Rock Bass Allman Brothers
Lived: Birmingham, AL
Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame
Although Oteil and the Peacemakers is made up of incredibly talented musicians the music and the story always comes back to Grammy-nominated Oteil Burbridge. His solo band features a blend of jazz, jam, funk and gospel grooves – and tremendously catchy words and melodies – that promises to propel this band into the jam – and jazz – forefront. In addition to Burbridge, the band consists of Chris Fryar on drums, Mark Kimbrell on guitars and Matt Slocum on keys. Burbridge’s influences include jazz greats such as Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clarke, Alphonso Johnson, and Aston "Family Man" Barrett, along with funk masters Larry Graham, James Jamerson, Chuck Rainey, Willie Weeks, Jerry Jemmott, Rocco Prestia, Bootsy Collins and George Porter, Jr. In fact, cognoscenti and press who witnessed Oteil’s virtuoso performance of Pastorius’ “Three Views of a Secret” at last year’s Beacon Theater tribute uniformly called it the high point of the evening.
Burbridge has always been in demand as a session and live sideman – recently, he was simultaneously a member of six different bands! His first step into the national spotlight came in 1991, when he became a founding member of the Aquarium Rescue Unit, a legendary jam outfit that still does the occasional reunion gig. He is probably best known, though, for his membership in The Allman Brothers Band since 1997. He was an immediate success with ABB fans, earning raves for his six string bass version of “Little Martha.” His work with the band also earned him two Grammy nominations for best rock instrumental, in 2004 and in 2005. Along the way, he found time to collaborate with Phish’s Page McConnell and The Funky Meters’ Russell Battiste on the jam unit Vida Blue.
Burbridge has dropped all of his side projects recently, preferring to focus on The Allman Brothers Band and Oteil and the Peacemakers. Although Burbridge’s resume must dominate any story about the Peacemakers, each of the members of the band brings important elements to the whole. Drummer Chris Fryar played with the blues-rock touring group Gravy. He has also done session/side work with acts as diverse as Robert Moore and the Wildcats, Charles Neville. Keyboardist Matt Slocum was classically trained, attending the New England Conservatory of Music. As the newest member of the band, he adds precise musicianship to the mix. Guitarist Mark Kimbrell is also a veteran of the session scene, and brings astounding guitar virtuosity to the album.
HIGHLIGHTS and RECORDINGS
Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit - 1990-1993
"Live" - 1992
"Mirrors Of Embarrassment” - 1993
Aquarium Rescue Unit (with Paul Henson) - 1993-1997
"In A Perfect World" - 1996
"The Calling" - 2003
The Allman Brothers Band - 1997-present
"Peakin' at the Beacon" - 2000
"Hittin' The Note" - 2003
"One Way Out" - 2004
“Live At The Beacon" (DVD) -2003
Grammy Nominated songwriter: "Instrumental Illness" - Hittin' The Note
Vida Blue (Phish Keyboardist solo project)
"Vida Blue" - 2000
"The Illustrated Band" - 2003
"The Deep End Vol. 1" - 2001
"Rising Low" (DVD) - 2002
Oteil Burbridge and the Peacemakers
"Love of a Lifetime" - 1998
"The Family Secret" (CD/DVD) - 2002
Oteil Burbridge, (born August 24, 1964) in Washington, D.C.), is a Grammy Award-nominated American multi-instrumentalist, specializing on the bass guitar, trained in playing jazz and classical music from an early age. He has achieved fame primarily on bass guitar during the current resurgence of the Allman Brothers Band from 1989 through the present day. He was also a founding member of the band the Aquarium Rescue Unit, and has worked with other musicians who include Bruce Hampton, Trey Anastasio, God Street Wine, Bill Kreutzmann and The Derek Trucks Band, with whom his brother Kofi Burbridge is the keyboardist and flautist.
Burbridge joined the Allman Brothers in 1997 and has appeared on the CDs Peakin' at the Beacon (2000), Hittin' the Note (2003), One Way Out (2004) as well as the DVD Live at the Beacon Theatre (2003, certified Platinum 2004).
Burbridge was born and raised in Washington, D.C., to a family with some Egyptian heritage, and was named Oteil, meaning "explorer" or "wanderer". When he and elder sibling Kofi showed talent for music, their mother felt it best to place them in classical and jazz classes hoping to nurture their musical inclinations and keep them out of trouble. Kofi remembers Oteil's first drum set; a Quaker Oatmeal box, when he was only three or four years old. Both brothers were introduced to a wide variety of instruments, and became multi-instrumentalists, with both being taught to play the piano, with Oteil gaining proficiency on the bass clarinet, violin, and trumpet. However, Oteil's chosen main instruments became the bass guitar and the drums, while Kofi developed a love for the flute, and the keyboards. Oteil Burbridge developed an interest in the theater and was the host of a local television show. Oteil was enrolled in the Sidwell Friends School, a private school offering a higher quality of education than Washington D.C.'s troubled public school system. He graduated there in 1982.
Oteil drifted through the Atlanta musical scene which introduced him not only to other musicians there but also other genres of music. As one of the original members of Bruce Hampton's avant-garde band, the Aquarium Rescue Unit, Burbridge was introduced to members of the jam band scene in the southeast of the United States. This included members of Phish, Phil Lesh and Friends, and Blues Traveler, who freely sat in with one another in each other's bands. When Hampton left the Aquarium Rescue Unit, it slowly disbanded, however Burbridge had developed a reputation on the four and six string bass guitar, enjoying the less commercial nature of the Atlanta area musicians. With bass player Allen Woody leaving the Allman Brothers Band to play full time in Gov't Mule, Burbridge joined them, and was made a full member of the band in 1997.
In 1999, following the passing of bassist Bobby Sheehan, Burbridge auditioned for Blues Traveler, performing a live show with the band in Chicago. The position was subsequently given to Tad Kinchla, who remains Blues Traveler's bass player.
In 2010, Oteil joined his brother Kofi, and his Allman Brothers band-mate Derek Trucks, as the bassist in the new group, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band.
Oteil's trademarks include performing barefoot, wearing tie-dye shirts, and performing the acoustic guitar classic "Little Martha" from Eat a Peach on his six-stringed bass guitar. Oteil is most notably recognized for his ability to incorporate scat-singing into his improvised bass solos. His bass style is heavily influenced by Jaco Pastorius, especially his use of bass chords which are used in his bass improvization.
Oteil married Jessica Shouse April 10, 2010 in Winston-Salem, NC.
In 2000, Oteil formed a solo band called Oteil and the Peacemakers based out of Birmingham, Alabama and featuring musicians Matt Slocum keyboards, Mark Kimbrell on guitar, Chris Fryar on drums, and vocalist Paul Henson, a carry over from the post-Colonel Aquarium Rescue Unit releases. They released their first album, Love of a Lifetime, that same year. That was followed up in 2003 by the CD/DVD set entitled Family Secret. In 2005, Burbridge took his music in a greater spiritual direction for their third album titled Believer.
Oteil also was approached by Page McConnell of Phish, who invited him and Russell Batiste, Jr. (then of the funky Meters) to participate in another venture as an electronic trio, with vocals. Their name wasn't chosen until Major League Baseball pitcher Vida Blue hopped up on stage with them, and their name was chosen as Vida Blue, after the athletic star. The trio joined together in 2001 and continued performing until 2004, putting out a DVD and two albums, joining forces with a Latin-rock sextet sampling a variety of genres of music, including the jazz and electronic music flavored alternative rock music from Vida Blue.
Oteil Burbridge joined the Bill Kreutzmann Trio alongside Bill Kreutzmann of the Grateful Dead and Scott Murawski of Max Creek, as the BK3. They toured throughout 2008 and early 2009 before Oteil left due to touring commitments with the Allman Brothers Band. He was replaced by James Hutchinson.
Burbridge also had a bit part, as a teenager, as a street thug named Lolo in the 1979 Peter Sellers movie Being There. The movie is a black comedy about politics and many of the woes of celebrity and fame. Although Burbridge plays a part in a short scene, it is arguably one of the film's most famous moments.