Eliot Seppa is an upright and electric bassist, composer, and bandleader from the Washington, DC area. He has always been influenced by a variety of different musical styles - as a child, Eliot heard his dad's favorite rock and folk music at home while also becoming more and more influenced by the hip-hop, R&B, go-go, and Latin American music that he would hear at school and friend's house. Eliot began studying classical bass with the late George Vance and performing classical music when he was nine years old. By high school, he was playing jazz and musical theater gigs outside of school, as well as playing electric bass in rock and hip-hop bands.
Eliot attended Howard University, where he graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Music - Jazz Studies, studying under professors Steve Novosel (jazz bass), Jeffrey Koczela (classical bass), and Charlie Young (jazz improvisation). He played in the Howard University Jazz Ensemble, Jazztet, and Orchestra. As one of the only bassists in Howard's jazz department at the time, he gained invaluable experience backing up countless vocalists and instrumentalists, as well as the school’s premiere vocal jazz ensemble, Afro Blue, in performances on and off campus. In 2013, Eliot accompanied Afro Blue for a performance at the White House, complete with a personal concert for President Obama and the First Lady. Also, in 2013, Eliot joined Howard's premiere small jazz group, the Jazztet, for a week long tour of Senegal.
Eliot has been active in the DC/Baltimore and East Coast jazz scenes since high school. As a young man, while studying at Howard, he "cut his teeth" playing jazz gigs almost every night. Eliot has performed with local and touring artists at all of DC’s major venues, including the Kennedy Center, Blues Alley, the Hamilton, Union Stage, the Lincoln Theater, and the Howard Theater. He has had the honor of performing with internationally renowned straight-ahead jazz artists such as Cyrus Chestnut, Warren Wolf, Benito Gonzalez, Chuck Redd, Sarah McKenzie, and Sharon Clark. He can be seen performing around the DC area often with the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, the Donvonte McCoy Quintet, Todd Marcus, and many more. Eliot has also made a name for himself as a bandleader and composer, presenting duo, trio, and quartet performances at many venues and events around the DC area, including the DC Jazz Festival.
Because of his ability to play both upright and electric bass and affinity for playing many different styles, Eliot has become heavily involved in the worlds of not only jazz, but also pop, R&B, neo-soul, hip-hop, rock, and everything in between. He has had the honor of sharing the stage with genre-crossing artists such as Raul Midon, Braxton Cook, Christie Dashiell, Mark Meadows, and Rochelle Rice. Eliot also regularly backs up singer-songwriters Cecily Bumbray, Alison Carney, Chris Urquiaga, Sitali, rapper/tap dancer Joseph Webb, as well as many others. He is a founding member of groups such as hip-hop/neo-soul/experimental trio, the Jazz Collective, with Dante Pope and Deante Haggerty Willis, as well as the Jogo Project, a band dedicated to fusing DC’s native music, go-go, with jazz and other styles into a fresh new sound. He is also the house bassist for Zach Cutler’s Triflin’ Tuesdays and Wildin’ Wednesdays, where the DC area’s finest funk, neo-soul, and hip-hop artists and musicians come to collaborate every month.
While studying at Howard, Eliot became the bassist at the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel service every Sunday, without having any previous experience playing Gospel music. At Chapel from 2011-2015, he honed his electric bass skills and his ears with the Chapel’s Community Choir, the Howard Gospel Choir, and the Howard Community Choir. Since then, Eliot has played at many churches with many choirs around the DC area and has had the great honor of performing extensively with Reverend Nolan Williams & Voices of Inspiration. He has been holding down the bass chair in the Music Ministry of Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Northeast Washington, DC since 2015, where he currently plays every Sunday.
Eliot’s love for music extends beyond the boundaries of the US – he has had extensive experience performing African, Latin American, and Caribbean music as well. He has performed extensively with Malian Griot Cheik Hamala, afrobeat/reggae band Eme & Heteru, legendary Trinidadian steel pannist Ken “Professor” Philmore, and Latin Jazz groups such as Just Vibe Ensemble and Leo Maxey’s Maximal Winds. Playing these styles of music has helped Eliot to understand the importance of feeling rhythm deeply, something that he applies to all styles of music.
He has recorded upright and electric bass on many albums of many different genres. He has also performed on radio and television on programs such as NPR, the Kojo Nnamdi Show, “Live at 5” on WPFW, Fox News, DC Public Television, Maryland Public Television, and more.
Eliot is currently pursuing a Master in Music in Jazz Studies from Howard University.
"Eliot Seppa is a rising talent on the bass, holding his own in a bassist-heavy town. In the past two years, his broad, bounding sound has grown up; he now plays with the an assurance often reserved for much older players, even while retaining the verve of a youthful comer."
- Giovanni Russonello, Capital Bop