Welcome to my new website! After over a decade since I started doing music, I finally have an official face on the interwebs. Here you can find some of my past work and stay updated on my progress. Contact me if you are in need of bass for a live show, tracking for a studio session, lessons, or assistance with arranging and composition. I’ll soon have an e-newsletter open to subscribers who wish to receive more information about my music career. Thanks and God bless!

– Leland


Leland Nelson is an electric and upright bassist hailing from Fort Wayne, IN. Born into a musical family, his formative years were steeped in the sounds of jazz, soul, gospel, and classical, among other styles. His journey as a bass player began in junior high and was quickly propelled to the level of local professional by high school age. Only a matter of weeks into his freshman year, Leland had already been given the honor of performing at the Detroit International Jazz Festival with the Downbeat Award-winning ensemble, the Brandon Porter Quartet.

With regard to other notable accomplishments during high school, Leland had his first recording studio experience in L.A. at Studio770. There, he and other musicians from across the states produced Distant Friends, a collaborative jazz project. He later performed with the Sweetwater Jazz Project at the New York City Jazz Festival in 2013. Leland gigged with the same group in Fort Wayne and often freelanced with other local pros such as Alan Parr, Quincy Sanders, and Farrell Vernon. The Indiana Music Education Association also accepted Leland as bassist for the All-State Jazz Combo (2012) and the All-State Jazz Big Band (2013).

While studying at DePauw University, Leland continued to freelance in the greater Fort Wayne area. His variety of playing styles widened rapidly with recording projects in rock and gospel, in addition to pit orchestra shows at Huntington University. In the meantime, his more academic pursuit of music came under the direction of North Texas jazz alumnus, Steve Snyder. Playing bass as a non-music major in both the jazz big band and combos, Leland further advanced his sight-reading and improvisational skills while maintaining the central, metronomic role of his instrument. These skills also found a wealth of application during his extended studies program in Strasbourg, France. Outside of his research in other fields, Leland sought out chances to perform in the city, an endeavor that resulted in frequent gigs with local drummer Didier Hoffman, former bandmate to jazz guitarist Bireli Lagrène. His work as a composer began near the end of his collegiate studies, including a bass arrangement of Marcus Miller’s “Scoop” and a jazz fusion reharmonization of Zedd’s “The Middle”.

Having received his Bachelor’s from DePauw in May 2018, Leland now sets course for New York City where he will join the globally-acclaimed Project Trio for their Fall 2018 season of The Studio, an entrepreneurship program tailored towards young musicians who hope to learn the business and marketing skills needed for a prosperous music career. He is confident that this next phase will aid him in achieving the balance between artistic and pragmatic skills, a balance that he will use for the betterment of not only his craft but also the people who know him and hear him.




Dec 31: TEEJ and the Sidepocket Band, 1 a.m. at Backyard Boogie, Brooklyn, NY

Jan 18: Jake Benjamin, 7 p.m. at Mercury Lounge, Manhattan, NY

Jan 28: TJ and the Sidepocket Band, 9 p.m. at Starr Bar, Brooklyn, NY

Feb 1: MELT’D, 2 a.m. at NuBlu Classic, Manhattan, NY

Feb 8: Owen Chen Fusion Project, 7 p.m. at Gold Sounds, Brooklyn, NY

Feb 16: Owen Chen Trio, 4 p.m. at Bierwax, Brooklyn, NY

Feb 22: TEEJ TR30, 8 p.m. at Expresso 77, Queens, NY

March 3: Owen Chen Trio, 6:30 p.m. at Bar Next Door, Manhattan, NY




First NYC update

After three and a half weeks since my arrival into Brooklyn, I have truly begun to sharpen my focus on music and expel as much energy as can be mustered. It’s certainly plain to see how the “hustle” permeates every aspect of the NYC lifestyle to the point of wholesale exhaustion, but this is still …

Growing pains

Since my last update, I’ve been giving my utmost effort to bring my classical chops up to speed with Capuzzi’s bass concerto, all the while working on solo transcriptions for electric bass and what feels like a multitude of other things. I can think of certain friends in music who moved from Fort Wayne to …


Here’s a jazz fusion rendition of “The Middle” by Zedd (feat. Maren Morris). Ryan Springer (drums) invited me to co-arrange this song for his senior project in April 2018, and we also welcomed Garrett Spoelhof (Spüly G) on keys. This was a fun introduction to jazz reharmonization, something I intend to continue doing with these guys and others!

My first clip since the move into Brooklyn in October 2018 – here’s a jam on “What is Hip?” with the host band at Richie Cannata’s Bitter End jam session. This features Tom Bowes, former Tower of Power vocalist, and Frosty Lawson on trumpet. Only in New York!

These next two clips were both recorded at YouTube Space NY during my time in “The Studio”, a composition and music business seminar hosted by Project Trio. The trio was so generous as to give us access they had earned at YouTube Space through their own channel’s success – one of many perks of participating in this program. This first clip is a pop/bluegrass tune co-written by Josée Weigand and yours truly. Consider this my maiden voyage with singing and playing bass in front of the camera. Looking forward to doing more work like this!

The next clip is my take on the prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite no. 1. I first tackled this piece for a prescreening when I was still in high school. Five years later, my approach to the song has matured in several ways. Enjoy!

Here’s an arrangement I made for Marcus Miller’s “Scoop”, a track from his 1993 release The Sun Don’t Lie. This video was shot during my junior year at DePauw University. Enjoy!

This clip was done in December 2017 while I was studying abroad in Strasbourg, France. A tribute to the late Jaco Pastorius, this take on his anthem, “Continuum”, was done in collaboration with Strasbourg locals Joris Coimbra on four string bass, Erwan Escouplier on alto sax, and Didier Hoffman on drums. All respect to the master, Mr. Pastorius!

I’d also like to share some of my practice material, namely solo transcriptions. Here’s McCoy Tyner’s piano solo on “You Are Too Beautiful”, as done by John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. I chose to play this on my Conklin GT-7, given the wide range that jazz piano phrasing tends to cover. Thanks for watching!