Reader Spotlight: Dave Kurtiak

Dave KurtiakMeet Dave Kurtiak, a 27 year veteran of bass who has a gigs with several bands and music projects around the Seattle area – and nearly all-improv. (Very cool). Dave is our player in the spotlight for January 3, 2012.


Born in Bayonne, NJ to a musical family, it was no surprise when Dave picked up the bass at age 13. Playing in various heavy metal and hard rock bands before being introduced to jazz, Dave developed a percussive right hand playing technique that has more to do with his playing than any bass, effect or amp he uses.

After a long hiatus playing music while working for several record labels, Dave decided to pick up the bass again. Now living in Seattle, Dave’s focus shifted to improvised music, primarily the underground jazz and funk scene in Seattle. Funky, groovy and a voice all his own, Dave’s playing can be heard with and leading How Now Brown Cow and A Modest Menagerie.


Seattle, Washington, USA

Day gig:

Sales Manager for a Music Software company.

Years experience:

27 years. Oh man, I’m old.

Bands & Gigs:

I have several bands and music projects that gig around Seattle. All are primarily, if not 100% improvised jazz and funk with some other influences throw in here and there. They include:

How Now Brown Cow:
HNBC is more of a “four on the floor funk” thing. Imagine the Saturday Night Live band just letting lose with a little Average White Band, Weather Report and the like. Dig? Formed in 2006 or so, this band has gone through a number of line up changes. My role is simple regardless of the other members: lay it down and keep it groovin’. Until recently, we had a monthly residency at The Triple Door Musicquairum Lounge in Seattle. Currently we are not gigging as the members are pursuing other projects.

A Modest Menagerie:
This is my latest project. It’s all improvised – no covers, no tunes, just making it up on the spot. This is the first project with a guitarist in about eight years. Having no compositions is very liberating, risky, inspiring and down right nerve-racking. It really does afford me the ability to step out of the expected role of a bass player and do a lot more. It can get crazy though so I try to still be an anchor for the rest of the group while pushing and pulling the music in different directions by changing the tone, chordal arrangement, pulse, etc. We have a monthly gig in Seattle and do one off gigs from time to time at other venues.

Past projects include Bear Knife Stick Pigeon and The Combustion Collective.


  • 1986 Ibanez Roadstar II Bass (RB650)
  • 1987 Ibanez Roadstar II Bass (RB650) back up bass, often in alternate tuning.
  • Ashdown EVO ABM 500 2×10 Combo
  • Electro Harmonix POG2
  • Line 6 FL4 Filter Modeler
  • Electro Harmonix Bassballs
  • Jam Man Loop Station
  • Yamaha SPX 90 Multi-effects Rack

Why I play the bass:

When I was a teenager, my best friends had a band and needed a bass player. My brother played bass (and two other brothers played trumpet and guitar), so it seemed I must have some musical ability. Metal was the music of the day and it did a lot to influence me then as it does to this day (even though I play jazz and funk).

I was immediately interested in the playing of Steve Harris (Iron Maiden) and Bob Daisley (Ozzy Osborne’s Bark at The Moon and earlier era) – driving, fast, powerful.

Later I got introduced to jazz and funk. I was mesmerized by Rocco Prestia and Jaco Pastorius at first, and later the virtuosos like Michael Manring and Stu Hamm – players that pushed the instrument beyond four strings going thump thump thump.

All these years later, I am still playing.

My bass superpower/claim to fame

DJ Logic once said my playing was “the shit.”

Michael Manring also said some nice things about me (this one is through someone else, and was not said to me directly).

My influences

Jaco Pastorius, Rocco Prestia, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Chris Wood, Michael Manring, Stu Hamm, Laurence Cottle, Mark Egan… how much time we got?

Check out Dave’s Music:

Here is a live album by A Modest Menagerie, Lion?.?.?.?Tigers and Jazz Oh My, recorded December 15, 2011:

More on the web:

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  1. One of my favorite musicians to create with. Great artistic sensibilities with roots dug down deep into pocket of groove.