Chances are you have listened to Nathan East ­perform before — you just may not know it. The UC San Diego alumnus performed for millions around the globe at the Grammy Awards, joining Daft Punk on their chart-topping hit, “Get Lucky,” with Pharrell and Stevie Wonder. East provided the baseline for the popular song, which won Record of the Year.
East is one of the world’s best bass guitarists, who has played with the likes of jazz, rock, and pop royalty from Michael Jackson and Eric Clapton, to Paul McCartney and Beyoncé. On Saturday, February 1, East will return home to his alma mater for a one-time public performance entitled “Eastbound: Home” in the Conrad Prebys Concert Hall at UC San Diego. All proceeds will go to scholarships for current students attending UC San Diego’s Thurgood Marshall College who graduated from The Preuss School UCSD, a charter middle and high school for low income students who strive to become the first in their families to graduate from college.
The special UC San Diego appearance will feature East performing with local jazz musicians and friends, members of his family, and former UC San Diego professors including Cecil Lytle. The event is part of the annual Lytle Benefit Concert series, which raises funds each year for undergraduate scholarships — a cause that is especially close to East’s heart.
“We are so fortunate to have Nathan perform for the San Diego and campus community,” says professor emeritus Cecil Lytle, who established the concert series 18 years ago to support scholarships for first generation college students. “Nathan has always been generous with his time and resources to support UC San Diego and its students, and we are thrilled that he is sharing his talent with us during such an exciting time. In fact, we moved the concert date to accommodate his performance at the Grammys.”
In addition to playing with the likes of Clapton and Madonna, East has topped Billboard jazz charts with his band Fourplay and will release his first solo album, Nathan East, on March 25. The new album will feature appearances by members Fourplay, as well as Stevie Wonder and Sara Bareilles.
A native of San Diego and graduate of Crawford High School, East began his music career as a teenager when he was hired by Barry White for a national tour. He became a member of the Love Unlimited Orchestra (“Love’s Theme”) playing Madison Square Garden, the Apollo Theater, and other major venues while he was still a teenager.
In 1978, East earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Performance from UC San Diego. He began work on a master’s degree when instructor Bertram Turetzky suggested that he already had enough education and that it was time for him to move to Los Angeles to start his lucrative music career.
“The rest, as they say, is history,” says Lytle, who is a former professor and personal friend of East.
The concert, hosted by UCSD Alumni, is set for 3-5pm in the Conrad Prebys Concert Hall at UC San Diego. Tickets, which are entirely tax deductible, are $75 for general admission, $60 for alumni, and $20 for students with valid ID from any school. Parking is free; tickets will be held at the door. (858.534.1507, rels.ucsd.edu)