Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Okegwo, Ugonna (Ferdinand Alistair)
Okegwo, Ugonna (Ferdinand Alistair), bass; b. London, England, 15 March 1962. He moved to Germany in 1963, where he grew up. His mother is Christel Katharina Lulf and his father is Madueke Benedict Okegwo. His brother, Madueke Philip Gordon Okegwo plays guitar, but not professionally.
In 1986, he moved to Berlin to study with the American expatriate bassist Jay Oliver (1987-88), and with the American pianist Walter Norris (1987-88). There Okegwo caught the attention of many prominent jazz musicians, most notably the trombonist and Mingus alum, Lou Blackburn, who invited Okegwo to tour Europe with his Afro-Jazz group "Mombasa". While working with Blackburn, Okegwo met and played with trumpeter Joe Newman, drummer Oliver Jackson, and the bassist Major Holley, who encouraged him to move to New York. In 1989, Okegwo made the leap to Manhattan and began playing with musicians like saxophone legends Big Nick Nicholas, Junior Cook, and James Spaulding. In 1992, a call from legendary vocalist Jon Hendricks led to steady work as a sideman - on stage and in recording studios. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts (summa cum laude) from Long Island University, February 1994. In 1994 Hendricks even took Okegwo to the White House to perform for the President. During this time, Okegwo's artistry attracted two other gifted young musicians -- pianist Jacky Terrason and drummer Leon Parker. The trio joined forces and at famous clubs like the Village Gate and Bradley's. He has worked with Kenny Barron, Gary Bartz, Michael Brecker, Benny Carter, Benny Golson, Johnny Griffin, Oliver Lake, Wynton Marsalis, James Moody, Clark Terry, Pharoah Sanders, Joshua Redman, the Mingus Big Band, Tom Harrell, and others.
Charles Tolliver: Live in Berlin: At the Quasimodo Vol.1 & 2 (1988); Jacky Terrasson: Lover Man (1993), Jacky Terrasson (1994), Reach (1995), Alive (1997), What It Is (1998), A Paris (1999); Leon Parker: Above & Below (1994), Belief (1995), Awakening (1997), The Simple Life (2000); Jon Hendricks: Boppin' at the Blue Note (1993); Tom Harrell: The Art Of Rhythm (1997), Paradise (2000), Live at the Village Vanguard (2001); Sam Newsome: Sam Newsome & Global Unity (1997), The Tender Side Of Sammy Straighthorn (1998), This Masquerade (2000), Global Unity (2001); David Berkman: Handmade (1998), Communication Theory (2000), Leaving Home (2001); Bruce Barth: Somehow It's True (2000), East And West (2000); Steve Davis: The Jaunt (1995); Donny McCaslin: Exile And Discovery (1997); Rene Marie: How Can I Keep From Singing (2000); D.D. Jackson: Sigame (2001); Michele Hendricks: Santa's Bag: An All Star Christmas (1993); Royce Campbell: 6 x 6 (with Larry Coryell) (1994); John Stetch: Carpathian Blues (1994); Tex Allen: Late Night (1991)
Television and radio broadcasts:
BET on Jazz with Jacky Terrasson 1997; Wayne Brady Show with Jane Monheit 2002; 60 Minutes with Tom Harrell 2003; America's Talking: NBC TV, with Mingus Guitar Band 1994; CNN with Jacky Terrason 1995; CNN with Kurt Elling 1997; Jazz at Lincoln Center; The Studio Series WQXR, with Jon Hendricks 1994, with Nicolas Payton 1994, with Leon Parker 1995; Several television/ radio appearances worldwide (Germany, France Spain, Portugal, Italy, Chile, Japan, etc.)