b. Steven Frank LaSpina, 24 March 1954, Wichita Falls, Texas, USA. As a child LaSpina studied with his bass playing father although he had to wait until he was tall enough before he had the reach for the upright acoustic instrument. He subsequently studied at university and in Chicago with bass master, Rufus Reid. It was in Chicago that he first played professionally, working from the age of 15 with musicians such as Bunky Green and Larry Novak. In the mid- to late 70s LaSpina was a member of Chet Baker’s band, worked with Red Norvo, and also appeared with Marian McPartland, a collaboration that extended into the mid-80s and included recordings such as Personal Choice. Based in New York City from the end of the 70s, LaSpina also played with Mel Lewis’ big band, Stan Getz, and at different times with guitarists Jim Hall, Mary Osborne, Jack Wilkins, and Vic Juris. He also worked with Andy LaVerne, Dave Liebman, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Benny Carter, and Bob Brookmeyer, among many. LaSpina has worked with numerous singers over the years, among them Bill Henderson, Mark Murphy, Susannah McCorkle, Michael Feinstein, and Carol Sloane. For several years LaSpina taught bass and improvisation at New York University and other seats of learning.
LaSpina is an accomplished composer and his recording sessions as leader feature much of his own relaxed and tuneful music. On these dates, the band is usually a quartet with regular members being Billy Drewes (saxophone), Marc Copland or Jim McNeely (piano), and Jeff Hirshfield (drums). In addition to playing the upright acoustic bass LaSpina also plays electric bass, both fretted and fretless. His playing is fluid, technically assured, and provides lift and drive to the bands in which he plays.