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 over 6 years ago.
Educated in both classical and jazz, he has over 48 years of playing 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. Bryan played his first professional concert, Handel’s Messiah, on double bass at age 12 in Roanoke, Virginia. 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, 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, 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 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, in 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 24 other recordings for numerous artists.
Bryan is also an accomplished composer, writing several original works over the past 30 years; such pieces as Too Mingus and Goodbye, amoong others. You can listen to these, and other selected pieces on the Music Tracks page of this website.
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 of North County for 3 years, and co-musical director for the San Marcos United Methodist Church for 1 year, both in the San Diego County area.
In 2008 Bryan opened McConnell's Music with 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, Robert Shulman, Bill Gerhardt, Keith Davis, Taylor Pierson, Daniel Keller, Mark Guest, Chris Beyt, Rick Praytor, Bill Berg, Justin Watts, Sonny Thornton, and Wayne Banks, among others.