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14-Year-Old Local Bassist Gabriel Severn Releases Award-Winning Debut Music Recorded with World Class Musicians

The year 2018 was a big year for one youthful musician from Loyalsock Township, 14-year old Gabriel Severn, who might be regarded as somewhat of a prodigy on the electric bass. His musical journey is comparable to an artist at least twice his age. In the past year alone, Gabriel has won multiple awards, performed coast to coast, appeared at many notable music festivals, and recorded his award-winning original music with some of the world’s most prominent jazz artists — all before his 14th birthday. Gabriel’s musical aptitude resulted in him receiving two DownBeat Student Music Awards this year. These awards are considered the most prestigious in jazz education and the educational equivalent to the Grammys.

He made his recording debut with his DownBeat Award-winning tune “Song for Fina” on November 16, 2018. Gabriel’s love of Brazilian bossa nova and samba inspired him to write “Song for Fina,” which he dedicated to a close family friend for her birthday. On this project, Gabriel teamed up with multiple Emmy Award winner and multiple Grammy Award nominee Chieli Minucci, who produced and played guitar on the recording. Stellar world-class musicians and Special EFX members Joel Rosenblatt (drums) and Jay Rowe (keys) are also featured in the project.

His maiden voyage into composing demonstrates his musical sophistication and depth and is a step into new artistic paths.

“Right from the start, as I was growing up, I was surrounded by jazz music. Primarily because my dad is a professional trumpet player and jazz musician,” Gabriel told Webb Weekly. “So I grew up listening to jazz from a very young age.”

He continued, “For some reason, I was always drawn to the sound of the bass. I have a feeling it was because of the low frequency. But when I went to my dad’s gigs, I would always point out the bass. I used to sit in my dad’s lap as a toddler and watch videos of Jaco Pastorius.”

According to his parents, when he sat in his car seat as a baby, his ears were filled with jazz, fusion, and funk. He first learned to groove at age seven with the Uptown Music Collective’s Urban Souls, a Motown tribute band he joined just a few months after starting bass lessons with local teacher Tim Breon. The band gained significant recognition, performing at community events, benefits, music festivals, and on radio and TV. While learning the Motown classics, he would challenge himself by transcribing jazz and fusion bass solos. He received international recognition with a viral video at age 11, which set the wheels in motion for a professional career.

Gabriel is the first Markbass Rising Star, is an Ernie Ball Music Man artist, and developed a custom line of bass strings made by Carlos Pavicich in France. Several other companies also endorse him.

Although he played in a variety of bands after the Motown group, Gabriel wanted his own band, so at age 12 he gathered some of central Pennsylvania’s best and most promising young musicians and formed his jazz fusion band, “Teen Town.”

The band has toured throughout Pennsylvania and taken audiences by storm, opening for many major artists, including the Victor Wooten Trio, the Tierney Sutton Band, and the Original Drifters. “Teen Town” has appeared at many notable festivals and events, including the 2018 Boscov’s Berks Jazz Festival, the Dauphin County Wine & Jazz Festival, the Scranton Jazz Festival, and TEDx Harrisburg.

As a soloist, Gabriel has performed at the 2018 NAMM Show, the 2018 Dallas International Guitar Festival, the Berkshires Jazz Festival, and has been a guest with many ensembles in the past six years. He has studied with and been mentored by, many prominent bassists, including Victor Wooten, Anthony Wellington, and Adam Nitti. He’s had the honor of receiving scholarships to Wooten’s Bass/Nature Camp, the Berklee College of Music’s first Groove School, and has attended Gerald Veasley’s Bass Bootcamp, the Central PA Jazz Camp, the Keystone Jazz Institute and the Uptown Music Collective.

He was asked what it meant to have recorded with such world-class musicians.

“It’s great! I would never have known from when I started playing that I would have all these opportunities to play and record with such amazing players.”

Looking to the future, he said, “I would like to just study and play with as many great players as I can! I would like to do this professionally and write more music as well.”

It certainly looks like Gabriel Severn has a bright musical future ahead for himself.

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