Bryan was one of the most in demand double bass players on the West Coast for over 30 years, and is still since he moved to the Asheville, North Carolina area almost 8 years ago.
Educated in both classical and jazz, Bryan has over 50 years of performing experience. Bryan first started on guitar at the age of 5 years old. He began studying cello in fifth grade, and by seventh grade was playing violin, viola, and bass with the Junior High Symphony, as well as the High School Orchestra in Roanoke, VA. Bryan played his first professional concert, Handel’s Messiah, on double bass at age 12. Bryan went on to win full Performance Scholarships in double bass at both Florida Junior College, 1979-1981, and the University of Oklahoma, 1982-1985.
Afterwards, Bryan moved West to play professionally with the Monterey County Symphony, 1986-1988 and the Santa Cruz County Symphony, 1986-1988. As well as his symphony work, Bryan was playing jazz professionally, and over the years has had the opportunity to work with the following jazz greats:
John Handy, Bobby Hutcherson, Phil Woods, James Moody, Harold Land, Bruce Forman, Buddy Montgomery, Richie Cole, Ernie Andrews, Ernie Watts, Red Halloway, Kenny Drew, Jr., Bud Shank, Laurindo Almeida, Calvin Keys, John Fadis, Lanny Morgan, Mose Allison, Martin Headman, Ace Hill, Dottie Dodgion, Charles McPherson, Hollis Gentry, Holly Hoffman, Christian Howes, and Bill Berg.
While living in the San Diego area 2003-2014, Bryan played often with many local favorite musicians: Jaime Valle, Mike Wofford, Chuck McPherson, Hollis Gentry, Peter Sprauge, Shep Meyers, Ruby Blue, Duncan Moore, Bob Boss, Flip Oakes, Holly Hoffman, and Mikan Zlatkovich, among others.
Bryan toured Japan with John Handy in 1991 and 1992, and again with Dottie Dodgion in 1997, and did a Goodwill Tour to Florence, Italy in 1993, with the Santa Clara County All-Star Jazz Quartet.
Bryan's recordings include, Live at Studio West, with the Jazz 88 All-Stars, of which he was a member, 2007-2010. In 2004 Bryan recorded Love Is Here, performed with Julie McConnell, Sky Ladd, and Kevin Green, of which Bryan was also the arranger and producer. In addition, Bryan recorded Senza Fine in 2018 with his singer wife again, Julie McConnell, and again Bryan producing and arranging several of the tunes. In 2000 Bryan recorded his own CD, Live at the Elkhorn Slough Yacht Club, performed with Jackie Coon and Dottie Dodgion. Previously, during, and after these 4 CD projects, Bryan McConnell has played on 26 other recordings for numerous artists in Northen and Southern California, and in the Asheville, North Carolina greater area.
Bryan just finished recording his orginal compositions, along with his arrangements of a few cover tunes, and his newest CD is due to be released May 2023! Bryan's band for this project includes Michael Jefrey Stevens on piano, Bill Berg on drums, Christian Howes on violin, Todd Wright on saxophone, Will Boyd on saxophone and flute, Rick Simerly on trombone, and Julie McConnell on vocals. The CD Release Concert for this project is scheduled for Sunday, May 7th, 7:30pm at White Horse Black Mountain.
Earlier in Bryan's career, while working as the house bassist and musical director at Storyville Classic Jazz Club in San Francisco, 1995-1997, Bryan organized non-profit jazz clinics, volunteering his time and expertise teaching bass and jazz improvisation in the local community. In addition, Bryan was the "Artist in Residence" for the Monterey Mattress Marquee for 5 years in Monterey, California; a position which entailed coordinating educational forums and performances, as well as grant programs. Bryan also served as a clinician for Jazz Masters, a non-profit organization created by Bruce Forman, dedicated to making music available to needy children.
Bryan has been teaching string instruments since he was 15 years old. Currently he teaches double bass, violin, viola, cello, guitar and drums, as well as string symphony works; and was the string teacher at Applied Scholastics Academy for 3 years, and co-musical director for the San Marcos United Methodist Church for 1 year, both in the San Diego North County.
In 2008 Bryan opened McConnell's Music with his wife and co-owner, Julie McConnell, with great success for 6 years, serving over 100 students, organizations, and community members per year, with quality music and education. In February 2016 Julie and Bryan re-opened McConnell’s Music in the Asheville, North Carolina area, continuing to offer their high standard of musical excellence, both as performers and educators. Bryan also taught string classes at Haywood Commnunity College in Clyde, North Carolina for 5 years. Currently, Bryan teaches classes, private lessons, and workshops in strings and drums through McConnells Music.
Since moving to the Asheville, North Carolina area Bryan plays locally with well known musicians Michael Jefry Stevens, Bill Berg, Christian Howes, Todd Wright, Rick Simerly, Will Boyd, Robert Shulman, the late Bill Gerhardt, Keith Davis, Taylor Pierson, Daniel Keller, Mark Guest, Chris Beyt, Justin Watt, Rick Dilling, and Wayne Banks, among others. Also Bryan has a 5-part concert series he performs every year at The DFR Lounge in Downtown Brevard, North Carolina, with his band, The Bryan McConnell Jazz Quartet, which features a different horn player for each concert.