Volume CVIII, No. 4April, 2008

John Romey

Dear Friends:

Yesterday, in West Harlem, between the times of 12:45 – 1:00 PM, my double bass was stolen.  It was a Barrie Kolstein redish color with sloping shoulders.  I had replaced the Kolstein tailpiece with one from Christian Laborie that was less bulky, and I had a Rabbath “style” hole cut in the bottom of the block for a wooden endpin.  There was a wooden endpin in the back pocket, and some jazz charts, as well as my recital music which included Hindemith Sonata, Carmen Fantasy, and music by Berio, Barbé and Rabbath.  The bottom right violin corner was also cracked as I was about to take that to get repaired.

I would appreciate it if everyone would keep their ears and eyes open and please let me know if they hear of any leads whatsoever.  At this point I’m also looking for a bass to borrow.  If anyone has a second bass of any kind, even plywood, I would be forever grateful if you could lend it for some gigs i have coming up that I have already made commitments too.

I appreciate your help, and sympathy!  It is a really beautiful bass and I can’t describe how horrible I feel after putting so many hours into something.  It feels like my child was taken from me.

John Romey
+1. 443. 799. 6349


Dear World:

Yesterday I received a photo taken on a blackberry by an honors student at CCNY from the advisor to the honors center as well as from the International Studies Coordinator.  The photo was of a sign posted around 120th st. and Broadway saying “Upright Bass Found, black case” and a phone number.  I also received a phone call from a student at Manhattan school of music (almost at the same time in fact) who had seen my posting on  Someone approached his friend saying they bought a double bass off the street and they think it was stolen and they were looking for the owner. 

After receiving no response from 1:30 pm until 5:00 pm, I went to the precinct with the detectives that were on the case.  We made repeated phone calls that were recorded and finally someone picked up the phone around 6:30 pm.  The man made me describe the bass, music in the case etc because he said many people were calling about the bass.  He told me he had my bass and we could meet the next day because he had a race to go to in central park that evening.  The police were not ready to leave this bass for another minute as it was a grand larceny case (the instrument is valued at 10k).  We went in their car and zipped down to his residence.  It turns out he is an extremely kind man who loves jazz.  Two hours after the bass was stolen he saw someone who he described as “homeless” dragging the bass by its neck down Broadway.  He thought the neck was broken and it was obvious that this was a stolen instrument.  He knew this must mean a lot to the owner and that it was of some value so he tried to purchase the instrument directly from the thief.  The thief wanted $100 but he told him he only had $51 and some change in his pocket.  He purchased the instrument for this amount and started posting signs from Lincoln Center up to the 130’s.  This was the sign the CCNY student saw, and he also spoke with the local music schools – hence the phone call.

When we arrived he would not even take the $50 he spent to get the bass.  He said he just wanted this instrument to go back to the owner.  I cannot tell you how ecstatic I am to have my beloved double bass back in my possession!!!  The neck was actually unscathed, and the damages were mostly to the case.  The bass was pretty beat up with two of the violin corners broken, but not past the purfling.  The bridge was moved 6 inches to one side, but overall I believe all the damages are entirely cosmetic.  The bass is now with its maker, Barrie Kolstein, for a complete overhaul and inspection. 

I am extremely touched by the musician community here who has been nothing except for helpful and empathetic.  I would like to thank the students who pitched in and everyone for keeping their eyes and ears open.  The detectives admitted that if it were not for everyone’s help we would probably never have found the instrument.  Most of all I would like to thank the man who purchased the bass who I shall leave nameless. I shall be forever grateful.  I would also like to thank musicians who have offered to loan me instruments  – I have counted as many as ten!  A very very special thanks to Ron Carter who immediately was on the phone with David Gage and paid to have a bass rented for me for a month!  Thanks again to everyone, I really appreciate the help and am so happy to have my woman home!

John Romey
+1. 443. 799. 6349