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 music executive Mike Curb, whose mission is to foster understanding and awareness of the musical traditions of Memphis and the South and study their worldwide influence. Through the Curb Institute, Dr. Bass has developed and led innovative courses, created and mentored experiential learning opportunities for students, conducted original research, and led community engagement initiatives in Memphis. He has also produced pioneering and historically significant concerts and events that have been attended by thousands of people over the past decade.

Dr. Bass holds two degrees in jazz performance and a Ph.D. in historical musicology; his research on the language of sixteenth-century improvisation has been published and presented internationally. At Rhodes, Dr. Bass is a faculty member in the Department of Music and teaches courses in the Urban Studies and Africana Studies programs. He also directs the Day Scholars Program, which is an endowed scholarship and engaged-learning program for Memphis students.

Currently, Dr. Bass’s research focuses on the Memphis jazz tradition and high-impact pedagogical practices, and he maintains a career as a professional musician in Memphis and the region. On a civic level, he serves on numerous boards, is a graduate of the New Memphis Institute Fellows Program, and has been honored for his work with Shelby County Schools.



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