first film scoring attempt, which was a soundtrack for a children's film entitled “Sound of Sunshine......... Sounds of Rain” in 1983, netted him an Academy Award Nomination for Best Animated Film. A year later he joined Santana and with that group toured in Europe with Bob Dylan and recorded the album “Real Live” from that tour. Alphonso was also featured on Santana’s “Beyond Appearances” for which he co-wrote two compositions. That group also contributed a performance to the Live Aid concert which was simulcast around the world by satellite.
A summary of his many touring and performing credits includes: Santana, Weather Report, The Crusaders, Bob Weir, Chuck Mangione, George Duke, En Vogue, Wayne Shorter, Sergio Mendes, Tony Williams, Joe Williams, and Gregory Hines. Discography credits include albums and CD’s with Woody Herman, Weather Report, Eddie Henderson, Flora Purim, Quincy Jones, Lee Ritenour, Phil Collins, The Whispers, John McLaughlin, Jeffrey Osborne, Sarah Vaughan, Dori Caymmi, Carl Anderson, and The Meeting. Alphonso has appeared on Don Kirschner’s In Concert (with Weather Report), the Arsenio Hall Show (with Santana) and the Johnny Carson Show (with The Meeting), as well as in an MTV Video (with Jeffrey Osborne).
Alphonso’s teaching experience is as extensive and impressive as his work in performing, recording, touring and producing. Institutions and organizations for which he has taught include the Mesar Hause Institute of Music in Tokyo (Japan), the Bass School of Music in Koln (Germany), the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, the National Guitar Summer Workshop, and the California Institute of the Arts. He has conducted bass seminars and clinics in Germany, England, France, Scotland, Ireland, Japan, Switzerland, Australia, Brazil and Argentina. In 1997 Alphonso was asked to become the director of the bass department at The Los Angeles Music Academy in Pasadena, California.
Alphonso has also contributed a chapter in “The Guitar Teacher’s Handbook” published by Oxford University Press. He wrote “The Bass Guitar,” which was also published by The Oxford University Press in 1994. In addition, he wrote a chapter in Lessons with the Greats, which was published by DCI/Belwin in 1993.
In 1995 Alphonso was asked to become a member of the group Abraxas, which is comprised of all the original members of the group Santana. They released their debut album, "Abraxas Pool," in 1997 on the Miramar recording label.
In 1998 & 1999 Alphonso toured with the group Jazz Is Dead with Billy Cobham (Miles Davis), T. Lavitz (Dixie Dregs) and Jimmy Herring (Aquarian Rescue Unit), paying tribute to the late Jerry Garcia.
Early in 2000, Alphonso was asked to join Further Festival 2000 and play with former Grateful Dead members (Mickey Hart, Bruce Hornsby, Bill Kreutzman, and Bob Weir) in The Other Ones. The band toured last fall and got together for two shows over New Year's weekend.
Alphonso returned to Jazz Is Dead early in spring of 2001 for a successful tour with a new lineup and a new sound: Alphonso, Lavitz, and Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs) toured with guitarist Jeff Pevar (CPR, Phil Lesh & Friends), who brought a different feel to Jazz Is Dead, and he and Alphonso introduced vocals to the group for the first time. The band also went out for a brief eastern tour in late summer.
The last half of 2001 found Alphonso busy on the road, touring with both Gregg Rolie Band and Steve Kimock Band. Both bands hit the road again this spring.
Alphonso went into the studio in 2002 with DKG Music recording artist Rhian Benson finishing her CD which is scheduled for release in March 2003. He is also on tour with the Gregg Rolie Band which features Santana alumni Michael Carabello on congas and Adrian Aireas (son of Chepito Aireas) on timbales.
In the fall of 2004 Alphonso was appointed to a teaching position at The University of Southern California as an adjunct associate professor of the Jazz Studies Department. Here he will be teaching bass students as well as guiding The ELF Ensemble, which is an eleven piece jazz ensemble.
Through the years, the Los Angeles music scene has become a proving ground for first-rate bass playing. It’s where players can go from underdog to top dog; where musicians get together to jam at The Baked Potato, Spazios, or Charlie O's; and where bassists continue to flock to set the standard for others to uphold. Following in that rich tradition is Adam Cohen, who has earned a reputation as one of L.A.’s top-notch pluckers.
His sensitive yet powerful accompaniment and lyrical soloing has – in addition to making him a favorite among artists, bands, and composers – also put him in the challenging yet satisfying position as leader of his own band.
Indeed, Adam’s prowess on both the upright and 6-string electric bass has led to live and/or recording stints with a wide array of artists, including Grant Geissman, Ernie Watts, Ray Charles, John Klemmer, Maxine Nightingale, Scott Wilkie, and Tim Weisberg.
As a recording artist, Cohen’s playing and composing is showcased on his two solo albums – 1994’s Gig Bag and the soon-to-be-released Ritual. As an educator, Cohen also participates in clinics and is on the faculty of the Los Angeles Music Academy in Pasadena, CA. Interestingly enough, piano—not bass—is the foundation of Adam Cohen’s development.
Born in Queens, New York, Adam’s introduction to music began at age 5 in the form of piano lessons given by his father. At age 14, his attraction to the sound of the bass as both a supportive and melodic instrument led him to private study with classical bassist Frank Blake. In addition to his lessons on the acoustic bass, Adam began honing his electric bass chops by emulating the styles of Verdine White, Paul McCartney, Peter Cetera, Stanley Clarke and Francis “Rocco” Prestia.
While still in high school, Adam got the position as bassist for the local college jazz ensemble. This led to an increasing interest in jazz music and the early development of a solo voice on the bass. The next several years brought numerous experiences and challenges to Adam; bassist with the L.A. City College Jazz Band, road work, club gigs and further study with the likes of Bunny Brunel, John Novello, Jeff Berlin, and Gary Willis.
When it comes to soloing, Cohen says, “I’ve always sought to emulate the lyricism and phrasing of horn-players, pianists and guitarists. At the same time, I don’t want to ignore the inherent qualities and responsibilities of my chosen instrument.”
Abraham Laboriel, Sr. (b. July 17, 1947) Abraham Laboriel is a world renowned bassist and the founder of the band KOINONIA. He was born and raised in Mexico City where he received his earliest musical training from his father, a gifted guitarist and composer. His first recording was at age 10 as part of a "rock and roll" group called "Los Traviesos".
After performing in Mexico thru his teen years as both a musician and an actor, he moved to Boston where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition from the Berklee School of Music in 1972. During that time he recorded with faculty member, famed vibraphonist Gary Burton. He traveled with Johnny Mathis, Michel Legrand, and Henry Mancini and moved to Los Angeles in 1976 to begin a very diverse and fruitful studio recording career.
Abe has played on over 3,000 recordings and soundtracks. Guitar Player Magazine described him as: "the most widely used session bassist of our time". Laboriel is the father of drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. He swiched to bass guitar while studying at the Berklee School of Music. Henry Mancini encouraged Laboriel to move to Los Angeles, California and pursue a career in music. Since then, he has worked with artists as diverse as George Benson, Larry Carlton, the Crusaders, Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Grusin, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, Al Jarreau, John Klemmer, Manhattan Transfer, Joe Pass, Joe Sample, Lalo Shifrin, Diane Schuur, Sara Vaughan, Stevie Wonder, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Elton John, Ray Charles, Madonna, Paul Simon, Keith Green, Lisa Loeb, Quincy Jones, Russ Taff, Engelbert Humperdinck, Crystal Lewis, Chris Isaak, Michael Jackson, and Joe Zawinul. He recorded with Lee Ritenour, Ernie Watts, and Alex Acuna in a band called "Friendship" and has continued to record and travel with Lee and Dave Grusin for GRP Records. He also has been much in demand for work with artists like Lionel Richie, Quincy Jones, Jeffrey Osborne, Chaka Khan, Robbie Robertson, Kenny Rogers, Kenny Loggins, Ruben Blades and countless others.
He was in fact voted by his peers in the LA Chapter of NARAS as the "Most Valuable Player" in the Bass chair for the three years in a row, joining Ray Brown and Chuck Domanico in that honor. When Laboriel recorded his three solo albums (Dear Friends, Guidum ,and Justo & Abraham), he recruited a cast of musicians that included Alex Acuna, Jarreau, Jim Keltner, Phillip Bailey, and others.
Laboriel was a founding member of the bands, Friendship and Koinonia.