Pic: Ortal Mitzrahi
The secret of playing bass well is knowing that the first order of business is to lay down the groove. There are countess bass virtuosos out there today. That’s wonderful, but if you want to get called for a gig, you’re going to have to be able play in the pocket first and foremost. I play five-string basses because I like having the low B. I don’t think a 5th, 6th, 7th or 8th string are necessary, however. Jaco only played four strings and made more music than anybody. The same goes for Jeff Berlin today. I slap, but it’s not my specialty. I think it’s a wonderful device, but I’ve never really had the desire to become virtuosic with it. My first bass was a red Ibanez shaped like a star. I was a metalhead. My favourite bass ever to date is the classic four-string Fender Jazz. I’ve always associated it with my hero, Jaco, and it has an iconic design and beautiful tone. There are so many classic sounds that I love, from Jamerson’s flatwound Motown sound to the deep Tuff Gong sound of Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett. But as far as a single album? Can I pick two? Marcus Miller on Tutu and Mike Pope on his album Cold Truth Warm Heart. As far as tone on the bass guitar, both are innovative. Your role as a bassist, no matter what style, is to make people dance. If people aren’t moving, you aren’t doing your job! My latest album is called Home, on the Origin label. We just launched the CD at Birdland in NYC and in Chicago at the Green Mill. I’m getting ready to go back to Chicago to record a live album at the Green Mill, my favourite club in the world: then it’s back to NYC for a gig with Joe Locke. I’m also developing my online course, www.crushthegroove.com, and working on a bass method book.
Basses Lakland Skyline, Kolstein Fendt upright, Kay upright