Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


July/August 2017: Anna-Lisa Kirby

Marc Tugby

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Marc Tugby is one of a bright new crop of young jazz bassists in Winnipeg. You may have seen him with the U of M Jazz Orchestra, or with a student ensemble kicking things off at the Izzy Asper Jazz Performances, or holding down the bass at the Cool Wednesday Night Hang. He’s quietly dedicated, a stickler for detail. Marc was one of a trio of go-getters who got a Monday night jam session to lift off at the Vinyl Revival a year ago; sadly, the Vinyl Revival has just announced it’s closing, but I have no doubt you’ll see Marc on lots of other stages around town. He’s lifting off! 

How did you come to the bass?

I started playing electric bass when I was 11, and moved to upright when I was 16, but my first memory of the bass was years earlier. When I was about three, my mom took me to see her friend’s trio. When I saw the upright bass for the first time, my eyes lit up and I said to my mom, “I wanna play that guitar!”

What really draws me to the bass is how much control the instrument has over the groove. With the bass, you’re responsible for both the rhythmic and melodic foundation of each song. A good bass line can really make all the difference!

Will you talk about who has inspired and influenced you?

This might sound a little corny, but my biggest inspiration would have to be my mentor Steve Kirby. Steve has taught me since before I had my own upright bass to practice on. He has shown me everything from the basics of building a bass line to how to make other people sound good with my bass playing—and everything in between.

Quincy Davis is the biggest influence next to Steve. Quincy taught me how to really listen to the musicians I’m playing with, and how to react to what they’re playing. He’s helped me understand the language of music.

A lot of great musicians have helped shape my philosophy. When Quincy’s brother Xavier Davis was in town, he said, “Your job as a musician is to make your audience forget about their lives for a while.” Joel Frahm told me, “All the notes have been played before, so just try and suit the moment as best you can.” I’m inspired by interviews with Roy Hargrove, Clark Terry, Avishai Cohen, Chris Potter, Ron Carter, Cyrille Aimée, Christian McBride…. The important thing that connects all of them is that they’re good people with good hearts. I think that’s more important than anything.

Who’s on your playlist at the moment?

I’m currently listening to the Oscar Peterson Trio Live at the London House. The musicianship on that album is incredible. It’s unbelievable how they can make a piano trio sound as full as a big band! I’ve spent a lot of time transcribing Ray Brown’s bass lines from that album. I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to Chris Potter’s Follow the Red Line: Live at the Village Vanguard. The Chris Potter Underground Quartet took the sound and energy of funk, combined it with the freedom of jazz, and pursued it seriously with incredible results.

What projects are you involved with now?

I’m just getting back on the scene after a few months recovering from tendonitis in my left hand. I had to spend a long time away from the instrument, which was hard. On the bright side, I’ve had to work on the very basics of my technique and I think that’s helped my overall sound. I’ve also started a quintet with some friends. We’re bringing in original tunes and arrangements. It’s a lot of fun working with such a motivated and talented group of individuals—hopefully you’ll hear more about that in the near future!

What has studying jazz taught you?

I’ve learned that if you take care of the music, the music will take care of you. Also that it’s more important to be a good person than a good musician.


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