Biography

"One of the District of Columbia’s breakout artists of the moment is undoubtedly Steve Arnold. The young bassist has very quickly become one of the most in demand on the scene, and he plays with aplomb and with dexterity in seemingly every style.” - Michael J. West, Washington City Paper

"Stephen Arnold is already known as one of the most versatile bassists and side musicians on the D.C. jazz scene. His debut album as a bandleader, Sea Change, with his band of the same name, proves that he may be one of the city’s most imaginative composers too." - Jackson Sinnenberg, Capitalbop

Stephen Arnold is a touring and recording bassist, composer, producer, and arranger based in Washington, D.C. Known for his deep sense of groove, earnest expression, and stylistic versatility, he plays with many of the most forward-thinking and hard-grooving groups in the region on both upright and electric bass., including Sharon Clark, Fran Vielma, Brian Settles, Sarah Marie Hughes, Thad Wilson, Simone Baron & Arco Belo, Donvonte’ McCoy, Aaron Myers, Alex Hamburger, and Elijah Jamal Balbed. Arnold is also an accomplished bandleader in his own right, fronting Sea Change, a contemporary jazz band that makes something new from the combination of his deep love of jazz and improvised music with his folk, rock, and soul roots.

Hailing from Greenfield, MA, Arnold’s earliest connection to jazz comes from listening to NEPR’s Jazz à la Mode radio program, which his father would put on every night before bed. As a child, he began studying piano at Artspace in Greenfield. He took up the electric bass in 10th grade under the tutelage of Dave Chalfant at the Academy at Charlemont, performing in the school's rock and blues ensembles.

Arnold earned a B.A. in music and English from the George Washington University, where he studied the upright bass with Herman Burney Jr., who continues to be an important teacher, role model, and mentor and who gave him the tools to leap headfirst into Washington DC's thriving jazz scene.

In 2018 Arnold was selected for Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead program at the Kennedy Center, and in 2020 his debut album as a leader, Sea Change, was a finalist for jazz album of the year at the Washington Area Music Awards and voted the #4 DC jazz album of the year by Capitalbop.

He has performed at many of the DMV's top venues. including Blues Alley, the Keystone Korner, An Die Musik, the John F. Kennedy Center, the Howard Theater, Blue House Live, Twins Jazz, Sotto, Jojo's, and Mr. Henry's.