Jazz virtuoso talks about his recent frenzy of activity
Exclusive video interview with FBPO’s Jon Liebman
March 11, 2019
By David Sands
Marcos Varela is a musical whirlwind. A wizard on both the electric and upright bass as well as an active composer and arranger, his last few years have been a bustle of non-stop touring, producing, writing and recording.
And he’s been at it a long time. A graduate of the acclaimed High School for the Performing & Visual Arts in Houston, Texas, he was recognized at the age of 18 with both an NFAA International Jazz award and a IAJE Clifford Brown/Stan Getz All-Star fellowship. He later participated in the the International Association of Schools of Jazz (IASJ) program in Freiburg, Germany and the Kennedy Center’s “Betty Carter Jazz Ahead” Program in Washington D.C.
Following his studies at the New School’s Mannes School of Music, Varela quickly established himself in NYC’s music scene and has gone on to perform and collaborate with a roster of all-stars that includes Billy Hart, Clifton Anderson, Orrin Evans, The Mingus Big Band, Umar Bin Hassan of The Last Poets, Leslie Odom Jr. of Hamilton, Charli Persip, Jason Moran, Rudy Royston, Robert Glasper and Geri Allen, among others.
In 2012, he recorded his debut solo album San Ygnacio; it featured liner notes by the great Ron Carter, who said of Varela’s work: “His tone, choice of notes and compositions will place his playing and name on the list of bassists to be heard.”
During a meetup at this year’s Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, California, FBPO’s Jon Liebman had the opportunity to catch up with Varela about his recent flurry of projects, travels around the globe and ambitions for the future.
Watch our interview with Marcos!