Sometimes those Unsung Heroes of Bass create new Heroes and extend their legacy through others. They find a way to inspire the masses not just though their playing but through their leadership, empowerment and love for what they do.
For these reasons, Bob Bowen is an Unsung Hero of Bass. It turns out Bob had a wonderful stage to perform on at NY’s Hofstra University where he led students to explore their potentials and find their true talents. He opened up their minds and their capabilities by exposing his students to a wide range of music; showed them how to allow their personality flow into their own style of playing and initiated his students to play and create music together in ways that were unique, meaningful and long lasting.
Bob, though his experiences teaching, playing and developing people helped create a music legacy through others who have taken his love of music and applied to their own mission for their lives. Once such person who has taken Bob’s legacy and made it his own is Pete Coco. (www.petecoco.net) Pete is an accomplished player, teacher and mentor to students. He and his brother created the acclaimed Music Academy of Garden City. He’s shared the stage or recorded with some of the best musicians in the world such as Jane Monheit, Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola, Matt Wilson, Jon Faddis, Antonio Hart, and Tommy Emmanuel. And, he is one of the fortunate few to who plays a Mirabella Trap Door hollow body electric bass, in addition to his Kay upright and five string Fender Jazz bass.
Here is Pete’s Unsung Hero Story about Bob Bowen:
My unsung hero of the bass was all things to me: he was my mentor, teacher, my role model, and most importantly my friend.
I first met Bob Bowen while studying music at Hofstra University. Bob was my private instructor, and for three years he taught me with a passion and love for music that is still with me today. Although I can remember many stories of Bob’s nurturing spirit, consummate musicianship, and selflessness as a teacher and friend, there is one that sticks with me because it literally altered my future.
I was finishing up my degree and began to seriously consider attending grad school for jazz studies. I had a late night lesson with Bob, and as happened many times, Bob stayed afterwards to talk about life and my future as a musician. At the time, I was feeling very down about my playing (something all musicians can relate to) and I had almost decided to give up music completely. I related my feelings to Bob, and what he said to me changed the course of my life. He said very matter-of-factly, “Pete, you have what it takes to be a professional musician”
I guess it was such a powerful statement because I knew he really meant it. And I really believed him. In fact, I was so confident in Bob’s confidence in me that I decided to continue pursuing music as a career and have not looked back since. I can also say that I don’t know where or who I would be today if it were not for Bob’s influence.
Last year, Bob was taken from us. His death left a gaping hole in the hearts of all who knew him personally and professionally. To me, Bob represented (and still does) everything I aspire to be as a musician and person. He was the complete player, confident in any situation, whether playing rock, pop, funk, jazz or classical. He was equally skilled on electric and upright bass. He was so well rounded that he could connect with any variety of musicians across all genres – and gain the respect of them all. But more than all of this, Bob Bowen was a wonderful human being. His positive energy and love for music was almost contagious, and his generous spirit as a teacher and player was felt by all who had the fortune to know him.
Since Bob’s passing, I have made it my goal to be the type of person and musician Bob was. In fact, that had been my goal while I was still his student, but now I am even more determined to make him proud. And I know that Bob was and is proud of me, and the fact that he believed in me has made me confident that I can succeed in any musical endeavor I pursue.
Thanks for everything Bob. You are truly loved and sorely missed.
Thanks Pete for sharing how Bob Bowen made a difference in your life and how you are making a difference with those you connect with.
If you have a story about someone who made a difference in your Bass Life and is your Unsung Hero of Bass let me know… Please write in and let me know on the Bass Musician Magazine Community.
And here’s the secret again. You can keep reading the articles about the same players over and over again. You’ll keep getting the same highly marketed information from the major manufactures. So unless you speak up and keep your peers connected to what’s important to you about bass you’ll never really get the complete value and benefit from how YOU make our bass community something unique and compelling to us all.
I look forward to hearing your stories