Bhagwan Khalsa, Acoustic Bass

Bhagwan Khalsa is a disciplined, highly-regarded, and sought-after acoustic bassist. The list of musicians he has performed with is quite extensive: Sonny Fortune, Gary Thomas, Cecil Payne, Paul Bollenback, David “Fathead” Newman, and Kenny Drew, Jr., are just a few to employ his impressive musical talent.

After completing studies at the prestigious Grove School of Music in Los Angeles, CA, Khalsa has continued to forge a successful sideman career for the last 20 years, and his original arrangements are essential to shaping the sound of the trio. 

15 Questions for Bhagwan Khalsa


1. Why bass?

It’s the best instrument ever invented… for me anyway. It isn’t flashy but it plays a very important role in jazz (and most musical styles) by bridging the harmonic and rhythmic aspects of the music. It swings… and if I can make people tap their toes, I’m happy.

2. Why jazz?

Jazz allows musicians to express themselves in the pureness of the moment. Angry? Happy? Feeling laid back? It all comes through and every performance is a unique glimpse into that moment of that artist’s life.

3. Why the heavy gospel and blues influences in your style of jazz?

I was raised on the Beatles (my mom’s influence) and the blues (my dad’s influence).

4. What jazz artist do you revere most?

Ray Brown. He inspired me to take up the upright bass, and his groove was all about the swing.

5. What is your favorite jazz recording?

Double Rainbow by Joe Henderson

6. What is the best live jazz performance you've ever witnessed?

Too many to list. Washington, DC has a thriving jazz scene with a gazillion talented musicians. My favorite performances have probably been seeing my friends here in town.

7. Who is the living jazz artist with whom you'd most like to play?

Herbie Hancock & Chick Corea

Herbie Hancock:

8. What is the jazz venue you'd most like to play?

I want to travel to Europe and play in Spain so that I can practice my Spanish! Madrid’s jazz hotspot, El Cafe Populart.

9. What is your best piece of advice for young jazz artists?

Listen more and get your nose out of the book. Use your ears, transcribe!

10. What is your favorite quote by a jazz artist?

“Wes Montgomery played impossible things on the guitar because it was never pointed out to him that they were impossible.” -Ronnie Scott

11. What is your favorite EBT recording/song?

I like Further on Up the Road because it brought the music of the trio to a new place. Horns, blues, jazz, Chuck Brown, tambourine. And it is broadly accessible to music lovers, which appeals to me.

12. What is your favorite EBT live performance?

We played in Dubai for a jazz festival and it was a blast. The stage was overlooking the Persian Gulf, and faced a grassy hill full of people from all over the world. The city of Dubai has people from everywhere, so it’s a great experience to share music and ideas in such a setting. There were also three or four other bands at this festival, from all over the world as well. So it was quite the experience!

13. Why Al?

Al is so great in every way. Musically, he can play all styles, from brushes on ballads to total mayhem on “Message in a Bottle.” And he is always a pleasure to spend time with because he is hilarious and is now is such a good friend. These guys are family!

14. Why Eric?

Eric brought the trio together, and continues to show the leadership skills necessary to build on our unique value. He is open to different styles of music and he incorporates his gospel and blues background into jazz with a fresh approach that appeals to a broad audience.

Additionally, I have said many times that there are few artists who can relate to an audience as well as Mr. Byrd. He has me laughing out loud most performances with spontaneous material. Just like Al, Eric is family to me.

15. Why The Eric Byrd Trio?

The trio has been performing together since 2001, which is a long time for a jazz group. This length of time has allowed us to interact with an intuitive awareness, as we frequently know when we’re taking a left turn, before it even happens. Working with the Eric Byrd Trio is such a gift and I’m very grateful to be part of this ongoing experience. Thanks guys!