Drew Gress

With decades of experience under his belt, it wouldn’t be hard to argue that bassist Drew Gress is one of the most gifted, versatile, and innovative players on his instrument today. He’s been a longtime companion of pianist Copland in trios, quartets, and (lately) in duo as well. But Copland’s got a lot of competition; Gress’s credits in recent years read like a “who’s who in jazz” — John Abercrombie, Ralph ­Alessi, Tim Berne, Don Byron, Ravi Coltrane, Jack deJohnette, Dave Douglas, and John Hollenbeck. And did we mention pianists? Copland’s not the only one who relies on Gress: there’s Uri Caine, Bill Carrothers, Sylvie Courvoisier, Fred Hersch, Randy Ingram, and many others. He’s adept at playing all varieties of jazz, and demand for him shows no sign of slowing down. Drew is also a gifted composer, as one can hear on the beautiful “Figment” from Copland’s “And I Love Her” (Illusions/Mirage). A bandleader in his own right, Gress’s output includes Heyday, 7 Black Butterflies, and Irrational Numbers, all of which garnered raves from the press (5 star ratings on view at allmusic.com). Critic John Fordham of the Guardian described a performance by Gress’s group as “one of the great jazz performances in Britain this year.” In 2004, the UK’s BBC Radio and the Guardian selected his quartet’s live broadcast as “Jazz concert of the year.” A respected educator, Gress has taught at the Peabody Conservatory and Western Connecticut State University. He has been artist-in-residence at University of Colorado-Boulder and Russia’s St. Petersburg Conservatory.

(Photo Credit Monika S. Jakubowska)