Sean Malone

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Sean Malone
Background information
BornDelran, NJ, USA
GenresProgressive metal, Death metal, Technical death metal, Jazz Fusion
InstrumentsBass guitar, Chapman Stick, piano, keyboards, guitar
LabelsRoadrunner, AudioImage, Sensory, Season of Mist
Associated actsCynic, Gordian Knot, Aghora, Dream Theater, Cygnus, Gary Willis, Mike Portnoy, Paul Gilbert, Steven Wilson, John Wesley

Sean Malone is an American musician who plays primarily fretless bass guitar and Chapman Stick. However, Malone also plays piano, keyboards, and guitar. Malone did a number of session jobs for various bands and musicians. He is most famous for his work in American band Cynic,[1] in which he developed a strong partnership with the drummer Sean Reinert. Malone and Reinert played on several records together outside Cynic, making them one of the most favorable modern progressive rhythm sections.


In his early career, Malone has played as a session member for groups ranging from latin jazz and bossa nova to British pop music. His first high-level experience in metal music was in 1993 with the progressive metal band Cynic from Florida. He became Cynic's bassist quite unexpectedly; the band had a scheduled recording of their debut album, Focus in a studio in which Sean Malone was working as an assistant engineer, producer and a session musician. Cynic's bassist at the time, Tony Choy, left Cynic shortly before the recording would take place, so the band asked Malone to play bass on their soon-to-be-recorded LP. Malone proved to have quite a good musical chemistry with the rest of the band, and ended up touring the Focus Tour in 1993. The release has received very high critical acclaim and is considered nowadays as one of the landmark progressive metal records.

After the band's first split-up, Malone has continued to work as a session bassist, performing on over fifty records to date. He has also authored four books, "Music Theory for Bassists", "Dictionary Of Bass Grooves", "Rock Bass", and "A Portrait of Jaco: The Solos Collection" (a book of transcriptions of Jaco Pastorius' bass solos) for the Hal Leonard Corporation. In the academic field, Malone has papers on theory and music cognition published and given presentations at conferences such as the Society for Music Theory, The International Conference of Music and Gesture, and The Glenn Gould Conference, and has taught at the University of Central Missouri and Carnegie Mellon University as assistant professor of music theory.

Malone has made one album under his own name, Cortlandt, which was released in 1996 and reissued in 2007. He also assembled and recorded the Gordian Knot debut, Gordian Knot, released in 1999. The album has contributions from Trey Gunn (King Crimson), Ron Jarzombek (Watchtower, Spastic Ink, Blotted Science) and John Myung (Dream Theater). A second Gordian Knot album, Emergent, included performances from Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson), Jim Matheos (Fates Warning), and Steve Hackett (Genesis, GTR), as well as Cynic members Sean Reinert, Paul Masvidal and Jason Gobel.

Mixing with Cynic in Los Angeles, 2013

He re-joined Cynic with Reinert and Masvidal in May 2008 and recorded on their comeback album titled Traced in Air, which received very high critical acclaim. The album was released 14 years after the release of their previous and highly successful Focus. However, he did not tour with the band because of his university teaching priorities. In September 2011, Cynic confirmed that Malone has recorded on their EP titled Carbon-Based Anatomy.[2] On 12 December 2012, Cynic announced that the band has entered the studio in a trio mode with Malone to record the new album, Kindly Bent to Free Us.


Malone has played three basses, each marking different chapters of his career. During the Focus era, he played a Kubicki Factor 4-string fretless bass. Later on, he started using Ibanez GWB1 5-string fretless, most notable his Gordian Knot and Cynic's Traced In Air era. In recent years, he became an Ibanez endorser and started playing a custom Ibanez SR5005E 5-string fretless, most notable for the recording of Cynic's Kindly Bent to Free Us. He played a Chapman Stick throughout much of his career.

  • Custom Ibanez SR5005E 5-string fretless bass
  • Ibanez GWB1 5-string fretless bass
  • Kubicki Factor 4-string fretless bass
  • Chapman Stick


Major albums[edit]

Solo & Gordian Knot
As a guest

Partial discography & other work[edit]

  • Cygnus & The Sea Monsters - One Night in Chicago
  • John Wesley - Under the Red and White Sky (1994)
  • John Wesley - The Closing of the Pale Blue Eyes (1995)
  • James LaBrie - Prime Cuts
  • Clockwork - Surface Tension (1999)
  • Freak Neil Inc. - Characters (2005)
  • After the Storm - A Benefit for the Survivors of Hurricane Katrina
  • Sensory Records Sampler CD: “Singularity” from Gordian Knot
  • Tappistry Volume 2 Compilation - ToeTappin’ Records “Redemption’s Way” with Greg Howard
  • Open Mic Volume 1 Compilation - Thoroughbred Music “Madman”
  • Bass Talk Volume 5 Compilation - HotWire Records (Germany) “Deep Blue”
  • Working Man, A Tribute to Rush - Magna Carta Records
  • Tappistry: Volume 1, Compilation ToeTappin’ Records
  • Jim Studnicki: The Second Day
  • Guitars That Rule the World Compilation: “Explosion”
  • Curtis Bell: The ABC’s of Song
  • Southeastern Music Conference Compilation: Todd Grubbs “French Toast”
  • Randy Goodgame: Randall Goodgame - Red Fish Records
  • Notes From the Underground: Guitar World Magazine
  • Lance Rowland: Prince, Poet, Prisoner
  • Guitar Magazine Compilation CD: “Size 5 Lightning Boots”
  • Curtis Bell: Sojourner- Independent
  • Robert Wegmann: Red Hair- Fumiko Records
  • Tim Mullally: Mountain Hike (independent)
  • Todd Grubbs: Combination- Appollon International (Japan)
  • Steel Tears: Palma Negra R&R Records
  • Southeastern Music Conference Compilation, Steel Tears:
  • Smashmouth: Seed (independent)
  • Robert Wegmann: The Wild Party-Fumiko Records
  • groovediggers: groovediggers (independent)
  • Steel Tears: Steel Tears-R&R Records


  1. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Biography: Cynic". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 August 2011.
  2. ^ "CYNIC TO RELEASE A NEW EP". Season of Mist. Retrieved 6 September 2011.