Reader Spotlight: Zephyr Culbertson Adee

Meet Zephyr Culbertson Adee, a bassist from California who has as diverse a musical background and life as we’ve seen. Zephyr is our player in the spotlight for the week of April 17, 2012.

Zephyr Culbertson Adee


Born in San Francisco, I moved to Marin County at the age of 3, where I lived until graduating from Terra Linda High School. Throughout my youth, when I was not playing music, I enjoyed BMX (bicycle motocross) racing and mountain biking. Starting at age 12, I played in a variety of groups including: Marin Symphony Youth Orchestra (from the end of middle school to my final year of high school), high school jazz ensemble (from which I received the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award), as well as a variety of bands where I played both bass and guitar. I now attend the University of California, Santa Cruz where I study Philosophy and Jazz music.


Santa Cruz, CA, USA

Day gig:

Currently, I am a logic tutor under the Modified Supplemental Instruction program at the UCSC. Additionally, I teach bass and guitar lessons – usually a the beginning level, and I make a bit of money from gigs as well.

Years experience:

I started when I was 11 – nearly 12 – so about 10 years to date.

Bands & Gigs:

I play in a multitude of bands within the Santa Cruz Region. I have an eight-piece funk/afro/latin/psych groove project by the name of “The Copasetic Funk Fiasco” (in which I play bass primarily, but occasionally keys and guitar), a Progressive/Psych/Surf/ArtPunk project by the name of Cape Sound, and a jazz quartet as well. I also play bass part time in a hiphop/soul project called “Joomanji”, and in the near future, I will likely be playing bass in a Ska/Jazz group by the name of “Sketchy Business.” I also play bass with the UCSC Big Band, and the UCSC Contemporary Music Ensemble.


  • Custom Made 3/4 size spruce/maple upright with an “Underwood” pickup (Chinese)
  • Garz, Custom 4-string Purpleheart/Alder Electric (crafted by Mark Garza).
  • 5-string Fender Jazz Bass (Mexican)
  • SWR Studio 220 head with Alesis EQ
  • Hartke HyDrive 4×10 Cab
  • Ampeg SVT 1510 Cab
  • A/DA Flanger
  • Proco RAT Fuzzbox
  • Musitronics Phasor
  • ModTone AquaChorus

Why I play the bass:

I started playing piano at age 8. When I was about 10, I took up the violin. After hours upon hours of listening to the unbearable screeching of both myself and my classmates, I decided to take up an instrument with a more pleasant sound. My parents insisted that I play a classical instrument, so in addition to taking up the electric guitar, I began to take upright bass lessons from my father.

My bass superpower/claim to fame

I suppose my biggest advantage within bass playing, and really music in general, is my ability to pick up on things quickly. So, in other words, my ear. It allows me to work efficiently with others, and allows for a lot more freedom within my improvisation. I am also open to a large variety of styles which allows me to have fun with nearly anyone I collaborate with. Last but not least, I am able to keep a sense of humor about music while pursuing it in a serious manner.

My influences

Jaco Pastorius, Jimi Hendrix, Charlie Parker, Frank Zappa, Joe Henderson, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Aaron Goldberg, Eric Harland, Robert Glasper, Hermeto Pascoal, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Victor Wooten, Ray Brown, Christian McBride, François Rabbath, Frank Proto, John Clayton, Avishai Cohen, Derek Hodge, Mulatu Astatqe, my jazz improvisation instructor, Karlton Hester, my bass instructor, Barry Green, and most importantly, my father, Mark Culbertson.

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  1. Rich kid+sweet gear=envious old bass player (me). Not bad though, not bad.