Oteil From Egypt -- via Washington, D.C. Oteil was born on August 24, 1964, in Washington, D.C. His Egyptian first name means "explorer" or "wanderer". He has two sisters and a brother. The Burbridge children were raised with an appreciation of music. According to Oteil, their parents hoped playing instruments and listening to music would keep them off the streets.
Oteil tried trumpet, piano, and violin before settling on drums at age 8, inspired by his father's penchant for jazz. He also followed his older brother Kofi, a flute prodigy, into acting and dancing which led to appearances in plays, commercials, a local children's TV series, and movies. In 1979 he had a role in "Being There" with Peter Sellers.
At 14 a growth spurt put an end to his dancing career, so Oteil started fooling around with a Beatle Bass copy Kofi left behind on a visit home from the North Carolina School of the Arts. Oteil recalls, "In no time, I was totally hooked. I started learning songs and watching how people played the instrument. I would call Kofi, and he'd help me to tune the bass over the phone!"
A Passion Matures Recognizing his passion for the bass, Kofi and Oteil's father turned him on to jazz and fusion bass greats such as Jaco, Stanley Clarke, Alphonso Johnson, Paul Jackson, Ron Carter, Milt Hinton, and Paul Chambers. In addition, Oteil immersed himself in the funk of Larry Graham, Verdine White, Louis Johnson, Bernard Edwards, and Bootsy Collins.
After receiving a '79 Jazz Bass for his 17th birthday, Oteil found himself playing everywhere from jazz clubs with much older musicians to heavy metal halls with schoolmates. "I had pretty much decided to become a musician," he notes, "but I was too afraid to tell my folks, because they had already been through that with Kofi at an early age.
While contemplating what to do, I got tickets to a Weather Report concert and it changed my life. Seeing that show gave me faith in my decision and made me realize I didn't care about the risk; it would be worth it if I could end up where they were. Fortunately, my parents were very supportive of my choice; they let me live at home and bypass college while I continued to study on my own."
From Beach ... At 18 Oteil joined a Virginia Beach Top-40 cover band on Kofi's recommendation, and moved away from home. Although the band's music was typically '80s, Oteil used the experince wisely, honing his style, experimenting with different styles of basses, and playing with other local musicians, including Victor Wooten, Keith Horne, and James Genus of the Virginia Bass Pack.
Three years later Oteil moved on to Atlanta, with both his spirit and funds about to run out. It was then Colonel Bruce Hampton "rescued" him and the foundation of the jazzy, jammin', zambi Aquarium Rescue Unit (ARU) was formed. With ARU Oteil found his groove and soon toured and played relentlessly with the band and deeply immersed himself in many side projects, guest appearances and session work as well.
... to Peach One of those side projects was Frogwings with Allman Brothers Band founder and drummer, Butch Trucks. When the ABB needed a bassist in 1997 Butch recommended Oteil for the slot. Oteil passed a grueling series of auditions with the band in FL and debuted with them at Great Woods Amphitheater in Boston, MA on June 20, 1997. Oteil immediately earned the love of fans with his heart thumping, barefooted, scatting style -- and 6-string bass version of "Little Martha".
Today he continues to tour with the Allman Brothers Band, play whenever possible with the ever-evolving Oteil and the Peacemakers and has recently hopped on board Gov't Mule. While that schedule might leave anyone else breathless, it leaves Oteil energized for spontaneous sittings-in with other assorted funk and jambands and participating in a brand-new project with ex-Phisherman Paige McConnell (on keyboards including the Hammond B3) and Russell Batiste from the Funky Meters (on drums).
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