Rodney Appleby

Rodney Appleby

Jazz Bassist
BMHOF Class of 1995

A well-rounded musician who ventures into all areas of music, Rodney Appleby fits almost every bill.

In addition to performing with Anthracite, Appleby has dabbled in theater. Working on a limited budget, he wrote, produced and directed his first musical, "Games" to premier in June at the Calumet Arts Cafe and play later at the Gemini Dance Theatre and Martin Luther King Park.

Appleby approaches his myriad of musical ambitions with a can-do attitude. "It's not a question of Will I," he says, "but How Will I?"

He works with the African American Cultural Center and the Paul Robeson Center, performing in the orchestra, and performs with the Last World Jazz Researchers, a Duke-Ellington-style big band directed by Willie Dorsey. He also gives private lessons.

His work with the Arts in Education Institute of Western New York, Just Buffalo Literary Center and the University at Buffalo add more facets to his identity as an artist.

In 1995, he recorded and performed in England. "I walked around with a bass on a luggage cart in London," he says, "and everywhere I went there was someone with a project."

Appleby first began playing music on a guitar. "My father played guitar in our house," he said. "I got in a lot of trouble for fooling around with his guitars, but for some reason I took the trouble, so much that to this very day, I have that guitar, a Sears Silvertone."

His first introduction to the bass occurred while trading instruments around with his friends during basement get-togethers. "I found that I could actually play everything," he said. "But the sound, the way the Lass felt,
what it did in the band, how it really forced the issues of the music, I liked that." A few years later, as he walked home from a supermarket, members of his church's gospel group asked him if he played bass, "I
said yes because I wanted to play with them," he said. "I came up with the bass but fell short of the amp, but I walked in and played their tunes with them and eventually we traveled around the country.

Appleby decided to make a go of this bass playing after sitting in on a few jam sessions at the Central Park Grill. "At first I sat in the comer and peeked, listening to the tunes," he said. "Eventually I studied some of the jazz songs they were playing. I liked the bass lines, the walking lines I heard reminded me of the gospel music I had been playing. So I went down one week, decided this was my day, and put on my bass right up front next to the stage to let them know I'm here and I'm here to play."
Appleby's favorite bass is a Warwick Corvette five-string raw wood model, which he said can sound like a grand piano. He has released two recordings - the 1987 vocal release "Tears," recorded in Toronto, and the 1992 Anthracite release "Psycogenic Fugue," which features Appleby on bass and vocals.

His future plans include bass playing and theatre. "I personally want to play bass as a performing artist," lie said. "But my work right now seems to be theatrical. When I sit down and write, I write compositions that
are in context of some larger work. They're all puzzle pieces that when put together, make a small series of my life." Appleby won the Buffalo Music Award for Best Bass Player in 1992, 1993, and 1994.

Back - 1995