Milt Hinton Institute for Studio Bass Returns to Oberlin in July

June 28, 2018

By Erich Burnett

person posing with an upright bass
Milt Hinton's long career intersected with countless stars of the jazz world and beyond.
Photo credit: Milton J. Hinton Photographic Collection

Designed for young bass players, biennial program also showcases illustrious faculty in numerous public events.

In 2014, Oberlin Conservatory announced a partnership with the estate of legendary jazz bassist Milt Hinton, whose seven-decade career intersected with the greatest jazz musicians of the 20th century and whose camera lens captured the joy and inconceivable pain of life as an African American musician traversing the segregated southern United States.

At the heart of that partnership, Oberlin will host the third biennial Milt Hinton Institute for Studio Bass July 7 through 13. The institute is a key component of Oberlin’s robust summer music programs, which include offerings for musicians representing a wide range of ages and interests.

Designed for college and pre-college bass students (ages 13 to 21) of all ability levels, the Hinton Institute consists of a week of master classes, performances, films, bass ensembles, studio sessions, and more. It focuses on a comprehensive range of genres—including classical, early music, jazz, slap, Latin, and electric—and features a host of the nation’s finest teachers and performers across a variety of styles. This year’s Hinton Institute welcomes more than students, each of whom will have the opportunity to perform with small ensembles and a bass orchestra in a July 13 concert that concludes the week.

The schedule of public events is as follows; all events are free and take place in Oberlin.

7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 7
Clonick Hall (in the Bertram and Judith Kohl Building, 77 W. College St.)

Oberlin’s curator of Special Collections Jeremy Smith leads a presentation on the life and impact of Milt Hinton.

10 p.m. Saturday through Tuesday, July 7-10
The Birenbaum (in the Hotel at Oberlin, 10 E. College St.)

Oberlin’s sleek new subterranean club will host a host of bass sounds for four straight nights, featuring Hinton Institute faculty each night and showcasing percussionist Zaire Daren and pianist Theron Brown (Saturday); cellist Rene Schiffer, bassist Tracy Rowell, and harpsichordist Mark Edwards (Sunday); bassist Cheo Hernandez, timbale player Sammy De Leon, conga player Ray Guzman, and pianist Jackie Warren (Monday); and vocalists Vanessa Rubin and Evelyn Wright, drummer Darden, and pianist Joe Hunter (Tuesday).

3:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 11
Kulas Recital Hall (77 W. College St.)

Part of Milt Hinton Day festivities in Oberlin. The documentary Keeping Time: The Life, Music & Photographs of Milt Hinton combines rare footage, photographs, and compelling interviews as it follows Hinton throughout his remarkable career on stage, on the road, and in the studio. Keeping Time will be followed by a Q&A session with David Berger and Holly Maxson of the Hinton estate.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 11
Warner Concert Hall (77 W. College St.)

Featuring faculty of the 2018 Hinton Institute. The concert will be followed by a reception.

Hinton Institute faculty for 2018 include Oberlin Professor of Jazz Studies and Double Bass Peter Dominguez, fellow Oberlin jazz professor Jay Ashby, bassist and luthier Bruno Destrez, Cleveland Orchestra principal double bass Maximilian Dimoff, Grammy Award-winning bassist Eddie Gomez, acclaimed pianist Luis Perdomo, drummer and bandleader Billy Drummond, Suzuki Association bass teacher trainer Virginia Dixon, University of Michigan professor emerita Diana Gannett, Cleveland Pops Orchestra principal bass Ann Gilbert, jazz performer Mimi Jones, performer and past president of the International Society of Bassists John Kennedy, Music Settlement of Cleveland Suzuki teacher Audrey John Melzer, Butler University bass faculty member David Murray, Oberlin faculty member Tracy Rowell, Shenandoah Conservatory professor Donovan Stokes, 2015 ISB Competition winner Sam Suggs, bassist and bandleader Ben Williams, and educator Inez Wyrick.

“Milt Hinton's contributions as a musician and humanitarian are truly unique,” says Dominguez, director of the Hinton Institute. “He represents an exceptional example of longevity in an illustrious performing career and a righteous individual who lived his life with honesty and relevance.

“The Milt Hinton Institute and its faculty remain true to the essence of Milt's legacy: his commitment to the highest level of musicianship and human dignity, and his commitment to sharing these attributes with aspiring young bassists.”

An additional highlight of the institute is the exhibit Playing the Changes: The Life and Legacy of Milt Hinton. Curated by Dominguez and Smith, the retrospective of Hinton’s life was recently displayed at the Cleveland Public Library and will appear later this year at the Tuskegee University Legacy Museum in Alabama.

Learn more about all of Oberlin’s summer programs at

ABOUT MILT HINTON: Born in rural Mississippi, Milt Hinton came to be known as “The Dean of Jazz Bass Players” during a career in which he performed alongside the greatest jazz musicians of the 20th century. For decades, Hinton also thrived as a studio musician, and with nearly 1,200 recording sessions to his name, he has been called the most recorded jazz musician of all time. Hinton passed away in 2000, but his musical legacy lives on: In early 2014, Oberlin Conservatory acquired four of Hinton’s prized basses and countless artifacts—known collectively as the Milton J. and Mona C. Hinton Papers—which were amassed throughout the late musician’s extraordinary career.

You may also like…

Peter Takács—A Half-Century Celebrated

May 4, 2024

This spring marks the official conclusion of Takács’ tenure, after an incredible 48 years of teaching. Many of his former students from around the world are set to convene for a celebratory concert in Warner Concert Hall on May 12
man seated in front of grand piano