Rob Thorsen | Lasting Impression

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Jazz: Soul-Jazz Latin: Latin Jazz Moods: Featuring Bass
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Lasting Impression

by Rob Thorsen

An upbeat mix of funky jazz and latin music featuring pianist Geoffrey Keezer, trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos and others- super high energy.
Genre: Jazz: Soul-Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Dexterity
6:50 album only
2. Giant Steps
6:32 album only
3. Little Melonae
6:18 album only
4. Smile
7:10 album only
5. Milagro Cafe
8:56 album only
6. the Man I Love
6:30 album only
7. Dance of the Freaky Circles
8:45 album only
8. Cigarones
9:21 album only
9. It's All right with Me
5:43 album only
10. Wish on Us
3:13 album only


Album Notes
Composer and bassist Rob Thorsen’s new release, “Lasting Impression,” takes us on a
journey through an audible photo gallery of contrasts, colors, shades of light and space.
Although he has focused on musical landscapes before as a leader on three previous
CD’s, his current project demonstrates an evolution and maturity as a composer and
musician that clearly raises the bar. Rob is a devoted and seasoned instrumentalist,
equally confident with standards and original compositions, whose bass sings with a
warmth and creative spirit while maintaining an engaging interactive dialogue with the
ensemble. “As a creative musician one can never be sedentary in approaching a
performance, whether it is live or recorded. Clearly, the musicians on this CD
completely dedicated themselves to making this a stimulating and inventive musical
endeavor,” remarked Thorsen.
Thorsen credits his mother for his musicality as she surrounded their home in San
Diego, California with her classical guitar sounds and textile arts skills. To that end it is
obvious why Rob developed a knack for weaving instrumental textures in his music
through various combinations of timbres and sonorities and has a special interest in
visual arts through his own photography. Thorsen describes his concept for the current
project: “I took the jazz quintet format and added or subtracted instruments as I needed
for particular songs. There is one solo track, two trios, three quartets, three quintet
pieces, and one sextet. The sextet uses alto flute, bassoon, and flugelhorn. I like using
different combinations of players as good musicians adapt immediately to different
group situations - it helps create a variety of sounds on the recording.”
Rob is no stranger to different instrumental sounds since starting out playing baritone
ukulele at age six, switching to classical guitar at eight, then flute, saxophone and tuba
through High School and finally buying his first electric bass at a garage sale in San
Francisco at nineteen. In his twenties he discovered the upright bass and that became
his one true love beginning a long career that started with his first gig on a cruise ship.
What made Rob gravitate to the bass was the fact, as he describes, “that you feel as
much as you hear when playing an acoustic bass due to its amazing design physically
as far as projecting low frequency sound. I’ve worked at developing a good sound with
the bow as well,” continued Thorsen, “It completely changes the character of the
instrument and gives the player many vocal-like opportunities.“
He became interested and motivated in learning jazz after hearing some of the old Dave
Brubeck recordings his mom had along with Cannonball Adderly’s, “Live in San
Francisco” and Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s, “I Talk With the Spirits.” Although mostly self
taught on bass, Rob attended the Musicians Institute in Hollywood and the University of
Miami giving him the opportunity to practice and work on theory and arranging. Besides
private lessons in the past with Bert Turetzsky, Bob Magnusson, Rufus Reid and John
Clayton, he currently continues to advance his skills by studying with Susan Wulff,
assistant principal in the San Diego Symphony, and occasionally with the great alto
saxophonist, Charles McPherson.
According to Rob, he has always loved playing music and “the feeling of performing
music live is like no other. I would not want to be doing anything else as it brings a lot of
joy into people’s lives.” Thorsen has literally performed with a list of who’s who in music
and entertainment: Kenny Burrell, Anthony Wilson, Russell Malone, Mundell Lowe, Nick
Brignola, Louis Bellson, Nestor Torres, Richie Cole, Bucky Pizzarelli, Ricky Woodard,
Jackie Ryan, Lorna Luft, Laurindo Almeida, Hank Crawford, Ernie Watts, Marvin
Hamlish, Steve Turre, Monica Mancini, Charles McPherson, Holly Hofmann, Mike
Wofford, Jon Hendricks, Frankie Capp, the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, James Moody, Bill
Cunliffe, Brian Lynch, Eric Reed, Jeff Hamilton, Kenny Rankin, Don Rickles, John
Lithgow, and as he humbly adds, “a bunch of others too.”
Besides his contributions on other artist’s recordings, Rob has produced his own CD’s:
“First Impression”, Evolution” and “Moon Ray,” garnering noted reviews and radio
airplay. He has an extensive list of venues where he has performed at throughout his
career as both a sideman and leader that include: The Great American Music Hall,
Kimballs, Yoshi's, the Concord Jazz Festival, Newport Beach Jazz Party, Glenwood
Springs Festival and tours in Mexico and Germany. “I love the creative possibilities of
playing with other musicians and the interaction that occurs when everybody is listening
and reacting off one another,” shared Rob. “For me there are two kinds of musicians in
the world, those that listen and those that don’t.”
It will not take long to recognize that on “Lasting Impression” Thorsen has surrounded
himself with those musicians that listen: Geoffrey Keezer and Josh Nelson (piano),
Gilbert Castellanos (trumpet and flugelhorn), Ben Wendel (tenor sax and bassoon),
Duncan Moore (drums), John Rekovics (alto flute), and Charlie Chavez (congas). The
diversity of these musicians strengthens Rob’s musical vision of creating a tapestry of
sonic personalities and cultures through the music of recognized jazz greats (Charlie
Parker, John Coltrane, George Gerswin, etc.) along with his own original compositions
that echo the landscapes of Costa Rica. Just like Duke Ellington, Rob’s compositional
approach relies on the qualities of each of the musician’s talents resulting in a cohesive
and unique result. He often leans towards emotional musicianship as opposed to
technical virtuosity, which explains why the music on the CD touches the sensitive
vulnerability of the listener. In the end Rob Thorsen succeeds in delivering a remarkable
“Lasting Impression.”

1) Dexterity – This song was written by the legendary Charlie Parker and showcases
the complexity of Bebop melodic lines. I arranged it with a New Orleans “2nd Line”
groove with a unison bass and trumpet melody and added a shout chorus - featuring
drummer Duncan Moore.
2) Giant Steps - John Coltrane’s classic composition rearranged into a 6/8 Latin feel for
the melody with piano and bass unison figures interspersed within the melody. This
song set a new standard of harmonic sophistication in it’s day and continues to
challenge musicians today.
3) Little Melonae – This is an arrangement I did of one of alto saxophonist Jackie
McLean’s more popular compositions. The melody has a certain melodic “quirkiness”about it that really stands out. It also uses many harmonic devices that were a direct
departure from the more traditional Bebop harmony - Fun Tune!
4) Smile – This has always been one of my favorite songs composed by Charlie
Chaplin for the movie “Modern Times.” It was written in the 1930’s and someone else in
the 1950’s added the lyrics. There is a cool u-tube clip from the movie that is worth
seeing. This is a bass feature, after a rubato intro we go into a slow Latin feel and
modulate thru several different keys to keep it interesting.
5) Milagro Café – In 2007 I went on a family vacation to Costa Rica and made it a goal
to compose for several hours each evening. I was able to come up with the framework
for this song and also “Cigarones.” I found the variety in the Costa Rican landscape
from lush jungle to frenetic cities (and everything in-between) very inspiring.
6) The Man I Love -This is an up-tempo Afro-Cuban arrangement of George
Gershwin’s composition that became famous in the opera “Porgy and Bess.” It features
drummer Duncan Moore and congero Charlie Chavez with a blistering solo by trumpeter
Gilbert Castellanos.
7) Dance of the Freaky Circles – Another of my compositions, this is a high energy 3/4
waltz. This started as a project to write a blues in a major key and morphed elsewhere
but still retains its “blues” roots. The title came from the vibrating blobs of color that
appear on the screen while listening to music files sent over the Internet.
8) Cigarones – The second of my Costa Rican compositions on this recording. It
features a bass and piano ostinato figure and horn arrangements with alto flute,
bassoon and flugelhorn. When we arrived in Costa Rica the cicadas were in full song
and they would crescendo into a triple forte and then diminuendo into a complete
silence. This went on day and night the entire time we were in the capitol, San Jose. It
was the inspiration for this song and a source of sonic irritation for those living in the
9) It’s All Right With Me - A very up-tempo version that features bass melody and
solos by Ben Wendel, Josh Nelson and myself. Although the tempo is fast we kept a
loose floating feeling to the rhythm, which provides more freedom for the soloist and
helps maintain a very interactive element between the musicians.
10) Wish On Us – This is an unaccompanied bass solo that explores several different
key centers. It was inspired by two female street musicians I met while bicycling on Ray
Street in San Diego. One played ukulele and sang while the other one bowed melodies
on a wood saw with a violin bow. I told them I wished I could donate to the “kitty” but
had no money. They replied, “that’s okay, thanks for the “Wish On Us.”



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