Dan Ezard is a bassist who has performed throughout the world. He graduated from Leeds Conservatoire in 2005 and since then has worked extensively as a bassist throughout the pop, jazz and musical theatre world, most recently with multi-platinum UK R&B singer Gabrielle.

We spoke to Dan about his career to date, experience working with incredible artists and time at Leeds Conservatoire.

When did you decide you wanted to become a musician?

When I was 15, my school friends played guitar and drums, so we could start a band if I played bass. Our first gig was at the village hall, and everyone from school came, it was wild! I was hooked from that moment.

You were the bassist in Bat Out of Hell: The Musical. What was your experience of playing on the West End, and what advice would you give to other musicians hoping to follow this route?

This didn’t apply to Bat, but playing upright and electric bass is pretty key. If you’re playing upright, you’ll need some arco chops as well. The good news is you’ll also get paid more in the form of a doubling fee.



Can you tell us a bit about your work with Musical Theatre stars such as Michael Ball, Kerry Ellis and Lea Salonga?

They are all incredible in different ways. Michael Ball was opening for Il Divo on a run of festival dates, and we didn’t know we were backing him until soundcheck on the first show. Ironically it was the total opposite of the West End answer I just gave, so I had to sight-read his gig in front of 10,000 people and a full orchestra with almost no prep time. I’d always prefer to do my homework, but it was a real buzz to nail it the first time like that. The next show was considerably more relaxing!

Kerry Ellis and Lea Salonga are simply on another level to almost any other singers I’ve heard live. A standing ovation at the end of a show is great, but I can’t remember either of them finishing a single tune without getting one. The two shows at the London Palladium with Lea to finish her UK tour is a very special memory.


You are the bassist for multi-platinum UK R&B singer Gabrielle. Do you enjoy working for such an established artist? And what are the highlights of your work with her so far?

I love this gig! I’ve been playing with her for six years now, so the band and immediate crew are some of my closest friends. We just finished a sold-out UK and Ireland tour, and before that, a load of festivals once the world opened up again in July 2021. A big highlight was playing in Hyde Park for the BBC Proms live on iPlayer and Radio 2 in front of 40,000 people. 

Watch Dan with Gabrielle live in Hyde Park:

 

How did studying at Leeds Conservatoire prepare you for your current career?

Four years of studying with Zoltan Dekany left me feeling pretty comfortable jumping into almost any musical environment. The ability to play changes, read music and improvise is invaluable in the real world and will position you ahead of graduates from less jazz focused programmes.


What’s the most important thing you learnt at Leeds Conservatoire?

Musically It’s such a deep course of study that you come out very prepared for the real world. My lessons with Zoltan [Dekany] were the highlight of my week, and I now teach my own students a lot of the same. For bassists, the proper understanding of chord tones/walking lines and improvisation is huge.



What are your plans for next year?

A few things haven’t been announced yet, so I can’t say too much, but Lea Salonga is touring next summer, and we have a load of festival dates with Gabrielle. In between the artist stuff, I do functions and corporates, as well as continuing to grow my Zoom teaching service.

Find out more about Dan on his website or follow him on Instagram

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