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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Life + Arts

Q&A with graduate student Gerald Massoud



Gerald Massoud is a bass-playing graudate student assistant at the Moores School of Music. He has been passionate about music all his life. He sat down with The Daily Cougar to tell us about his experience at UH.

The Daily Cougar: What do you do at the music program and what career are you pursuing?

Gerald Massoud: The technical name for the degree is jazz conducting. It’s essentially a program to allow jazz students to stay in the jazz field. There are a lot of different levels in the other programs, but we don’t have all of those in jazz. I did my master’s in the same degree. This is my third year here. I think once you’ve rehearsed the band long enough, you just go up and do some gestures and get off.

TDC: How was performing with Lew Soloff?

GM: Performing with him was amazing. I spent time with him outside rehearsals and performance, and he’s like that weird grandfather, so it’s hard to explain. He probably has four or five conversations going on in his head at the same time — he thinks well in advance. He can be talking to many people at once. He tells me what he has to say without having to pull me aside for 30 minutes to say it.

TDC: How is it playing with a jazz ensemble, especially playing a less popular instrument?

GM: I think in a jazz band, people focus on it — it kind of runs the rhythm section. A joke I use all the time is that nobody cares about the bass player. It reminds them that there’s more to focus on in a band. The music wouldn’t exist without the bass. It could work without any of the other instruments, but if you take the bass player out, the music doesn’t work.

TDC: What made you decide that this was your instrument?

GM: I heard a bass player named Victor Wooten, who plays an electric bass. He’s the one who got me interested, and right after I finished high school, I got myself a bass. I got into college and they said I’d never make it as a bass player. At the University of Arizona, the bass teacher accepted me as a beginner and was very happy I was passionate about playing the bass. I had to only learn classical and did jazz on my own.

TDC: What is the best part of your experience at UH?

GM: It’s kind of flexible. I can do what I want, within reason. (UH doesn’t) have many jazz players, and you’re always playing if you’re one of them. If you go to a school with 500 jazz players, you’re not playing, so why are you in school? UH gives me the environment I need to grow. I feel like I can still cut it in New York. I go out and play with New York guys, tour and do all these things. I’m not prohibited by being a student musician. I have a home base by being here. That’s why I’m doing all these big things in Houston. If I were in any other city, I wouldn’t have this opportunity.

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