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MandoBasso (O2)

February 28, 2013

MandoBasso is a duo featuring Gunnar Biggs on bass and Bill Bradbury on mandolin. Biggs and Bradbury first came together as colleagues working on projects at both Palomar College and Cal State San Marcos. Biggs comes from a strong background in jazz and classical performance, Bradbury from a composition and computer music background. Their mutual love of Irish and traditional American music brought them together in this unusual pairing of mandolin and bass.

MandoBasso performances include mainly new compositions, along with arrangements of traditional music, classical music, jazz and ragtime. MandoBasso released its first CD in April 2010. The album includes 10 originals and 2 traditional tunes. Now available on CD Baby (click here for excerpts and sales) and on iTunes, Amazon, etc. Some reviews of the MandoBasso CD and articles about the duo:

“The interplay between the two leads to so many unexpected joys and discoveries…” “happily recalls the Appalachian excursions of Edgar Meyer, Yo-Yo Ma and Mark O’Connor of a decade ago” “What makes it all work is the virtuosity the two men bring to their instruments.”–Jim Trageser, North County Times Review, 5/27/10 (Click for full review of CD)

“Fresh and filled with excellent musicianship, the disk is a pleasure from beginning to end.” –Paul Hormick, San Diego Troubadour, August 2010 (Click for full review of CD)

“Catching them live is a treat…” –Tony Cagala, San Diego Troubadour, November 2010 (Click for full article on MandoBasso)

“First — curiosity. The simple incongruity forms a question mark. A big ol’ bass and a high-pitched mandolin, side by side? Like throwing a growling mastiff in with a mewling kitten. But then listen to the music, and be convinced.” –Gordon Johnson, KCET ArtBound (Click for full article on MandoBasso)

“Listening to MandoBasso right now and loving it! B’veld Bounce, killer little tune….Bravo and keep it going. What a great combination of instruments, what a band!” -Peter Sprague, San Diego guitar legend

“I listened to the MandoBasso CD at least a dozen times in the last week.  It’s the best new music I’ve heard in years!” — Kent Davy, Editor, North County Times

“The MandoBasso CD is a WOW. What beautiful music. You have woven a sparkling fabric of richness and warmth that will appeal to classics and country lovers alike… congratulations on a superb job.” -DW

“I’ve been listening to MandoBasso the past two hours…What a great blend of styles and compositions, and the pacing and programming of content is stellar! Bravo to you both… Hope Springs Eternal/The Favorite Grandson is one of the most pleasant 6 minutes I’ve spent in ages…” – JG

“I attended your very enjoyable MandoBasso Concert at the Library on Wednesday night….Well, I was quite taken with your Autumn Meditation.  I’ve just played your CD and now I’m over the moon about it.” -EH

My fave is “Hope Springs Eternal/The Favorite Grandson.”  The octave mando sounds fantastic.” -EN


Bill Bradbury is an Emmy Award-winning composer. He received his doctoral degree in music composition from Cornell University where he studied with Karel Husa, Steven Stucky and Yehudi Wyner. While at Cornell he also studied Indonesian gamelan with Sumarsam and Martin Hatch as well as music theory with William Austin and Roger Parker. Bradbury is currently Professor of Music and Music Technology in the Visual and Performing Arts Department at California State University, San Marcos where he served as Department Chair from 1998 to 2002 and again in 2005-06 .

His creative activities include compositions for orchestra, chamber ensembles, soloists, and electronic media and have recently included computer-based multimedia collaborations with other artists: a work with visual artist Deborah Small and actress Dana Case was commissioned for in SITE97, an international art show based in San Diego and Tijuana. Bradbury’s most recent large-scale composition, LEAVES for Narrator, Piano and Orchestra, was commissioned in honor of Palomar College’s 50th Anniversary and premiered by the Palomar College Orchestra with Dr. Peter Gach as piano soloist.

Bradbury has written musical scores for several films including Anza Borrego: Seasons in the Desert for which he received an Emmy Award for composing and arranging in 2001. In 2002, Bradbury was commissioned to write the score for KPBS television’s film, San Diego’s Coastal Wonder.

Bradbury has received grants or commissions from Meet the Composer, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Maryland Arts Council, and many others.

He is also an accomplished mandolin player and interested in the history of American music.

Several recordings of his music are available.



Gunnar Biggs has been a prominent figure in the musical environment in Southern California for over forty years.  Often the bass player of choice for numerous jazz ensembles and recording sessions in the region, Gunnar recently released his own CD, footprint, featuring all original compositions.  His performance credits include several southern California jazz festivals including the Kool Jazz Festival, La Jolla Jazz Festival, Ocean Beach Jazz Festival, Jazz in the Parks in Carlsbad, Pt. Loma, and La Jolla. TV appearances include KPBS’ Club Date and the Emmy-award winning documentary, “Three Generations of the Blues.” Gunnar is a known quantity in San Diego music venues, maintaining a solid groove and studied understanding of the role of the bass across genres including Latin jazz/salsa, big band, Brazilian, straight ahead, blues and fusion jazz.

He retired from San Diego State University where he was the Instructor of Double Bass for twenty-five years and Palomar College where he served as Director of Jazz Ensembles for five years.  He continues to teach bass at Cal State San Marcos, Mira Costa and Palomar College and has a large number of private students.  Besides being an in demand performer and overbooked educator, Gunnar serves as a judge, clinician and guest artist at several local jazz and music festivals, including Coronado’s annual festival.

Gunnar started studying French Horn when he was seven, but took up the bass at age 13.  He received a scholarship to North Texas State University to attend their prestigious jazz program but left his studies early to take a position with the San Diego Symphony at age 19.  At age 20, he left the Symphony to go on the road with drummer, Buddy Rich and has performed with major jazz artists ever since including Thad Jones, Tommy Flanagan, Mose Allison, Sheila Jordan, Kenny Barron, Red Norvo, Papa John Creach, Shelley Manne, Jack Sheldon, Don Menza, Charles McPherson, Barney Kessel, Conti Condoli, Joe Pass, Laurendo Almeida, Charlie Byrd, and Peter Sprague.  Although he enjoys notoriety in the jazz genre, Gunnar is active in the classical world as well and has performed with the San Diego Opera, San Diego Chamber Orchestra, Orquesta de Baja California and performs frequently as a guest artist with Orchestra Nova (formerly San Diego Chamber Orchestra).  He holds an undergraduate degree in Global Arts and Ethnic Studies and a teaching credential from Cal State San Marcos.