Long-time Village resident Muneer Nasser is a musician, author, songwriter and historian. Nasser’s exposure to the jazz idiom was early and powerful. His lifelong commitment to jazz history evolved from the unique opportunities he had to meet many of the jazz greats that his father knew. Consequently, he has read over one hundred books magazines, and conducted informal interviews with jazz masters whose answers stimulated his quest to document jazz history, including that of his father, the late, great bassist Jamil Nasser.
“Upright Bass: The Musical Life and Legacy of Jamil Nasser, A Jazz Memoir” tells the life story of jazz bassist Jamil Nasser in “a book that uncovers why Miles Davis was so fascinated by the untold stories of how these Memphis musicians were so ahead of the others.”
George Joynuner, Jamil Sulieman and Jamil Nasser are three names that appear on the records of Phineas Newborn, Lou Donaldson, Ahmad Jamal, Red Garland and many other jazz greats. These three names identify one jazz bassist, composer and jazz advocate, who made an indelible mark in the jazz world for over 50 years. “Upright Bass” chronicles Jamil Nasser’s evolution from a young bassist on Beale Street to a top-flight bassist on the New York Jazz scene.
Miles Davis harbored curiosity about the environment that produced Jamil and three Memphis musicians he hired in 1963. Nasser's narrative captures the untold stories of two piano giants Phineas Newborn and Oscar Dennard. He also shares anecdotes about his mentors, Papa Jo Jones, Lester Young, Charles Mingus, Oscar Pettiford and Ray Brown.
Jamil describes his decade-long tenure with Ahmad Jamal, which included a life-threatening imprisonment in South America; his plight as an outspoken jazz artist fighting for greater union representation; and the perils of heroin addiction in the music industry, media access, healthcare and self-ownership.
“Upright Bass” and Nasser’s companion CD “A Soldier’s Story” are available online at www.jamilsnasser.com, or at upcoming events. See Nasser, listen to music or talks about the book on Friday, Feb. 22 from 6 to 9 p.m. ($5 cover) or Saturday, Feb. 23 from 1 to 3 p.m. (free) at Westminster Church, 400 I Street SW, Washington, DC (one block from the SW Waterfront Metro Station).