Tales Episode 09: Sean Conly

Image by Frank Rubolino

Bassist, composer and arranger Sean Conly is another notable musician with an impressive multiple musical language background. He has played with such legendary greats as Andrew Hill, Russ Lossing, Ray Barretto, Freddie Hubbard, Cedar Walton, Randy Brecker, Howard Alden and Lew Tabackin to name a few. I had the pleasure of meeting him while working with the Michael Franks’s band. Besides the road life we share, he and I also perform at local gigs in and around New York City. He is the principal bassist on my tribute CD “The Art of Michael Franks”.

On May 30 & 31 I have the honor and gratification to play with Sean at the upcoming Eric Dolphy: Freedom of Sound. A two-day festival held at Montclair State University Auditorium in Montclair, NJ. This event is the first of many produced by Seed Artists, Inc.

When I first met Sean I must admit that I was a bit intimidated by him. He had an intensity of focus that made me reluctant to engage in idle conversation. But that was an error in my perception, because as our friendship and musical relationship developed, I experienced another side to him; which to this very day inspired me to never ignore the direction the heart tells you to go when broadening your musical horizons. It takes courage to stand on something you believe in, but most of all it takes love to do what you love. And when you that happens, you find that all roads lead to your mission in life.

Creativity – Art should help us meditate. Communion with reality. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh stated, “A creative person brings something from the unknown into the world of the known.” Our mission as artists is to remove the veil that hides the miraculous spirit of deep contact.

Sean Conly’s reverent and embolden approach to his performances, highlight his multifarious musical background and from the listener’s perspective one feels privy to a very intimate and special relationship between the player, his instrument and the music.

Using his extensive repertoire, which consists of all of the diverse languages of music, Sean impressively speaks while he subtly builds a bridge between the unknown and the known. Isn’t that what being truly creative is really all about?

About Sean Conly

Sean Conly is a bassist (electric/contrabass) and composer whose love and affection for a huge spectrum of the world’s music have made him an extremely versatile performer. As a player and a writer, Sean is constantly looking for ways to mix the traditional with the new, in a never-ending journey to mix melody harmony rhythm and sound into a unique artistic voice.

Born in Gunnison Colorado, raised in Topeka Kansas, he has been obsessed with music for his entire life. At age six, Sean began playing guitar and writing songs trying to emulate the music his parents loved such as the Beatles, The Doors and Harry Nilsson. In the school band Sean played percussion but as his teen years began and he wanted to start a band he picked up the electric bass. “My grandmother bought me a bass for Christmas when I was thirteen. It came with a Mel Bay method book which I stayed up most of the night devouring and then the next morning I went to a band tryout .” Within A few months, Sean started to play around town. For the rest of his teens he played in numerous bands performing in venues across the Midwest. Sean was already a voracious listener and was spending many nights glued to the radio discovering any and all kinds of music. Punk funk rock metal r/b and many more styles were all in constant rotation. Eventually, It was thru these nighttime binges that he became more and more attracted to jazz and improvised music from such artists as Charle Mingus The Revolutionary Ensemble and Ornette Coleman and Jaco Pastorius.
After high school, Sean moved to Kansas City to attend the UMKC Conservatory of Music where he began to study the Contrabass, but his real education happened on the bandstand with local legends such as Ahmad Alaadeen, Tim (Timbone) Williams, Jay McShann, Claude “fiddler” Williams Rich Hill, Norman “Bishop” Williams, Horace Washington and many others.

Studying in the days and working 4 or 5 nights a week helped him solidify his playing, He also started to write and arrange music for his own groups, and for the university’s jazz orchestra and for mentor Ahmad Alaadeen. Kansas City had a lot to offer, but Sean had always had his eyes set on moving to New York City, so in an attempt to learn more and to bridge the gap between NYC and KC, he moved to Paterson New Jersey to study under Rufus Reid at William Paterson University.
A year later he moved to Manhattan, where he has resided ever since. Since then he has gone on to tour the world and/or record with a diverse list of artists such as Gregory Tardy, Freddie Hubbard, Regina Carter, Ray Barretto, Charles Blenzig, Michael Franks, Tom Harrell, Andrew Hill, Nicholas Payton, Stefon Harris, Yoron Israel, Eric Lewis, Deidre Murray, John Mcneil, Timucin Sahin, James Moody , Mike Stern, Rick Margitza, Michael Attias, Tony Malaby , Myron Walden, Phillip Harper, Russ Lossing, Anthony Coleman, Avishai Cohen (trpt), Ayelet Rose Gottleib, Vana Gehrig Trio, Darius Jones, Ken Vandermark/Steve Swell Quartet, The Newport Millennium Celebration (with Cedar Walton, Randy Brecker, Howard Alden, Lou Tobackin, Francisco Mela, Paula West, Joe Fiedler’s “Stunt Chicken”, Iranian singer/songwriter Mohsen Namjoo and many, many others.

As a band leader or co/ leader he has performed with several stellar groups over the years starting with The Invisibles featuring Ben Monder, Tony Malaby, John OGalliger and Tony Moreno, Re:Action with Michael Attias Tony Malaby and Pheeroan Aklaff, Grassroots with Darius Jones, Chad Taylor and Alex Harding, High Low Brow with Mike Pride and Mary Halvorson, Think Shadow with Michael Attias, The True North Project, featuring Tom Rainey and Kris Davis and also performs solo. , . In May 2018 Cleanfeed will release a new trio Recording ”Hard Knocks” featuring saxophonist Michaël Attias and Satoshi Takeishi on drums. In 2019 He released “Live at the Bushwick Series with Michael Attias and Tom Rainey. In 2021 “The Buzz” will be released on 577 Records featuring Francisco Mela and Leo Genovese.

Sean is also an in-demand Teacher. He has given clinics on four continents and since 2009 has been on the faculty of The Collective School of Music (thecollective.edu). In 2017 He was chosen as the recipient educator in The Alaadeen Jazz Master/Apprentice program and in 2018 was an Judge at the Notre Dame Jazz Fest.

Taken from Sean Conly website bio

Tales from the Jazzside