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Ernest Otim: Repping Jazz bass music

Ernest Otim is the only commercial jazz bassist. He was inspired by Marcus Miller(R).
COURTESY PHOTO

Jazz love: Ernest Otim is the only known Jazz bassist in Uganda who has recorded three albums so far. Looking to popularise the genre, he has created his own studio that only focuses on jazz music

Who is Ernest Otim?
I am 23 years old. I am a Ugandan jazz bassist, producer, music director, composer and arranger. I am also a bass guitarist and play the piano too.

Do you have a stage name like other artistes?
Ernest Otim is my name and that is what I use. I am not a ragga artiste, the Ernest Otim on stage is the same off stage, no mask.

Tell us about jazz bass music?
Like any other jazz music, jazz bass is led by a soloist. The person playing the bass guitar is the leader and he plays the melodies that are supplemented by other instrumentalists.

Are there any other Jazz bassists in Uganda?
Here, not really. It is something new to many because they are used to sax or electric guitar jazz. So many people do not take the challenge. I think I am so far the only person who has taken it up seriously but there are other good bass guitarists.

We have seen you play in live bands. Do you still do so?
Yes, when I am not playing my music, you will find me with Lilian Mbabazi or other bands. But I also arrange and direct concerts for Ugandan pop musicians.

How many albums or bass jazz pieces have you produced?
I have three jazz albums; Book of Groovation, A Jazzy Christmas and Love. I have produced about five albums for other jazz artistes such as Tonny Trumpet, Ken Musoke, among others. I have produced very many singles including Funky For Ya, Aminangojo and Kampala City.

You have a studio and a record label. Tell us about these? What inspired them?
I have a studio but not a record label, although that is my goal. I have always wanted to record music but did not get the right producer for a jazz feel. That is how I decided to begin Groovation Studios. It is now two years and we have recorded about eight jazz albums.

Does your studio produce any other music?
No, we only do jazz. That field has many producers, for now we shall stick to jazz.

Who inspired you?
Marcus Miller, Richard Bona and Victor Wooten. These are the world’s greatest bassists. I always watched their concert videos on YouTube when I was younger and I knew I wanted to be like them. Josephat Nsimile who teaches music at Kampala Music School also inspired my love for jazz.

Bass jazz is not very popular. How do you hope to push it?
Good music speaks for itself. I believe when one comes to watch me play, they will leave wanting more. I have received compliments so many times.

Do you ever participate in jazz events?
I had two jazz concerts last year; at Club Guvnor in July and Sheraton Kampala Hotel in December. I am starting a jazz festival called ‘Jazz & Dine’ that will be happening every first Sunday of the month at Biyem Hotel, Mengo.

Titbits on Ernest

EDUCATION
I attended Wobulenzi Parents School for my primary, Bethany High School for O-Level and St. Kizito Bugolobi for my A-Level. I proceeded to Aptech Computer Education School and I completed with a degree in Computer Science.

CHALLENGES
Most people think jazz is for a certain class of people. They do not take time to listen and appreciate it. Another challenge is that the ground is not levelled for rising stars like me because jazz maestros stay around for ages and people are attached to them, so it takes a lot to catch the fans’ attention.

GOT HERE BY…
That is a hard one. Well, first and foremost, God. Then my hardwork and daring spirit to always keep trying. But I cannot forget my father, who was central in introducing me to music; we always played the keyboard together.

FUTURE PLANS
To tour the world playing Ugandan jazz music and to stage an annual jazz concert. I also want to have the biggest jazz studio in the country because studios do other kinds of music.

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