PUBLISHED: 2:31 PM on Wednesday, March 9, 2005
Juneau-born musician to share his love for the bass

  Jack Unzicker
Juneau-born musician and double bass player Jack Unzicker returns to his home town this week for a series of double bass events March 11-19.

Unzicker, who was recently appointed Principal Bassist of the Plano Symphony Orchestra in Plano, Tx, has performed as principal bassist with the Dallas Chamber, Texas Chamber, and the University of North Texas Chamber Orchestras, among many others, performed solo recitals in the United States and abroad. He's also member of the innovative bass quartet "Downright Upright," a group that plays music ranging "from jazz and improvisations to Frank Zappa tunes," he said.

During his return to Juneau, Unzicker will offer workshops, including technique classes and a solo masterclass, planned for Saturday, March 12, 2:30-6:30 at the JDHS music room. A recital with several Juneau musicians is in the works, though a firm date had not been set at the deadline of this issue of the CCW.

Unzicker has also been working with the school district to set up a schedule for visiting schools for lecture/demonstration presentations.

"The reason I would like to do that was that it was something I was never exposed to when I was in school," Unzicker said from his home in Texas on Sunday. "I didn't see or hear anyone play the bass until I was in college; there weren't any bass players in Juneau."

Even though there are bass players here today, Unzicker said he wants to show off the huge range of possibilities the bass has, teach young students about how the instrument is made, about the different materials it's made from, and also talk about the life of a musician.

When he goes into class rooms, Unzicker said he tries to find out from the teacher what's on the curriculum for the near future and tie his teaching to other subjects than music.

"In Geography, for example, I can talk about the different woods from South America, Africa, the Pacific Northwest [that the bass is made from]. I talk about different musical styles from Italy, Argentina... Or, of course depending on grade, we can talk about the actual physics involved in producing the sound."

Unzicker is also on a mission to turn future musicians on to the bass. When students are going to choose instruments, he said, they often don't have any idea of what's possible to play on the bass.

"If you can show them early on the very limitless possibilities, it'll keep them excited about playing. The range of styles you can play on a bass is really amazing - you don't hear too much jazz from a cello..."

But the double bass, he said, is suitable for many different styles -Efrom tango, salsa and jazz to classical chamber and orchestra music. And the bass is also an excellent solo instrument, Unzicker said -Esomething he didn't realize growing up here because it just wasn't very common then.

Unzicker graduated with a BA in music, magna cum laude, and receiving the College of Music Outstanding Graduate Award from Western Washington University and has also studied at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and Orchestral Musicians, and the Henry Mancini Institute. He is now a candidate for Master of Music Degrees in both double bass performance and orchestral conducting.

In addition to being an active performer, Unzicker has taught privately for almost fifteen years - both private lessons and classes including an Introduction to Double Bass Orchestral Repertoire, Audition Preparation, Solo Masterclasses, and a Technique Class.

Unzicker hasn't been to Juneau since 1998, and said he's excited about returning and sharing what he's learned.