Inspiration & advice

Here are some extracts from historical recordings, not necessarily well known, which were inspirational (and still are) for choosing bass.

Jean Jacques Burnel

«London Lady» The Stranglers
from Rattus Norvegicus (United Artists 1977)

Age 10 Gary loved melodic punk…

Jean Jacques Burnel – bass, lead vocal / Hugh Cornwell – guitar, vocal / Dave Greenfield – keyboards / Jet Black – drums

Norman Watt Roy

«Hit me with your rhythm stick» Ian Dury & the Blockheads
7’ hit single (Stiff Records 1978)

…and punk with funk.

Norman Watt-Roy – bass / Chaz Jankel – keyboard, guitar / John Turnbull – vocals, guitar / John Roberts – drums / Micky Gallagher – keyboards / Ian Dury – vocal / Davey Payne – saxophones

James Jameson

The greatest…

« Little ole boy, Little Ole Girl » Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
de United (Tamla Motown, 1967)

James Jameson – bass / Marvin Gaye – vocal / Tammi Terrell – vocal / The funk brothers – other instruments

Larry Gales

«Rhythm a ning» Thelonious Monk Quartet in London
from Live in London (1965)

BBC Jazz 625 television broadcast from 1965. Gary’s definition of “swing”

Larry Gales – double bass / Thelonious Monk – piano / Charlie Rouse – tenor sax / Ben Riley – drums

«Raise Four» Thelonious Monk Quartet
from Underground (Columbia 1968)

Larry Gales – bass / Charlie Rouse – tenor sax / Thelonious Monk – piano / Ben Riley – drums

Ray Brown

As a toddler his dad used to hold him and play him like a double bass whilst listening to Ray Brown with Oscar Peterson! As a teenager, his dad watched «Jazz at the Gateway»on TV at night, the volume so high that his son couldn’t sleep. Gary finally gave in and joined his dad and his interest in jazz began.

«Jaybone» Milt Jackson & friends
from Jackson, Johnson, Brown & Company (Pablo 1983)

Ray Brown – double bass / Tom Ranier – piano / John Collins – guitar / Milt Jackson – vibraphone / JJ Johnson – trombone / Roy McCurdy – drums

Lesson with Ray Brown:

This lesson took place in April 1992 in Ray’s hotel room in Montparnasse.

Advice from Ray Brown:

  • Work on accompaniment and practice time keeping (more than solos).
  • Learn standards by heart, singing the melody, in every key.

Red Mitchell

Transcription of Tony Fruscella «Simple isn’t easy»

Red performed this live at the Paris New Morning club during the intermission of a Helen Merrill concert in the 1990’s.

Red Mitchell – words & vocal / Tony Fruscella – trumpet / from Simple isn’t easy (Sunnyside 1983)

Jean François Jenny Clark

An extremely kind man, and demanding musically, he had 2 lessons with him in 1990, a wonderful example and inspiration for a young musician…

«Scott» Unison solo album
from Unison CMP Records 1987

Tribute to bass legend Scott LaFaro.

George Mraz

«Confirmation» Tommy Flanagan trio
from Eclypso (Enja 1977)

This is the bass solo that really knocked him out…

George Mraz – double bass / Tommy Flanagan – piano / Elvin Jones – drums

Thierry Barbé

His classical teacher in Paris, he always stressed the importance of good technique and of keeping an open musical mind.

«Misty» Thierry Barbé «Nomade»
from Nomade

Thierry Barbé – double bass / Karine Roze – piano

Charlie Haden

A masterclass in Bagnolet in 1989, Charlie made clear the importance of sound quality and of saying something deep with your instrument.

 «Anthropology» Art Pepper Artworks
de Artworks (Artists House 1979)

 Charlie Haden – double bass / Art Pepper – clarinet / Billy Higgins – drums

Reggie Workman

from Wayne Shorter «Adam’s Apple» (Blue Note 1966)

Reggie Workman – double bass / Wayne Shorter – tenor saxophone / Herbie Hancock – piano / Joe Chambers – drums

Advice from Reggie Workman :

  • Realize how fortunate you are to be able to study.
  • Give yourself every opportunity to get good instrumental training.
  • Interest yourself in all types of music.

Mark Johnson

“If there is someone lovelier than you” Enrico Pieranunzi Trio
from “New Lands” (Timeless 1984)

Marc Johnson – bass / Enrico Pieranunzi – piano / Joey Baron – drums

Advice from Mark Johnson :

  • Try to feel time in both hands.
  • “Play the bow, man!”
Paul Motian et Mark Johnson au festival de contrebasse de Capbreton en 1998

Gary Peacock

«St Helens» Ralph Towner & Gary Peacock from «Oracle»

Magnificent double bass & guitar duo

Advice from Gary Peacock :

  • An out of tune note has the right to exist. Don’t try and play well.
  • Accept what you play (even if mediocre) appreciate (love) what you spontaneously improvise.

Pierre Michelot

«Willow weep for me» Dexter Gordon «Our man in Paris»
from Our man in Paris (Blue note 1963)

Pierre Michelot – double bass / Dexter Gordon – tenor sax / Bud Powell – piano / Kenny Clark – drums

Advice from Pierre Michelot :

  • “A walking bass line should be strong and well constructed like a melody”

Henri Texier

«Bitter homes and gardens»
from Izlaz (Label Bleue 1988)

Henri Texier – double bass / Steve Swallow – bass / Joe Lovano – tenor sax / Aldo Romano – drums

Advice from Henri Texier :

  • Nothing is more important than “sound”
  • Two things to be taken very seriously are intonation and time keeping

Dave Holland

Hank Jones «Interface»
from The Oracle (Emarcy 1989)

Dave Holland – double bass / Hank Jones – piano / Billy Higgins – drums

Lesson with Dave Holland :

This master class took place in Parthenay jazz festival in July 1992

Advice from Dave Holland :

  • Find the right way of playing according to the style, so that it fits, and makes the music work. Music from the past, such as Ellington’s saxophone voicings are very relevant to today’s music.
  • Don’t be too self critical while you are playing.

Riccardo del Fra

«My Funny Valentine»
from Sings again (Timeless 1985)

Riccardo del Fra – double bass / Michel Grailler – piano / Chet Baker – trumpet / John Engels – drums

Advice from Riccardo del Fra :

  • If you have nothing more to say (during a solo), shut up!

John Brunton Sr (his father)

Perdido St Blues
My Blue Heaven

His parents have always been very supportive in his musical development. His childhood memories are filled with the sounds of his dad’s clarinet and baritone saxophone.

Advice from John Brunton Sr :

  • Vary your style of bass accompaniment (mix it up, don’t walk all the time)
  • Don’t have your amp too loud!