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--- Oct 18 2006 Go to category
Subject: Bassist
Category: Composing
From: Eugene  Strader (Indianapolis, Indiana)

Hi Pat.

You've worked with the best bassist (Jaco, Steve Swallow & Rodby, etc...) what do you look for in a bassist? and how much room in your songs do you allow them to be able to improvise? Ever comming to Indianapolis?

Thanks for years of hip music, Peace!

Pat’s Answer:

hi eugene,

you’re right, i have been so lucky to have the chance to play with all of my favorite bass players! (don’t forget charlie haden, dave holland, christian mcbride, larry grenadier and so many others..)

when i look at that list, what all of those guys have in common besides just being the incredible musicians that they obviously are, is their ability and willingness to listen deeply into each musical moment and offer something relevant and special. i think for any jazz musician, the connection to the bass and what is going on down there is so essential to the spirit and feeling of the music, that the way you connect with their ideas is often the core of the music itself. one of the most beautiful things you can hear in this music is when the bass player is able to make all of the musical responsibilities that they are called upon to provide have an individuality that is all their own. this often occurs as an improvisational impulse, but i wouldn’t say that it need be relegated to that. but for me, most of what i look for could only be provided by a bassist with a highly developed sense of how modern improvisation has developed. it actually isn’t a question of what is “allowed”, being a good improviser is pretty much what the gig would be all about.

but let’s get specific here. if it were an emergency situation and i was in a town and i suddenly needed a bass player, what would i look for?

i would want someone who by themselves, with no drummer or other musician playing, could make a great groove happen, indicate through the lines they are generating all of the important details of the music (harmonically, rhythmically, etc) and have lots of options as to how they were doing it (i.e. not just playing the same lines over and over), have a GREAT sound (whether on acoustic bass, amplified acoustic bass, or electric), be a great listener, know a bunch of good tunes, be able to read well, be creative and last but not least, be cool.

and if they happened to also be a killer soloist who had an original way of getting to all the points above, they’re hired!

best from pat