Aretha Tillotson is a Canadian upright and electric bassist and composer. Along with her own quartet, she has played with the University of Toronto’s big band with Dave Liebman and Norma Winstone. She has performed as a side woman Mike Murley, Jim Head, and Charlie Austin. Aretha has performed with her quartet across Canada and in the United States at a number of venues, including The Rex, The Yardbird Suite, The Jubilee Auditorium, and The Winspear Centre.
Aretha also works as a musical theatre musician, participating in a number of Broadway musicals. In 2017, she worked on the Broadway workshop of Hadestown, working with MD Liam Robinson. In 2019, she was part of the West End/ Broadway’s SIX, and in 2020, newly written show The Louder We Get.
As a clinician, Aretha has conducted masterclasses at the University of Toronto with Josh Grossman speaking about playing in trio settings and improvising over jazz standards, at MacEwan University with Jessica Ackerley, in a masterclass concerning gender and jazz, and with Jacqueline Teh at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory of Music, speaking of the art of swing in large groups.
Aretha has studied at Grant MacEwan University, the University of Toronto, and is now studying in a Master’s program at Berklee’s Global Jazz Institute. In Toronto, she studied with Dave Young and Jim Vivian. With the Global Jazz institute, she has studied Linda Oh, Ben Street, John Patitucci, Danilo Perez, and Tia Fuller. She has also independently studied with David Bowie’s Blackstar bassist Tim LeFebvre. She has recently participated in Ralph Alessi’s SIM clinic in Brooklyn, working in groups led by Kris Davis and Tom Rainey.