jeff denson

Zon Guitars Creates JD5 Bass for CJC Professor Jeff Denson





Jazz Industry Leader Crafts One-of-a-Kind

Instrument to Fit Denson’s Specifications


“I’m Completely in Love with This Bass,”

Notes Denson, Acclaimed “Master of the Jazz Bass”

August 24, 2017; Berkeley, California; Zon Guitars, a music industry innovator since its inception in 1981 as a custom guitar and repair shop in Buffalo, New York, has announced Jeff Denson as the recipient of a custom crafted JD5 Bass, designed and produced by the industry leader to Denson’s specifications.

“I’m completely in love with this bass,” noted Denson. “What an amazing experience to have an expert instrument maker like Joe Zon craft an instrument to fit my hands and tonal aesthetics!”

Zon Guitars Founder, Joe Zon, welcomed Denson to the Zon family as an artist who “has balanced a full career as both an acclaimed performing musician and as a highly respected educator. We’re delighted to have this custom crafted JD5 in such talented hands as Jeff Denson’s.”

Susan Muscarella, President and Dean of the Conservatory echoed, “Jeff is the epitome of our faculty’s effectiveness. He is not only an accomplished musician, he’s an expert educator as well. Jeff deserves to have this wonderful instrument in his creative hands.”

Denson, labeled the “Master of the Jazz Bass” by jazz critic Lee Hildebrand, has toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe with his own groups – including the renowned cooperative trio Minsarah – and has worked with some of jazz’s finest artists, including an ongoing relationship with the legendary alto saxophonist, Lee Konitz, since 2007. On the recording side, Denson has released over a dozen albums as leader or co-leader and is currently working on several new recording projects.

Denson, who earned his doctorate from the University of California San Diego, currently serves as a full professor at the California Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley, as well as working as the Artistic Director of Ridgeway Arts, also located in Berkeley.

In pursuit of building the ultimate instrument, Joe Zon used graphite neck material as a way to enhance the sound and stability of his basses. This new technology, coupled with years of experience in repairs, culminated in a design that was immune to neck warp and twist, ergonomic and lightweight, a design that produced a rich, full tone. Today, the bass world has come to know the name Zon as an instrument of quality craftsmanship, innovation and performance.

Denson couldn’t agree more: “This is a master instrument,” he continued. “The body vibrates with each and every note and it’s extremely responsive to the touch. It can really sing but also give a real punch, too. Zon exceeded my expectations with the JD5!”

Zon Guitars is located at 780 Second Avenue in Redwood City, California, 94063. Their website is Telephone number is 650/366-3516 and they can be reached by e-mail:

The California Jazz Conservatory is located at 2087 Addison Street, Berkeley, California, 94704. Their website is Telephone number is 510/845-5373. They can be reached via e-mail:

Photo Caption:

Jeff Denson and his custom crafted Zon JD5 Bass






Professor Jeff Denson talks about teaching at the California Jazz Conservatory

Jeff Denson

Jeff Denson is a musician on a mission. With three jazz ensembles, a full professorship at the California Jazz Conservatory and leadership of a nonprofit organization devoted to the enhancement of jazz in the Bay Area, the double bass master, vocalist and composer is among the busiest musical artists in Northern California. The Jeff Denson Quartet will perform Sunday at Silo’s in Napa.

Following a rich academic and artistic journey that took him around the country and the world, Denson accepted his appointment at the conservatory (then the Berkeley Jazzschool) in 2011 and moved to the Bay Area. On the phone from his East Bay home last week, he talked about the local jazz scene.

“I think there’s a fantastic scene in Northern California,” Denson said. “In many ways, it’s kind of an unsung jazz scene on the national and international scale. You have great musicians performing all throughout the Bay Area in large and small venues.

“If not many people know that it’s going on, though, it’s like if a tree falls in the woods and no one’s there. Does it happen? Does it make a sound? That’s one thing I would personally like to help with in whatever small way I can, trumpet and boost people’s awareness of the wealth of music we have here.”

As a bass player, Denson is regarded as a master in both jazz and Western classical traditions. He has recorded 10 albums as leader or co-leader of an ensemble, and a dozen more as a sideman. He has a cherished relationship in performance and in the recording studio with Lee Konitz, the veteran alto saxophone icon.

Denson CJC Ensemble

Denson spoke enthusiastically about the work of the California Jazz Conservatory, where he serves as director of its outreach program. “It’s a major center for jazz education and the only conservatory solely based on the study of jazz in the U.S.,” he said. “Any time you have a city that has a major jazz program, there’s benefits to that.

“Musicians have a place they can go and a community develops around it. You have young musicians going to study with their peers. They go in and out. They leave the school and they have a peer group that they can communicate with artistically and focus on developing a career together.

“We’re nurturing these young artists who are trained and passionate, and they’re going to keep pumping out new blood and new inspiration in the music scene. We have that here in the Bay Area now. That’s a really important component to be aware of. They’re always going to be generating this new vibrant energy.”

“And not only do you have students that are going to be young blood injected into the scene,” Denson added, “you also have people that want to see what’s going on. They’re going to want to go out and check out what the professionals are doing in the city. This helps bolster the audience base. It’s a great cycle.”

Denson’s pride was on full display when he talked about the members of his Quartet. “I have a really great band,” he said, “and we’ve worked a lot together developing a connection, a musical connection. I think that really shows in the recording that we just made, and you’ll hear it in the live show. It’s a great group.”

The Jeff Denson Quartet is Denson on bass and vocals, Dan Zemelman on keyboards, drummer Alan Hall and Grammy-nominated Paul Hanson, whom Denson regards as the world’s premier improvising bassoonist. Their upcoming CD is “Concentric Circles.”

“I really do hope there’s a lot of people out for the show,” Denson said. “This is very unique music we’re performing. It’s challenging, but I think it’s very special. Of course I’m biased, but it’s special music that brings together influences of many things. The true thing about it is the heart behind it, the integrity and the strength of the melodies.”

Sunday, Feb. 21, 4 p.m. Presented by the Napa Valley Jazz Society (NVJS). $45, $25 for NVJS members. Silo’s, 530 Main St., Napa. 707-251-5833.

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