The title track of David Hughes’ debut CD release begins with the escalating sound of an arctic windstorm, and it is like a windstorm this Scandinavian virtuoso bassist and talented composer will sweep through the music world. His self-produced album offers some delightfully melodic tunes and showcases how beautiful the sound of the bass guitar can be.
Although his list of recording and performance credits is impressive, from performances with Chaka Khan, Melissa Etheridge and Ray Manzarek of the Doors, to tours and recordings with the legendary Jazz Crusaders, David Benoit and Asian superstar Tanya Chua, Swoosh is his first release as a leader and his first serious attempt to document his musical compositions.
"Ever since I was old enough to reach the keys on our family’s piano, I’ve been writing music," Hughes recounts. "When I discovered the Beatles, music took on a new meaning and I became interested in playing the bass and write songs." Perhaps some of the melodies on Swoosh can be traced to the British group’s influence, but definitely to the sometimes melancholic tone of Swedish folk music." One of the songs, Clearing, is my musical painting of a Swedish forest clearing on a sunny spring morning." Hughes notes. "Greg Mathieson played some beautiful piano and John DePatie some wonderful acoustic guitar on the recording. I played the melody and a solo on fretless bass, an instrument I feel is close in sound and expression to my own voice."
Hughes got his musical foundation in the Swedish Kommunala Musikskolan, a music school operated by the city which offers instrumental instruction and ensemble classes. He studied violin, viola, string bass and bass guitar and performed in a number of ensembles ranging from Big Band to Symphony Orchestra. "Sweden was a terrific place to grow up, arts are well supported and I think it shows in the country’s successful music export," ponders Hughes.
It was as a student at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm that Hughes began to develop his sound. A leader of several jazz and fusion groups, he experimented with musical influences such as Bebop Jazz, Classical Baroque, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny and Marcus Miller. He cites the college’s fertile creative environment as one of the most important factors of his musical development.
After arriving in Los Angeles in 1994 and graduating with highest honors from Musicians Institute, he soon joined the school’s faculty. A great musical leap came when he was approached by Wayne Henderson of the Jazz Crusaders, and invited to join the band. The group’s performances around the world stimulated Hughes to develop new musical concepts and earned him considerable recognition. "Wilton Felder, saxophonist and founding member of the group, is also a great bassist. He can be very specific about what he wants from the bassist and he was a great inspiration," Hughes recalls. "I am so thrilled to have his sax performance on Sunshine."
As for the future, Hughes eagerly looks forward to touring in support of Swoosh and finding new audiences in foreign markets. Schedule permitting, he will continue his musician life in LA, doing local gigs, recordings and tours with the Jazz Crusaders. "I want to bring an emotional experience to the listeners and make their lives more enjoyable," notes Hughes. From the sound of it, life is better now at a record store near you.