Born, raised, and steeped in the arts of New York City, Emma Alabaster began her formal study of upright bass and voice at Fiorello H. Laguardia High School for the Arts. She went on to receive her B.A. in Music from Bard College, where she studied jazz composition and performance under Erica Lindsay, John Esposito, Ira Coleman and Kenny Davis.
Upon graduation, Emma returned to Brooklyn to work as a bassist, composer, singer, poet, and educator. In 2009, her CD, In the Third Generation the Daughters are Free, was released on the independent label Proliferate Music. In the Third Generation… is a suite of Emma’s original music and poetry, which explores legacy and family history. Sharon Nichols of Chronogram Magazine writes, “This musical memory collage is for the fearless poet, the judicious savant, or, simply, the inquisitive listener who is ready for the next unorthodox musical journey.”
Emma’s intimate and exposed approach to her instruments is matched by an astounding musical dynamic in which her true paradoxical nature produces a sound that is both fearless and defenseless. Currently, Emma Alabaster’s main project, Captain for Dark Mornings, is a fresh and unconventional trio led by Emma on upright bassist and vocals. A Brooklyn native, Alabaster tells stories of home through a surprising communing of cacophonous and catchy sounds. The result is a bluesy, chaotic protest cabaret delivered with Betty Carter-esque phrasing. This avant-jazz songstress has assembled a killer band of big-eared baby-tamers; with Charlie Rauh on guitar and Zach Dunham on drums. They play her original songs in venues throughout NYC.
In addition, Emma gigs regularly with various projects throughout NYC, and has toured nationally. She’s played as a side-lady with hard-core soul queen, tamar-kali in her Psycho Chamber Ensemble at venues such as Drom and Harlem Stage. Emma has performed with and composed for free-jazz inspired quartet Scrap Relation at venues such as Ibeam, and The Stone. She has recorded and toured the country with experimental pop group, SCHOOL, on electric bass and backup vocals. She has also worked with jazz- South Asian group Paghel Meshuggah, featuring Duane Eubanks and Roy Nathanson. Emma works with pianist John Esposito, as a duo and in his multi-media septet. She has toured and played locally with original and improvised weirdo quintet The Curious Shape of Hens. Emma plays regularly with modern jazz group The Leo Ferguson Quartet in NYC. She’s also enjoyed collaborations with poets, dancers, actors and video artists.
Though Emma’s creative focus is musical, she is also a published poet, a teaching artist in NYC’s public, charter and private schools and works in Women’s Health. She has studied bass with Mark Helias.