portrait of young man with a beard

John Bass

Assistant Professor of Music, Director of the Mike Curb Institute for Music

John Bass serves as Director of the Mike Curb Institute for Music at Rhodes College, an endowed program founded by Mike Curb to research, preserve, and promote the musical traditions of Memphis and the South. Through the Curb Institute, Dr. Bass has developed and directs student fellowships, original research, and community engagement initiatives in Memphis. He has also produced pioneering concerts and events featuring Rosanne Cash, Charles Lloyd, George Coleman, Bobby Rush, Ellis Marsalis, Bill Frissel, Dan Penn, Mose Allison, Jessie Winchester, and Kirk Whalum, in addition to highlighting numerous local Memphis artists. Dr. Bass also created and oversees a student-produced concert series from 1034 Audubon Drive, the first house purchased by Elvis Presley, called An Evening at Elvis’ (www.eveningatelvis.org). Dr. Bass directs the Rhodes Jazz Band and teaches jazz guitar, along with classes in the Urban Studies Program (Music and Community in Memphis).

Dr. Bass holds two degrees in jazz performance from the University of Southern Mississippi (B.M.) and the University of Memphis (M.M.), and a Ph.D. in historical musicology from the University of Memphis, where he studied 16th-Century improvisatory traditions.  He is an active researcher of the musical traditions of Memphis and works as a professional guitarist in the Memphis area.

Dr. Bass is also involved throughout Memphis on a civic level. He serves on the Levitt Shell Preservation Board, is a member of the Beale Street Walk of Fame Committee, and is a graduate of the New Memphis Institute Fellows Program.


B.M., University of Southern Mississippi
M.M., Ph.D., University of Memphis