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Meet Cory Kenji Ng

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cory Kenji Ng.

Cory Kenji, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started playing the electric bass around ten years old after my dad showed me Verdine White of Earth, Wind, and Fire. He was always playing their records around the house and I would dance around on a trampoline to his playing. I also took piano lessons up until high school. When I got to high school, I took up the upright bass for four years in the jazz band and a couple of years in college at UCSB. Halfway through college, I met Donnie Laudicina (guitarist) and his brother David Laudicina (drummer) who both attended UCLA for their jazz program. I began commuting to LA every single weekend since the day I met them to hang out, learn and rehearse/ gig as much as I could… so much to the point where I was only attending my classes at UCSB two days of the week! After I graduated college with a degree in Sociology of all things, I was fortunate enough to get a call to tour Asia for Grammy Nominated Pianist David Benoit. After the Asia run, I moved to the Valley in 2018 with a bunch of musicians/ friends/mentors already there so I was fortunate to have a community already in place. I was fortunate enough to tour China, Japan, and all over the US with various artists. These days in LA, I continue to play for David Benoit, Cody Dear Collective, RnB artist Elujay, and weekly gospel church and residency gigs.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road was definitely not smooth, as I had a few extremely rough gigs! But those gigs taught me the most and I’m glad I went through them. I also struggled financially and mentally as I’ve seen all my non-musician peers continue into grad school, get stable jobs, families, etc. while I was in the garage shedding Jaco. Then I would compare myself a lot to my musician friends which became pretty draining mentally. But I learned to just stay humble, be easy to work with, and develop my own sound that’s unique to me. Everyone’s so good in LA so I feel simply being yourself is what sets you apart. That and trusting God to open/ close doors to guide my career!

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m still finding my voice every day so I’m not really sure what I specialize in. But I guess if I were to describe myself, I would consider myself an RnB, funk bassist who takes a lot of vocab from jazz when it comes to soloing. I am very heavily influenced by Oteil Burbridge, the Chicago gospel scene (Donald Alford, Thaddeus Johnson, Tony Russell) and also my bass peers/ LA family I’m lucky to shed with including my mentor/ inspiration Yuki Hayashi and Phil Chuah who both inspire me always! And whoever else they bring to my garage who’s always killing and inspiring. I hope to be a music chameleon and just play every genre appropriately, make it feel good, and speak in my solos if I’m asked to.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would have practiced production earlier in my career because only now, I’m starting to explore it during these Corona times… But I wouldn’t change anything actually… I believe God’s plan for me got me to where I am today so I’m just trusting the process that He’ll continue to guide me to where I’m supposed to be. I know He gave me the gift of music and He can easily take it away so I’m just thankful I get to play bass for a living.

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Image Credit:
Anji Tan, Jonathan “Urgo” Liu

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