So you clicked on ‘About Stefan’. That’s nice. To make this into a better read for you I thought I would run through some questions that are typically asked at a dinner party with none musician friends…remarkably they always follow a similar pattern of friendly interrogation.
So…what do you do, Stefan?
…erm…I’m a musician…
What do you play?
…my main instrument is bass but I also play the guitar and some keys…
Is it a ‘big bass’, i.e. the acoustic bass?
…no, I play mainly the electric bass, mostly 4 string to be precise. However, I’ve recently have acquired a double bass called ‘Mandola’.
Did you study music?
Yes, I studied from 1988 to 1993 at the Jazz department of the Vienna Music Conservatory in Austria. From 1994 to 1996 I studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts – the biggest Music College in the world and I loved it! In 2011 I finished my studies to receive a Masters Degree in Contemporary Music Performance from Chichester University.
How long have you been in England?
Since 1996, I came to London right after I graduated from Berklee College of Music.
Are you in a band (an orchestra)?
First and foremost I run my own band, the Redtenbacher’s Funkestra (formerly the Blue Redtenbacher’s Funkestra). We are a Jazz Funk band and I write all the music and arrangements and run the band. We are about to release our fifth record called ‘The Cooker’ which will come out in spring this year.
But I also play for other bands and do some session work for various artists (see ‘short bio #1’ below).
Have you played with anyone famous?
[my least favorite question because it might as well be ‘are you any good, i.e. good enough to have played with anyone famous:-)]
I have certainly performed and recorded with many amazing musicians so far…some of them are famous (to the wider public), some of them are famous in a niche market (like Funk or Jazz) and some of them nobody ever heard of as they are not in the public eye… this doesn’t matter to me…great music and musicianship matters to me…I think the guys in my band should all be famous because they are killing! If you crave more detail see ‘short bio #1’ below.
Do you teach?
I taught bass at the Musician’s Institute from 1996 to 1998. In 1998 I became the head of the bass department at the Academy of Contemporary Music and held this position until 2010. From 2008 to 2010 I also held the job of ‘head of performance degree program’.
I have also taught privately for many years, pretty much since I started in 1984, however, I have not taught privately since about 2004 as I felt that my commitments at the Academy of Contemporary Music kept my educational hunger satisfied. Maybe, sometime in the future I should pick up a few selected students again.
Are you qualified to teach?
First and foremost I think experience is the best teacher. Experience in combination with relevant strategies to communicate this to younger players. On a more technical level, I do have a PGCE in Contemporary Music Education from the Institute of Education in London where I graduated in 2008.
Do you write about music?
I feel very fortunate that for a period of over 13 years I was able to write countless teaching modules for various Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) programs. This included bass specific modules as well as general music knowledge topics such as arranging [my pet love], ear training and live performance.
In recent years I wrote bass course notes for the BA (hons) Creative Musicianship program for The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP) as well a bass course notes for the BA (hons) degree program of The Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME).
In the late 90s I also wrote a monthly rock column for ‘Bassist’, the British Bass Guitar Magazine. In September 2010 I started my own column called ‘Funkyologies’ for the British Bass Guitar Magazine. This column was sponsored by the Bootsy Collins Funk University and I wrote about my thoughts on all things funky the way I see it. Later on Strings and Things sponsored my column which came to an end in June 2012.
I currently write for an online bass magazine called ibass and my column is called ‘In session‘.
Over the years I have transcribed hundreds and hundreds of bass lines and tunes (with varying degrees of accuracy…I hope they are getting better) and I offer some of the bass transcriptions for free on this site because I believe in sharing great bass lines and ideas.
Do you write music?
Oh yes, I’ve dabbled with writing music ever since I started to play bass, on the 14th of August 1984. I started to write for horns around 1988 when I played in and R’n’B band called The Booze Family, fronted by my late and great friend Bernie ‘Big B’ Auer. I really got into arranging for rhythm section and horns in Boston and have written for various size ensembles since. Recently arrangers like Richard Niles and Peter Tomasso have helped me to refine my horn arranging skills. You can hear my latest on ‘The Cooker’ and ‘The Time Thief‘ scheduled for spring next year.
Do you write songs?
No, I predominantly write instrumental music, i.e. without vocals and lyrics…I guess I’m just wired that way…although I love to listen to good songs sung by Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, George Benson, Earth, Wind and Fire or James Taylor just to mention a very few.
What are your plans for the next few years?
We released our fifth fully blown instrumental album ‘The Cooker’ in April of 2013. It represents my most mature writing and arranging to that date. All the musicians are truly amazing on it! My intention is to keep on raising awareness of this record. So far we get a good response from US college radio station and I would like to expand on this.
Perhaps play some gigs in some key towns like New York, Boston, Chicago and Minneapolis.
We also have another album in stock called ‘Dr. Hypenstein‘ which is bass-fantastic…we are hoping to release the album in the fourth quarter of 2014.
2015 will be the year of ‘The Time Thief’, the ninth Funkestra album. It will be based on the trusty four piece Funkestra rhythm section and a five piece horn section (yet again!). As always there will be special guests. So far we recorded tenor sax player Andy Snitzer (currently playing with Paul Simon and Sting), alto saxophone player virtuoso Charlie Hunter, and former Miles Davis Group tenor saxophonist Rich Margitza, who is just magical! During the summer we had the extreme pleasure to record with Alfred ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis, legendary Funk tenor saxophonist and former Musical Director of James Brown himself. Can’t wait to let you hear the tracks…
On the live front I would love to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival, The Blue Note in Milan and the North Sea Jazz Festival. This would be totally awesome. Also would love to appear on ‘Later with Jools’, the fantastic late night BBC live music show.
Short bio #1
Stefan Redtenbacher – bassist, composer, arranger, bandleader
First and foremost Stefan is a groove bassist with a deep seated love for Jazz, Soul and Funk. To satisfy his vision of this music he has, over the past 25 years, become a formidable composer, arranger and bandleader with a fierce creative output and an educational tinge.
He is an alumni of the Vienna Conservatory and Berklee College of Music.
His recording and performing credits include: Sam Brown, Steve Winwood, Kiki Dee, Jack Bruce, Tony Hatch, Amy Winehouse, Gerry Beckley (America), Lulu, Coronation Street, Sandie Shaw, Mica Paris, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Louise Marshall, Herb Alpert, Limahl, Alexandra Burke, Russell Watson, Pete and Joe Brown, Adam Ant, Talc, Ollie Murs and Danyl Johnson amongst others.
Stefan’s band, the Redtenbacher’s Funkestra have recorded with funk legends like Fred Wesley, Alfred ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis, ‘Doc’ Kupka, Lee Thornburg and Lenny Pickett from Tower of Power, Eric Krazno from Soulive as well as the horn sections from Prince, Incognito and The Brand New Heavies.
Stefan is about to release his eight album ‘Dr. Hypenstein’, written and produced with his longstanding friend and collaborator Thomas Feurer from Wooden Hat Records. He is also working on his ninth album ‘The Time Thief’ to be released in the spring of 2015. Additionally he is currently tracking for the first release of ‘The Red Counts‘ (the jazzier sibling of the Funkestra) called ‘A Little Book Of Jazz’ whilst contributing his monthly ‘in session’ column for the brilliant ibassmag.
Short bio #2
Stefan Redtenbacher – educator
Whilst establishing himself as a prominent performer in the UK music scene since 1996 and following a teaching position at the Musicians Institute, London (a former branch of the renown Musicians Institute, Los Angeles), Stefan was hired as the head of the bass school at the Academy of Contemporary Music, world leader in music industry education in 1998. In 2007 he accepted the position of performance degree program leader. In 2009 Stefan helped to conceptualize, develop and set up a Masters in Contemporary Music Performance program validated by Chichester University for which he was earmarked to become program leader.
However, in 2010 Stefan resigned from all his senior management positions to dedicate more time to the Funkestra and to set up a company to develop cool music education technology called Knowledge Rocks.
He also offered his view on the state of funk in his monthly ‘Funkyologies’ column in the UK Bassguitar Magazine from Sept 2010 to June 2012.
Stefan leads his own band, Redtenbacher’s Funkestra, performing on a regular basis and continues to produce records featuring international artists to stay in touch with musicians, students and the music making community worldwide.