Generally regarded as one of the most talented bass guitarists of his generation, FRANC O'SHEA has secured a reputation that has spread worldwide. But it is not only his bass playing that has gained him this respect internationally but also his incisive compositional skills.
Franc was born of Irish, English and Spanish blood in Swaziland, Africa. He was influenced by the sounds of the native’s songs and drumming as his mother would take him to tribal gatherings. He comes from a long line of musicians. His father had played trumpet, his brother keyboards, while his grandfather was a big band alto saxophonist and his uncles played drums and flute. He moved to England when he was 6, where he spent his later childhood on the south coast in Brighton taking up the bass guitar at the age of 12. His open spirit led him to discover a love for all types of music including Jazz, Flamenco, Funk, Irish Folk, African, Latin, Rock and Classical. Almost completely self taught he did study formally for one year and in 1987 he graduated from Chichester College with a distinction in Jazz and Popular Music.
He was a founding member of the dynamic Brazilian dance combo BATU in 1992. Their first single ‘Seasons of my mind’ which they recorded in Paris became a world wide club and radio hit. They also toured Europe regularly playing at major festivals such as Glastonbury as well as appearing on television in the UK. They also shared major concert stages with Brazilian stars Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, and Joyce. Their last recording was for Island Records on their ‘Rebirth of Cool’ series.
He was also a founding member of the Jazz Funk Latin band URUBU, whose first single was mixed in New York and featured the Groove Collective horns. Their debut album ‘Freedom’ received lots of radio play in the UK and they also successfully toured Brazil appearing on television and radio there. They are currently recording a new single for Estereo Records which they will follow with their second album joined by top session vocalist Billie Godfrey (Sting, Kylie Minogue, Lionel Richie).
O’Shea has also performed with many popular artists including the legendary YES guitarist STEVE HOWE, 70’s Folk singer BEVERLEY MARTYN (bass and musical director), and chart topping soul sensation LISA MOORISH with whom he appeared many times on European television. Such is the diversity of O’Shea’s talent that he also works with one of the UK’s top Flamenco ensembles CANDELA and Irish Flute star PHILIPPE BARNES. He has also recorded singles with the internationally renowned garage band BAH SAMBA supplying the bass for their massive international club hit 'Reach Inside'. He also appears on their critically acclaimed debut album 'Bah Samba'.
In the field of Jazz, Franc has worked with many top players including concerts with the famous American singer JOE LEE WILSON who is renowned for his performances and recordings with Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins and Artie Shepp. He has worked with the brilliant trumpet player BYRON WALLEN (George Benson, Freddie Hubbard, Chaka Khan) whom he had a duo with as well as sharing the bandstand with him on many other concerts. He has also worked with one of the UK's greatest saxophonist's BOBBY WELLINS, whose classic 1965 album with pianist Stan Tracey, 'Under Milk Wood', is regarded by many critics as the best British Jazz album of all time. Franc has also recorded with trumpeter GERARD PRESENCER (Joni Mitchell, Sting, Charlie Watts Big Band) who is renowned for his soloing on the Us3 reworking of Herbie Hancock's 'Cantaloupe Island' which was a major hit internationally, and made him one of the most heard Jazz players in the history of the music. Franc has also recorded with New York trombone player JOSHUA ROSEMAN who is known for his recordings with Steve Coleman, Lester Bowie and Miles Davis bassist Dave Holland.
In 1999 Franc was signed by guitarist TONY REMY (Steps Ahead, Lonnie Liston Smith) to ALLTONE RECORDS and became label mates with the acclaimed saxophonist JEAN TOUSSAINT (Art Blakey, Wynton Marsalis, McCoy Tyner, Gil Evans).
Franc's debut album for Alltone, ‘Esprit', features many top Jazz artists including NIGEL HITCHCOCK (Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd), BYRON WALLEN, LIANE CARROLL, and GERARD PRESENCER. It has received excellent reviews from many leading publications such as The Observer, Jazz UK, Jazzwise, Bassist, Jazz Journal International and Musician as well as lots of play on several European radio stations, including Jazz FM, BBC Radio 2, and Music Choice Europe. It also reached number 4 in the Jazzwise magazine chart, and O’Shea has been featured in Jazz UK, New Insight and Bassist magazines. Also Europe’s largest cable and digital radio station, Music Choice, produced a programme on him and he has played many international Jazz festivals and concerts, promoting his music.
In addition, two tracks from ‘Esprit’ were selected by German label Hotwire Records for their ‘Bass Talk 6’ compilation series which has featured bassists Carles Benavent (Paco De Lucia), Victor Bailey (Weather Report) and Mark Egan (Pat Metheney). Franc's tracks appear alongside tracks by internationally renowned bassists Victor Wooten, Michael Manring, and former Chick Corea bassist Bunny Brunel. Another track appeared on the American magazine 'Bassics' compilation album alongside tracks by Miles Davis bassist Marcus Miller and Joe Zawinul/John McLaughlin/Herbie Hancock bassist Matthew Garrison. He has also participated in the first European Bass-Day, in The Netherlands, sponsored by Bass Magazine (Belgium and The Netherlands).
O'Shea's release of his next album, 'Alkimia', is due on 6 June 2006. This album features internationally renowned artists such as Jorge Pardo, Rubem Dantas, Juan Manuel Cañizares (first two play in Chick Corea's current band and three of them have played in Paco de Lucia's septet), Benjamin Sarfas, Philippe Barnes, Nan Mercader, Chema Vilchez, etc.