Ugonna Okegwo

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Ugonna Okegwo
Background information
Born (1962-03-15) March 15, 1962 (age 61)
London, England
OriginMünster, Germany
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
Years active1986–present
Ugonna Okegwo at the 2017 Oslo Jazz Festival
Ugonna Okegwo
2019 Aarhus Jazz Festival

Ugonna Okegwo (born March 15, 1962) is a German-Nigerian jazz bassist and composer based in New York City.[1][2]


Born in London, Okegwo is the son of Christel Katharina Lulf and Madueke Benedict Okegwo. In 1963 the family moved to Münster, Germany, where Okegwo grew up.[3][4] As a youngster he enjoyed working with his hands and played the electric bass. At age 21, he took a class in violin-making and started playing the upright bass.[4]

In 1986 Okegwo moved to Berlin and studied with bassist Jay Oliver and pianist Walter Norris. He then joined trombonist Lou Blackburn's group for a tour in Europe and played with Joe Newman, Oliver Jackson and Major Holley.[1]

In 1989 Okegwo moved to New York City and worked with saxophonists Big Nick Nicholas, Junior Cook and James Spaulding. He worked with vocalist Jon Hendricks on a regular basis. He earned a bachelor's degree in Fine Arts from Long Island University, graduating summa cum laude in 1994. In the early 1990s Okegwo formed a trio with pianist Jacky Terrasson and drummer Leon Parker.[1][3] In 1997 he started to perform regularly in Tom Harrell ensembles.[4] He is a member of the Tom Harrell Quintet and the Mingus Big Band.[5][6]

In 2002, Okegwo released his first album as a leader titled Uoniverse. About creating music Okegwo said, producing a note is human and personal and "in a rhythm section, the bass is the center, creating something constantly."[4]

Okegwo has worked with a wide range of artists, including Kenny Barron, Michael Brecker, Benny Carter, Johnny Griffin, Wynton Marsalis, James Moody, Clark Terry, Pharoah Sanders,[3] Steve Wilson, Michael Wolff,[4] Bruce Barth, Steve Davis, Dario Chiazzolino, Lionel Hampton, Sam Newsome, Kurt Rosenwinkel and others.[7]


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

Credits partly adapted from AllMusic.[7] This list is incomplete.

With Tom Harrell
With LaVerne Butler
  • Love Lost and Found Again (HighNote, 2012)
With Peter Zak
  • The Decider (SteepleChase, 2009)
With Dan Faulk
  • Dan Faulk Songbook, Vol.1 (Ugli Fruit, 2002)
With Jacky Terrasson
With Sam Newsome
  • Global Unity (Palmetto, 2001)
  • The Tender Side of Sammy Straighthor (SteepleChase, 2000)
  • This Masquerade (SteepleChase, 2000)
With Jon Hendricks
  • Boppin' at the Blue Note (Telarc, 1994)


  1. ^ a b c "Musician Profile – Ugonna Okegwo". All About Jazz. Archived from the original on July 10, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  2. ^ "Can Ron Blake Retake Jazz's 21st Century Groove With Millennials?". Huffington Post. February 25, 2014. Archived from the original on March 29, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians – Okegwo, Ugonna". Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Ugonna Okegwo builds jazz from the ground up". November 19, 2009. Archived from the original on March 29, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  5. ^ "Trumpeter Tom Harrell's quintet hits hard from the outset". Chicago Tribune. November 30, 2012. Archived from the original on May 2, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  6. ^ "Charles Mingus – Mingus Big Band". Archived from the original on May 28, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Allmusic: Ugonna Okegwo - credits". Archived from the original on October 12, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2014.

External links[edit]