Bassist Alex Boneham grew up in a bushy suburb in the north of Sydney, Australia. After the obligatory stints on piano and recorder as a child, Alex picked up a jet-black 1/2 size electric bass at age 9 from his brother’s mate up the road. With the accompanying 15 watt practice amp he went on to terrorise not only his family but the entire (previously undisturbed) neighbourhood.
With the help of a primary school with a healthy music program and an exceptionally dedicated bandmaster, Alex eventually found his way into the NSW Public Schools Performing Arts Unit, first in the rock band and then the jazz orchestras, orchestra, and various other small groups.
By the time Alex entered an all-boys High School in Sydney’s north he had realised that the benefits of being involved in music meant both legitimate time off school and endless exposure to new friends...that weren’t at a boys’ school.
Eventually Alex gravitated towards the double bass and began making smaller combos with other like-minded teenagers. These groups starting gigging and soon became a staple of the northern suburbs backyard-party scene. By this time Alex was the only one of his friends who actually needed a diary, a valuable learning experience for later no doubt.
Around this time Alex discovered many of the bass players that would provide a huge influence on his style, notably Ray Brown, Paul Chambers, Charles Mingus and Wilbur Ware. He also began to perform with some of Sydney’s professional jazz musicians in their groups. One pianist in particular, Chicago-native John Harkins, began to instill in Alex the importance of listening, above all else on the bandstand, something which he still values among the highest attributes in all musical pursuits.
Around this time Alex began studying with a great bassist in Ashley Turner, who had just returned from studying in New York with the bass legend Ron Carter. Having hand-written practice exercises from Carter himself was an amazing experience for the teenage bassist and would cement Carter as a primary influence for Alex, with his concept of contrapuntal accompaniment and that unbelievably rock-solid yet fluid time feel.
Alex entered the Sydney Conservatorium of Music to pursue jazz studies in 2006, whilst already maintaining a busy performing and recording schedule. Here he first studied with preeminent Australian bassist Craig Scott, who somehow seemed to perfectly handle the balance between whipping the young bassist into shape and inspiring him to explore his own thing. After a year or so the curiosity of life outside the jazz corridors took over and Alex began what would become a life-long passion in Classical double bass study. Two of Australia’s finest, Alex Henery and Kees Boersma, helped Alex built a solid foundation for working on the technical elements of the instrument, as well as sparking an interest in the music of the great European composers.
The time at the Sydney Con also served to introduce Alex to many of the staff whom he would go on to perform, tour and record with, including Mike Nock, Andrew Dickeson, Dale Barlow, Matt McMahon, Dave Panichi and David Theak.
Even years of early mornings at university could not settle the urge within to study more bass and since leaving the Con Alex has taken private lessons with Larry Grenadier, Ben Street, Matt Brewer, Neal Caine, John Webber, Joe Sanders and Matt Penman, as well as attending Dave Douglas’ Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music in Banff, Canada in 2011.
Alex went on to become one of Australia’s most in demand bassists, and begun to create a presence in Europe and the US. In Australia Alex has worked extensively with many of the country’s major artists such as Mike Nock, Dale Barlow, James Morrison, James Muller, Kristin Berardi, Sean Wayland, Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra, John Morrison, Bernie McGann, Zac Hurren, Jamie Oehlers, Roger Manins, Carl Morgan, Ben Vanderwal, John Harkins, and Andrew Dickeson, whilst also being the choice for many touring internationals including Joel Frahm, Will Vinson, Mike Moreno, Greg Osby, George Garzone, Charles Tolliver, Andrew Speight and George Coleman Jnr.
In Europe Alex has performed in the groups of Rosario Giuliani, Max Ionata, Alice Ricciardi and Roberto Tarenzi. Alex also appears on Tarenzi's most recent album - Other Digressions.
Alex relocated to Los Angeles, California in 2014 to take up the position as bassist with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (http://www.monkinstitute.org) where he has studied with and been mentored by many of the true living legends of jazz - Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Jimmy Heath, Ron Carter, John Patitucci, Robert Hurst, Stefon Harris, Geoff Keezer, Jerry Bergonzi, Hal Crook, Dick Oatts, to name a few!
In 2015 the group travelled to Paris for International Jazz Day and continued on to tour Morocco for a week with Herbie Hancock and Dee Dee Bridgewater. Most recently, Alex performed with Hancock and Wayne Shorter at the Playboy Jazz Festival to 18,000 people at the Hollywood Bowl.
He is also still involved with co-led group The Vampires (www.thevampires.com.au), who completed a successful debut European tour in the summer of 2015.
It’s also no surprise, considering the wide range of interests any young musician acquires, that Alex has been involved in various projects outside of the jazz and improvised music world. Notable collaborations have included touring and recording with UK singer-songwriter Passenger, and working on various projects with Ngarakuruwala (We Sing Songs) - an amazing choir made up of indigenous Tiwi Island Strong Women.
In addition to the immense satisfaction of playing music everyday Alex has been fortunate to be bestowed with various awards over the years. These include being awarded the Bell Award for Young Australian Jazz Artist of the Year in 2012 and the James Morrison Generations in Jazz Scholarship in 2007, in which he was also a finalist the year before. Other awards have included the BBM Scholarship in 2010 and (although not an award) in 2008 he was a finalist in the National Jazz Awards at only 21 years of age.
A discography of recorded work can be found here...
“Boneham’s solos were a lesson in how vigour may be harnessed to sensitivity.” - SMH 2011
“Superb young bassist.” - John Clare 2011