Benjamin Shepherd, B.F.A. | Bass Program Chair
6-string electric bassist Benjamin Shepherd was born and raised in Wellington, New Zealand, where he began playing the drumset at age 5, bass guitar at age 7, and upright bass at age 13. Fresh out of high school, Benjamin recorded his debut album Double Play, which showcased his technical mastery of the bass as well as his compositional talents. Then, in 2008, Benjamin relocated to Los Angeles to attend the California Institute of the Arts, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in jazz studies. His mentors at CalArts included Alphonso Johnson, Charlie Haden, Larry Koonse, David Roitstein, Miroslav Tadic and Joe LaBarbera. During his junior year at CalArts, Benjamin auditioned successfully for American Idol contestant David Archuleta’s band and began touring Asia, performing in front of 20,000 to 60,000 fans every night. Prior to graduating from CalArts, Benjamin had also secured a gig as music director for former Tower of Power lead singer Ellis Hall.
Currently one of the busiest and most in-demand sidemen in the Los Angeles music scene, Benjamin has worked on stage and in the studio with a wide variety of highly successful and Grammy-winning artists including Kendrick Lamar, Lee Ritenour, Chance The Rapper, Billy Childs, Patrice Rushen, The Monk’estra, Virgil Donati, Moses Sumney, Kimbra, Low Leaf, Mike Keneally, Mike Stern, Bob Sheppard, John Beasley, School Boy Q, and Miguel Atwood Ferguson. Recently, the former Weather Report drummer Peter Erskine (who has worked with a slew of the world’s best bass players) tapped Benjamin to perform on his group Dr. Um’s sophomore release, Second Opinion. Erskine said, “It’s important as a jazz musician to bring younger musicians into the picture. This bass player, Benjamin Shepherd, is remarkable. I can’t claim to have shown him anything, but I have given him a platform.”
Benjamin’s current endorsements include Ibanez Basses, Aguilar Amplification, Xotic Pedals, GHS Strings, and Gruv Gear Accessories. Benjamin is bandleader for two of his own projects: Mr. DanZ, a jazz fusion ensemble, and Tech Support, an acoustic jazz trio. Benjamin can be seen in concert frequently around Los Angeles at respected venues such as the Blue Whale and the Catalina Jazz Club.
Bass students at California College of Music are sure to benefit from Benjamin Shepherd’s teaching style, which emphasizes technical virtuosity and rhythm section expertise.
B.F.A., California Institute of the Arts
Watch Benjamin in action below!