Modern jazz composer and bassist Mark Wade is open to appreciating and co-creating great music in all its forms. Like Keith Jarrett, Wynton Marsalis and Esperanza Spaulding, he’s not limited by genre. His fourth album shows the breadth of his musicality and inventive compositional style. The original tracks found on his 2022 album True Stories were inspired by a wide range of influences, drawing on themes from composers such as Miles Davis, Charles Mingus and Igor Stravinsky. The result is a unique expression of jazz linking past to present.
Wade’s critical successes have led to him being named one of the top bassists of the year for five of the last six years in the Downbeat Magazine Reader’s Poll. He gained international recognition for his trio with the 2015 recording Event Horizon on Edition 46 Records and the 2018 follow up Moving Day on AMP Music & Records. In 2020 he launched a unique solo project - a visual album. Debuted online from the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music in Durban, South Africa, Songs from Isolation was released worldwide on AMP Music & Records. It features acoustic and electric bass and the plethora of sounds those instruments can create. The tunes are accompanied by music videos created by the bassist. (His camera and editing skills had blossomed during New York City’s COVID-19 lockdown.) That sonic and technological exploration was a fascinating prelude to his next project. True Stories is a modern jazz compendium inspired by a lifetime of listening – a leap forward fueled by looking back.
Born in Michigan, Wade moved to New Jersey as a child. He began his musical journey by teaching himself to play electric bass at age 14. At New York University, renowned bassist Mike Richmond encouraged him to take up acoustic bass for jazz and to hone bow technique and sight-reading abilities. (That also opened the door to playing European classical music.) In 1997 he earned a B.A. in music with a concentration in jazz.
In NYC, Wade has performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Blue Note, The Iridium and Birdland. He is a former artist in residence at Flushing Town Hall and tours in North America and Europe. He has played with jazz notables James Spaulding, Eddie Palmieri, Conrad Herwig, Harry Whitaker, Stacey Kent, Peter Eldridge, Don Byron and Jimmy Heath, and is a member of the Pete McGuinness Jazz Orchestra. On the classical side, he has appeared with the Key West Symphony featuring Grammy Award winners Sharon Isbin and Robert McDuffie, Orchestra of the S.E.M./Janacek Philharmonic (Czech Republic) at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, as well as Orchestra of the Bronx, Bronx Opera, DiCapo Opera and Light Opera of New York.
Mark Wade is founder and director of New Music Horizons, which promotes the work of emerging jazz and classical composers. Concert sites include the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, Flushing Town Hall, The Clemente cultural center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Sunnyside Community Services in Queens, and Art House Astoria.
He serves as artistic director for Art in the Park and the Annapolis Jazz & Roots Festival in Maryland. Formerly a teaching artist with the New York Pops, he has been on the jazz faculty at Lehigh University since 2017.
Photo: Dennis Connors