The Artist: Bill Douglass, Chicago Park

Interview December 16, 2005 by The Union

What is your career and your current job title?

Musician/Bassist/Artistic Director for Sierra Jazz Society...

Describe in a sentence or two your art.

Refining my musicianship in the wonderful American musical tradition called jazz.

How long have you been working in this discipline?

I just turned 60, and got my first double bass when I was 12. It's been a great journey!

Why do you do it?

Playing this music calls on the whole person, mind, emotions, and the body. Also I get to play with other people, and that adds to the usefulness of the art. One must be sensitive to others and be "in the moment" in a very special way.

What do you hope to accomplish?

In all the groups I play with, I think we hope to pass on the joy of this particular type of music, and hope the listener will want to search out more of the same. I've been very lucky in regards to who I have played with, such as Marian McPartland and Mose Allison. They both have that joyful thing!

Do you create your art with an exact message you want the viewer to receive and if yes, what is that message?

I would hope that when all the components are there, right venue, good band, and interested listeners, that the music would elevate the listener a bit.

Where do you want to be with your art, in terms of part time versus full-time status, art positions and where your works are seen?

My wife Nora Nausbaum (a flutist) and I have been putting our jazz camp on in Nevada County for 4 years and we hope to continue passing on the tradition with our friends. And also make the best music possible, as often s possible.

What kind of special training did you take?

I left Nevada County in 1964 and moved to San Francisco. I went to SF State for about 6 months and dropped out. The music scene there was wonderful, so many older musicians to learn from, and so many small places to play. It was very rich, to say the least. I guess you could say I graduated Summa Cum Laude Have Mercy!

What's your favorite part of your endeavors?

Practicing alone and with others, and listening to the great masters on recordings.

What's your least favorite part of your endeavors?

Hustling for work, free lance can be draining sometimes.

How many hours a day, or more appropriate, a week, do you spend on your work?

I practice a few hours a day, mostly at night, which I love. There is so much to learn!