I am a bassist with twenty-nine years of professional experience as a performer, instructor and composer of jazz music. I first started playing the electric bass at the age of sixteen and double bass at the age of nineteen. I took electric bass lessons with three different private teachers and played jazz in numerous ensembles before I commenced jazz studies in Arnhem (Netherlands) in 1991. My aim was to audition and continue my studies at the prestigious Folkwang Hochschule in Essen (Germany) after my first year in Holland. I was accepted at Folkwang Hochschule in 1992 into third year and graduated in 1994 awarded with a Diplom Jazz Musiker (Diploma in Jazz).
I was influenced by the great bass players of that time during my early career. Just like almost every other serious bass player, I started transcribing and copying soli and bass lines and practicing licks, trying to sound like one of the ‘greats’.
Very soon I came to the conclusion that this way of learning may be helpful in the initial stages of my learning, but will inevitably lead to copying other player’s styles and ideas. Because I wanted to develop a unique sound, I almost completely stopped transcribing and playing licks and focused on studying technique, tone material and rhythm.
The teaching philosophy of the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen supported my idea of stylistic independence, an idea that shaped my overall approach to performing, creating and teaching music.
I began working at the University of Auckland as a lecturer in 2004. Apart from my principal instrument, the bass, I have taught improvisation classes, theory and composition lectures, and special topics and supervised numerous postgraduate students. My teaching style is shaped by the same philosophy which later became the driving idea behind this DMA research project: The Personalization of Technique on Jazz Bass.
His roots lie in Gipsy Swing music, the style pioneered in the 1930s by the legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Joscho Stephan has not merely absorbed this music, but also interprets it on the highest level and is actively engaged in extending its boundaries. Despite his youth, after four highly acclaimed CDs and a DVD he has played his way into the illustrous circle of the finest Gipsy Swing musicians in the world.
Great jazz musicians such as Paquito de Rivera, James Carter, Charlie Mariano or Grady Tate enthusiastically praised the talented newcomer after performing together.He has toured Australia with top guitarists Martin Taylor and Tommy Emmanuel and has performed with his own bands (trio to quintett) on numerous important European festivals (among others in Slovenia, Italy, France, Poland and the UK).
His concert appearances in New York’s Lincoln Center or the American country capital Nashville were equally well-received, as were his perfomances in the New Yorker jazz shrine Birdland.
Across the board, the press only has good things to say about Joscho Stephan. His debut “Swinging Strings” was named CD of the month by American magazine Guitar Player. In the words of the highly regarded Acoustic Guitar Magazine, he is the guarantor for the future of Gipsy jazz guitar.