We had the good fortune of connecting with Corbin Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Corbin, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I like to say “California-born, Colorado-raised” when people want a more in-depth understanding of my beginnings (which is generally never). I was born in San Jose in NorCal, and my parents were born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, so almost all my family is in California. When I was 5 turning 6 years old, my parents moved us to a suburb of Denver, Colorado for a job, so I lived from ages 5 -18 in Colorado. I really didn’t identify with what I considered stereotypical Colorado-isms, and I used to claim that I was LA among many of my peers… then I moved here to attend music school LOL. I absolutely feel at home in California, especially considering my family here, the ethnic diversity, and my natural city-boy inclinations, but Denver is my hometown. I’m honestly just now coming to terms with this, as I now have a 22 month old son and think about what Colorado will mean to him. My parents often return to LA to see him, but on the couple trips I have visited Colorado with him this has really been on the back burner, but bubbling over. There’s a lot of knots I didn’t tie before turning 18 and bouncing almost indefinitely from the Denver area; there’s a lot of trauma that arose internally during Black Lives Matter’s height in the summer of 2020. Undoubtedly some buried experiences from surviving in what I considered a “small” music scene and a mostly white community in the 2000’s was left un-navigated, and that poisoned my view of my hometown. However, my freedom to truly be “Corbin Jones,” with the great exploration of musical instruments and genres that ensued thereafter, along with my near detrimental love for all types of people (literally all, I know that sounds extra, let me explain later), was also birthed from the open fields I played in as a kid, the powerful and diverse church community I had, and the devoted teachers I encountered. In high school I found this being named “Jesus Christ” to be ridiculously real in my life, and real keen on tearing away a lot of the sarcastic and injured shell around my heart, and that’s probably the main thing that shapes my outlook on my career, and community, and our world. So yeah, long story short – I’m California and Colorado, and I’m hoping to finally, really reflect alllll of these things in an upcoming album!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
So, the tone of my voice is low (not like Barry White, but like a vacuum cleaner running in the room next door), and the voices of my main instruments are also all in the lower register (upright bass, tuba, baritone sax, bass guitar). Now, you can decide if you find it a cute coincidence, or gimmicky, or science (or, like I do, a combination of all three options), but it’s truly a product of me pursuing what’s on my heart! As a multi-instrumentalist especially, a strong rule for me has been not learning instruments because I “have to,” but learning the ones I can’t stop envisioning myself playing – and for my entire career thus far it’s made space for me to do what I love to do. I’ve gotten to play bass on jazz festivals internationally, I’ve toured on tuba with big pop artists, and arranged horns and played bari sax on an NPR Tiny Desk concert, to name a few shiny highlights. I’m usually hired or recommended by a friend who’s seen me do what I like to do, and they just ask me to come do that with them! It’s taken me learning to say “no,” as I’m definitely still a yes-man and take it personally when I have to say no to someone, and it’s taken me learning to show up early, and as prepared as I imagine my my music director/boss to be. Yet, aside from the talent, hours of practicing, and life lessons, I’ve found that 90% of my work came to me in a completely unexpected manner, or unexpected shape. In this industry, there are so many talented and hard working people who are not in as “high-up” a position as someone with seemingly less talent and hard work, and nowadays I’ve actually found that to be comforting. Time and chance happen to all, so my focus is wasted if it’s on the shiny things; my day-to-day process of building with the blocks that were given me is my (intended) focus, and it’s full of way more hope, and really a lot of fun.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I must note that my friends know not to hit me up for a fun time because Corbin Jones is a homebody! But walks in Malaga Cove area are great; maybe catch friends playing at Sam First, Del Monte Speakeasy, or 1642; California Burrito or Asada Fries at late night taco trucks near USC… is that random enough (can you tell I don’t live in the valley)? Personally, anywhere I’m hanging with a friend, we’ll make it a blast!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Just a few of the many humans I owe heavy shoutouts to include: my parents (bought my first instruments and let me do this thing) and almost Dr. Steve Holley (who encouraged me to play even more instruments and told me I can do this thing (my parents told me that later too))
Lisa Marie, Frank Perez, Visual Thought