Yeoman Interview – Daniel Casimir

Daniel Casimir holds The Musicians’ Company Young Jazz Musician Award 2016. A former Trinity Laban and Birmingham Conservatoire student who trained under the tutelage of legendary bassist Dave Holland, Daniel is a regular on the UK jazz scene, playing at venues including Ronnie Scott’s and the Southbank Centre for the London Jazz Festival. He recently joined an all-star line-up of British jazz musicians to commemorate the life of the great Art Blakey.

When did you discover the double bass?

I truly discovered the family of bass instruments when I started playing the bass version of steel drums at the age of 11. Wanting to play an instrument that I could have at home, I then started learning the electric bass around the age of 15. Towards the end of my A levels, I started to develop an interest in jazz and when I was accepted onto the Birmingham Conservatoire Jazz course, I made the switch from electric bass to double bass in 2008.

How does it reflect your personality?

I believe that the bass is discreetly the most important instrument within a rhythm section. It is often overlooked despite its importance, revealing the humble nature of playing the bass/being a bass player. This is something that I try to emulate within my persona.

What do you think makes a great double bass player?

I believe having good musicianship is the most important part of being a bass player. Compared to other instruments within a typical jazz line-up, I think that the bass addresses harmony and rhythm to a more equal degree, making having good musicianship very important. I also think that the ability to assess in real-time musical situations is very important. As the role of the bass is to support the other members of the band, it is vital to be able to perceive what is happening quickly and to respond accordingly.

What sets jazz apart from other music?

I believe what sets jazz apart from other music is the relationship that jazz has with other styles of music, especially popular music. As popular music and society changes, jazz musicians have often found ways of embracing these changes in an improvised manner, which keeps the music evolving.

Who is your favourite jazz musician?

One of my favourite jazz musicians is bassist Christian McBride. McBride has a technical and musical ability on the bass which is unmatched.

Tell us about a standout musical moment

While at Birmingham Conservatoire, legendary bassist Dave Holland was an artist in residence at the time. On a couple of occasions during my time in Birmingham, I was able to perform with him during a workshop environment which was an amazing experience.

Let’s talk about your latest album Escapee

The title piece of the album Escapee is dedicated to my son, who at the age of two worked out how to climb over the gate in front of his bedroom. This piece and the other tracks on the album are a documentation of me becoming a father and being a jazz musician in London. The album features mainly musicians I met in London after I studied in Birmingham: Joe Armon-Jones (keyboard), Shirley Tetteh (guitar), Moses Boyd (drums), but guest vocalist and co-writer Tess Hirst I met during high school.

What are you working on right now?

I am currently working on material for a new album. This album will be co-led by Tess Hirst and myself and we aim to record the album early next year. The album is currently scheduled to be released towards the end of 2018.

Find out more about Daniel Casimir at danielcasimirbass.com