Bryan was one of the most in demand double bass players on the West Coast for over 30 years, and now has recently moved to Asheville, North Carolina.
Educated in both classical and jazz, he has over 43 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, and Dottie Dodgion.
While living in the San Diego area 2003-2014, Bryan played often with many local favorite musicians: Jaime Valle, Mike Wofford, Charles McPhearson, Peter Sprauge, Shep Meyers, Ruby Blue, Duncan Moore, Bob Boss, Flip Oakes, Holly Hoffman, Mike Wofford, 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 executive producer. 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 3 CD projects, Bryan McConnell has played on over 20 other recordings for numerous artists.
Bryan is also an accomplished composer, writing several original works over the past 20 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, until he moved to the Asheville, North Carolina area recently. Currently, Bryan teaches String Classes part-time at Haywood Commnunity College in Clyde, North Carolina.
Bryan currently plays locally with well known musicians Michael Jefry Stevens, Robert Shulman, Daniel Keller, Mark Guest, and Wayne Banks, among others. You can hear Bryan play weekly at Jongo Java on Main Street in downtown Hendersonville on Saturday nights!