Playin’ Around With Playbook: Playbook Mentor Corbin Jones
Tristatesax here with the latest Playin’ Around with Playbook, an IGTV series where Sammy and I interview educators, performers, and artists on their life experiences and knowledge.
This past week, I spoke with Corbin Jones. California-born, Colorado-raised arranger and multi-instrumentalist Corbin Jones has credits with such artists as Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Lizzo, Lucky Daye, Lupe Fiasco, Gwen Stefani, and Kendrick Lamar. He’s performed at Coachella, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Newport Jazz Festival, Monterey Jazz Festival, the Appel Room at Jazz @ Lincoln Center, and on NPR’s Tiny Desk. A graduate of USC Thornton Jazz Studies program, Jones’ love of groove has led him to a career on not only double bass, but bass guitar, synth bass, sousaphone, baritone saxophone, and leading his own group, The Corbin Jones Big Band.
We are so thankful to have Corbin as a mentor here at Playbook! Get started learning from Corbin today with a free trial.
Below is an excerpt from our conversation on October 21st, 2021. Click here to watch the full interview.
TRISTA FORD: What inspired you to learn so many instruments?
CORBIN JONES: I’ll give you all the variables I can think of. Part of it, I will blame Disney. I grew up watching all the television, all the movies, and in a lot of disney movies, there were scenes where animals were playing instruments. There was a lot of great music and they were using real orchestras and there was some jazz in there. I was really into elephants, so I remember seeing the jungle book, dumbo even, tarzan, where there were scenes where the elephants were like a tuba kind of sound. I drew the connection really early on and I was like oh this is what I like to do. This is a sound that I enjoy. I didn’t get access to tuba for a long time, I started playing violin because my parents were like you should play an instrument. I had a poster of all the instruments in the orchestra and I was like, I’m going to play that, I’m going to play that. I switched from violin to bass. When I felt my first low frequency instrument, I felt it vibrate against my body and I was like wow. They all just really resonated with me. So my order would be upright bass, electric bass, and then I got hip to James Brown and I learned baritone saxophone. And then I was getting into new orleans music and I started playing sousaphone.
TF: Describe a favorite experience performing.
CJ: If I had to pick just one, it has actually happened several times I guess, but it’s just one type of instance. I was playing a show here in LA with my band and the power went out. So all the cool instruments, the dj sounds, all the cool sounds that we all love were gone. Because someone flipped a switch. But the music didn’t stop. It was just drums and horn. That’s one of my favorite parts about the Sousaphone; I still get to play the bass even when the power goes out. That really stood out to me, whenever the power goes out and we still keep playing music. This will never ever go away.
TF: Why do you believe platforms like Playbook are so important?
CJ: Especially considering last year, and I’ll add, especially considering this year, we were not able to be together but we were still making music. And that’s a big deal. This year, a lot of our world is like hey we tried stuff last year that we don’t want to throw away. This year is the first year we are using that kind of hybrid model.This is the like back to the future type stuff. Considering that, the fact that a band class in nowhere Colorado could connect to musicians in New York City, which is where I wished I was when I was in colorado. To me, that’s just the coolest thing ever. I wish I had access to not only a really intimate way of hearing them play and practice, but then you could also connect with them and actually send them a message and hear back. It’s pretty amazing to have that resource and that kind of mentorship and inside scoop from a student perspective.