For well over a decade, Dr. Jeff Denson has been carving out his highly individual musical identity through his daring compositions and performing and recording not only his own music but also along side some of the legends of jazz and contemporary music around the world. He holds the unique distinction of simultaneously building his acclaimed international performing/composing career while earning the highest academic credentials. He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Contemporary Music Performance with an Emphasis in Composition from the University of California San Diego.

The activities and classes described below are available as an integrated residency or individually. A residency would consist of a tailored package of activities over a series of days (at least 2).

Mastering the instrument

These classes focus upon developing the skills to properly master the instrument itself in order to perform in any and all varieties of musical settings and genres. Dr. Denson, a master bassist, offers a full scope of technique training for bassists at all levels. Sessions are available both for limited sized and private studies.

  • Left Hand Technique – Demystifying the Fingerboard
  • Arco Technique – The Bow as an Extension of the Arm
  • Pizzicato Technique – The Right Hand as the Motor
  • Double Bass Ensemble – Playing Well With Others

The Jazz Musician

These activities focus upon the unique challenges and circumstances specific to the art of Jazz. The jazz musician must not only possess highly developed technical skills, but also must have an awareness of the history and the full spectrum of genres that cover the wide range of Jazz expression. As a bassist experienced in virtually every area of jazz performance, Dr. Denson offers a full slate of classes and workshops, covering both the art of improvisation and fully exploring the intrinsic role the jazz bassist plays throughout virtually the entire jazz performance.


In addition to mastery of the instrument, jazz demands a mastery of the technique of improvisation both as a soloist and as a supporting member of the ensemble who must react and sometimes spur forward the thrust of the music with spontaneity and creativity.

  • Introduction to Improvisation – Concepts in Improvising
  • Chord Tone Soloing – Triads: Targeting the Heart of the Chord
  • Free Improvisation – Open Ears/Open Minds
  • Exploration of Timbre – Tone Color: A Distinct Consideration in Jazz

Form and Substance

Understanding the nature of the ensemble, the musical direction and the overarching goal of the leader (as sideman) are elements that are absolutely necessary for the finest jazz musicians.

  • Freedom within Forms – Stretching the Form
  • Group Interaction – Engaging in Musical Conversations

Performing Professionally

These activities focus upon the challenges of applying the technical skills to public artistry.

Artistic Identity

The professional artist has to make certain choices in terms of how to express one’s artistry. Dr. Denson will delve into the variety of elements that are crucial to taking full stock of one’s aspirations and options for a realistic perspective and a sensible plan of action that can result in a productive approach to fulfilling the heart’s desires and being responsible to the realities of life.

  • Diversification – Piecing it Together: The Making of a Modern Artist
  • The Personal Statement – Creating Your Own Musical World

Your Own Ensemble

Being a leader demands far more than simply having a personal artistic vision. There are many elements of economic issues, personal relationships, team participation and strategic planning that go into the often difficult world of leading your own group. Dr. Denson’s experience as a leader, co-leader and cooperative member has given him a broad insight into how to handle this challenging situation.

  • The Composer/Bandleader – You Have Your Music….Now What?
  • Cooperatives/Collectives – Splitting the Pie

Dealing with Adversity

Every artist will encounter unique challenges, physically, emotionally and economically in the pursuit of both artistry and professional success. In these activities, Dr. Denson will delve into his own personal experiences in confronting and overcoming these challenges.

  • Recovering from Injury – Using Your Time Productively