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23/03/2017 - Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin transcriptions

If you're a fan of The Yardbirds and/or Led Zeppelin, be sure to check out the February and March editions of BASS PLAYER, featuring my transcriptions of songs by said bands.

The February 2017 edition runs with a live version of Zep's seminal "Communication Breakdown," found on the recently released Complete BBC Sessions.

The March 2017 edition, meanwhile, goes with "Lost Woman," which opens The Yardbirds' first studio album.

Both top tracks; both great fun to do.


22/03/2017 - Let the (transcription) floodgates open!!

Breaking Benjamin - "Breath"
Meredith Brooks - "Bitch"
Deana Carter - "Strawberry Wine"
Melissa Etheridge - "I'm The Only One"
Sara Evans - "Suds In The Bucket"
Finger Eleven - "Paralyser"
Foreigner - "Dirty White Boy"
Georgia Satellites - "Keep Your Hands To Yourself"
Sammy Hagar - "Mas Tequila"

Hellyeah - "Hell Of A Time"
Billy Idol - "Dancing With Myself"
The Judds - "Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Ol' Days)"
Miranda Lambert - "Gunpowder And Lead"
Miranda Lambert - White Liar"
Lady Antebellum - "Need You Now"
Little Big Town - "Pontoon"
Lover Boy - "Turn Me Loose"
John Cougar Mellencamp - "R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A".
Reba McEntire - "Fancy"

Reba McEntire - "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia"
Lorrie Morgan - "What Part Of No"
Alannah Myles - "Black Velvet"
Nickelback - "Something In Your Mouth"
Bob Seger - "Sunspot Baby"
Bruce Springsteen - "Pink Cadillac"
Billy Squire - "Lonely Is The Night"
Tommy Tutone - "867/5309 Jenny"
Shania Twain - "Any Man Of Mine"
Shania Twain - "Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?"
Carrie Underwood - "Before He Cheats"
Carrie Underwood - "Smoke Break"
Van Halen - "Ice Cream Man"
Gretchen Wilson - "Redneck Woman"
World Party - "Is It Like Today?"
Yes - "Homeworld (The Ladder)"
Yes - "Lightning Strikes"
Yes - "Magnification"


10/01/2016 - SexRex: High-risk, do-or-die live show...
Sexrex flyer

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UPDATE: New album La Force out now!
iTunesSpotifyAmazon

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So, recently, I've been depping for a cool Tokyo-based jazz/rock/pop outfit called SexRex ("Xerxes" spelled backwards, apparently). The group—built around RIka (vocals), Taku (keys), and Masa (sax)—has been going for about a decade, with various rhythm section members coming and going during that period.

Now, after 10 years on the Tokyo indies scene, the band has decided to put on their very first no-support-act live show, to coincide with the launch of their fourth CD (La Force).

However—and here's the catch—if they don't attract 100 fans on the night, the band is going to split up there and then, right after the show! Hence the somewhat dramatic "high-risk, do-or-die" headline.

So, if you're free on January 30, come along and check out the gig, and help keep these lovable, quirky hipsters on track. Who knows, I might even buy you a drink.*

Further details can be had by clicking the flyer on the left, or by visiting SexRex's various social media sites, listed below.

Website, Twitter, Facebook

(*In all honesty, this is highly unlikely.)


02/09/2015 - John Entwistle's "typewriter" technique

So here's a video clip I did to tie in with a Bass Magazine column I wrote on John Entwistle a while back.

The clip focuses on his nifty "typewriter" technique, so-called because of the - duh! - typewriter-like action of his right-hand fingers: In a nutshell, it's a kind of Van Halen-esque tapping, though the right-hand fingers merely act as percussive "hammers"—a bit like Tony Levin's Funk FIngers—as opposed to cleanly fretting any notes.

The section in question is from the track "Talk Dirty," which can be found on The Ox's 1981 solo album Too Late The Hero.

Though I've never found a clip of Thunderfingers playing this song live, you can see him using the aforementioned technique in this video (starting at around 55 seconds). It's also worth checking out his moves here.


10/02/2015 - Print industry alive and well in Japan...

Despite the print industry seemingly dying a slow death around the globe, Japan continues to buck the trend, not least with the latest issue of Bass Magazine:

This month, as well as gracing the cover, DIR EN GREY's Toshiya is splashed over 22 (yes, 22) full color pages, each of which is wholly unencumbered by advertising of any kind whatsoever. Interview, analysis, glossy double-page pix, gear analysis etc etc. you name it...

(Oh, and the band has a new album out called Arche.)

So that makes 23 pages, including the cover, PLUS, a six page transcription/analysis by me. (The track in question is "The Final," a drop-C#-tuning affair that shakes walls when it's played even at low volume - in addition to being one of the band's most popular songs.)

So that's 29 pages. Of a single issue. WIth no ads...

Additionally, the initial print run sold out (you couldn't buy a copy on Amazon), so they had to do another print run!

Holy.

Moly.

Also check out this month's Bass Player, featuring another of my transcriptions (I've been busy...). This time it's Byron Miller carving his name deeply into bass-solo history, with his epic turn on George Duke's "Reach For It."

Just looking at the notation will make your fingers hurt...

But.

What.

A.

Tune...

 

Toshiya

 


15/05/2014 - Billy Sheehan killing it on a little-known track

OK, so a full year between entries is kind of lame, but it's been a busy 12 months:

Moving back and forth between the UK and Japan a million times; becoming seriously addicted to all three series of Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle; writing/arranging music for several TV ads; and inventing a new way to fortify clouds, has left little time for website updates, never mind the actual business of playing the ol' 4-, 5- and 6-string bass.

Also keeping me busy for the last year has been writing yet another monthly column (my second year in a row) for Japan's Bass Magazine. Though the columns recently came to an end, I'm still regularly banging out transcriptions and analyses for them... which—cue dubious DJ-type segue—brings us nicely to the above video, featuring the outrageous bass skills of Billy Sheehan.

The track, "Mr. Melancholy," is taken from the album High Gain Street, by Japanese guitarist/composer Devilish P (also known as Darvish P). Vocals are courtesy of Gumi, a vocaloid creation from the same camp as Hatsune Miku. Don't be fooled by the seemingly fluffy vocals, however, the lyrics are actually fathoms-deep. (The song can actually be interpreted as pseudo-social commentary on the post-bubble disenfranchisement of Japanese youth. No, I'm not kidding...)

Transcribing the two-handed tapping, three-fingered fireworks, high-speed guitar/bass unisons and outrageous bass solo was no walk in the park, but fun all the same. (If you're really keen, you can always try ordering a copy of the mag, replete with transcription and in-depth commentary, here.)


30/5/2013 - Site back up, sheepish explanation below...

What can I say...?

Great plans for a spectacular (-ish) relaunch were afoot: magnums of champagne were on ice; dancing girls (and a couple of fleet-of-foot boys) had been flown in from Paris; and yours truly had even combed his hair. But sadly, it was not to be. My site, it seems, is resigned to move at a elephantine pace in terms of HTML 5, CSS4 and other such Interweb-related whells and bistles.

The reasons for this red-cheek-inducing anticlimax are somewhat involved, and a mere lifetime would likely prove woefully short in terms of explaining not only the big picture, but also numerous crucial supplementary details, so I think it best if I simply spare you the misery and just keep shtum.

Actually, a small factor behind this impromptu "relaunch" is that my mail server is struggling to cope with the number of people hitting me up to ask, "Oi, Glasgow! Where are all the Anthony Jackson transcriptions then, eh!?"

Anyway --long story short-- I'm back up, unashamedly old-school stylee, and with no immediate plans for improvement.

Life goes on...


25/09/2012 - Larry Graham interview / New GCS album

Coinciding with the release of Graham Central Station's first studio album in 14 years, I recently had the chance to interview thumb-legend Larry Graham. (You can find the resulting article in latest edition of the Japanese publication Bass Magazine).

As you might expect, Larry was the perfect gent, and as enthusiastic as ever about music-making and slapping the sweet hell out of his beloved Moon bass.

If you haven't yet heard the new GCS disk, Raise Up, check it out - it's a keeper!


24/09/2012 - Drop-tuned rock & metal transcription blowout

Here's a bunch of rock and heavy/alternative metal transcriptions I did recently, three of which feature dropped tunings on a four-string bass, with particular emphasis on drop-C, i.e. drop-D tuned down a whole-step, giving -- low to high -- CGCF.

And, tabsters rejoice, for tab there be! Sure, tab has a long list of shortcomings, but if you're unfamiliar with drop-D and drop-C tunings, tab helps keep you sane when trying to figure out where the all the notes have suddenly gone on that pesky ol' E-string.

Enough babbling; here they are:

Matt Snell on "Walk Away" by Five Finger Death Punch
Robbie Merrill on "Re-align" by Godsmack
Dean Bernardini on "Face To The Floor" by Chevelle
Eric Taylor on "The Sex Is Good" by Saving Abel


23/09/2012 - Ms. Spears has never sounded so good (honestly..!)

Occasionally you stumble over something that ticks all your musical boxes. Well, this kind of harmonic capering does it for me: well-crafted counterpoint, tongue-in-cheek humour and oodles of style.

Sharply inventive, it calls to mind the work of re-harm stunners Dirty Loops, though with a smattering of extra class -- no small feat!!

Quality with a capital "Q."


06/06/2012 - Phil Lynott cover story/Juan Alderete interview

Things have been a little laborious at chez nous recently, what with having to do practically everything with just one hand -- albeit temporarily -- while bones a-knit and weals a-heal.

Luckily, my Phil Lynott cover story for the June issue of Bass Player was in the can several weeks ago, while I still had 10 working digits. Similarly, my interview with Mars Volta/Big Sir low-end kingpin Juan Alderete for this month's Bass Magazine was also wrapped up pre-bike wreck.

Actually, though typing is possible with just one hand (frustratingly slow, but still workable) playing the bass/piano/guitar/bugle is a whole different thing.

All of which recently reminded me of bassist-extraordinaire Bill Clements. Watching and listening to him again quickly helped me dispel any notions of musical self-pity. If you're not familiar with Bill, check him out here (and get ready to pick your jaw off the floor...).


01/06/2012 - The Devil makes work for idle hands...

To paraphrase Mr. Morrissey, the Devil does indeed make work for idle hands...

In my case, being temporarily unable to play has resulted in an obscene amount of time spent ogling gear I don't particularly need, but deperately want nevertheless... As many of you likely know, this serious medical condition is known as GAS, i.e. Gear Acquisition Syndrome.

Now, I've always been a sucker for Lake Placid Blue Fenders, and when the axe on the right recently caught my eye, I reached into my pocket quicker than those recently debunked faster-than-light neutrinos. (Not sure if this is actually a good simile not...)

Anyway, the curious among you can find out more about this new bass here, while fellow sufferers of GAS, can temporarily numb their misery by going here.


25/04/2012 - Car meets bike; boy meets hospital staff...
bike

So there I am, happily biking home after scoring a pair of second-hand NJ4 Norstrands for next to nothing, when -- no doubt to balance out my karmic luck -- a black estate car broadsides me from the left, sending me flying several hundred miles into the air (and that's a conservative estimate).

Fortunately, the road was made of some new-fangled composite construction known as concrete, which cushioned my fall nicely, and I escaped with nothing more than a broken elbow, a broken wrist, torn finger ligaments and multiple cuts and bruises.

Here's a pic of me and the bike, post-prang and post-hospital.

And, in case you're wondering, the pickups were just fine.


15/04/201 - Monthly column in Japan's Bass Magazine

For anyone following my admittedly patchily reported exploits on these here pages, you'll likely know that I've done a smattering of work for Japan's Bass Magazine in the past, including interviews, musical analyses and transcriptions etc.

Well...it seems, I must have being doing something right, because they recently offered me my own regular column, the first of which went out last month.

(All those hours spent studying arcane Japanese kanji characters instead of 'shedding "Portrait of Tracy" are finally paying off!)

FYI, this month's cover -- on the right -- features bassist/producer/arranger Seiji Kameda, one of the major cats on the Japanese pop scene. Even if you've only heard one J-pop/rock record in the past few years, he probably had a hand in it, one way or the other...

Now, where did I put that Jaco album...? ;-)


09/04/2012 - Line 6 Japan in (imaginary) bass solo-approval shock

I'd forgotten all about doing this track until guitarist/composer AKAGEN informed me that the song/video had been picked up by Line 6 Japan for the company's YouTube channel. Not sure if this is any reflection on my knocked-off-in-two-takes bass solo, but I'm fully expecting the company to come knocking with a lucrative endorsement deal any time now... (Yeah, right!)

The song is a fusion-esque heavy rock instrumental and well... that's basically all you need to know. Having said that, if by some bizarro twistette of fate you're not a fan of lengthy guitar solos, feel free to jump ahead to the mercifully short and low-in-the-mix bass solo that kicks in around the 3:10 mark.

(Headphones likely required...)


13/03/2012 - Spring (and the gentle chirping of pinched harmonics...)

Spring has evidently sprung, and as such, I have finally awoken from website-updating hibernation (aided by the gentle strains of Van Halen's totally kickin' new album!).

Anyway, by way of getting the musical ball rolling again, here are a couple things I've done recently...

Jerry Peek's amazing work on Steve Morse's "Cruise Missile" had been on my (pun alert!) "radar" for years, and was a real blast to do. Jerry's a great guy and a knockout player who deserves far more recognition than he gets. (Bass Player, March 2012 edition.)

Berry Oakley is another player who should really get way more kudos than he does. His seminal work with the Allman Brothers Band sounds as fresh today as it did back in the day. Both Oakley and Duane Allman were lamentably young--just 24--when they died in separate motorcycle accidents: a tragic loss. (Bass Player, April 2012 edition.)


07/12/2011 - Maki Ohguro new single: Anything Goes! "Ballad" PV

Here's the promo video for Japanese songstress Maki Ohguro's latest single "Anything Goes! (Ballad)," which is tied into a long running anime/TV show over here. (Ohguro herself has been around a while, too, notching up a bunch of No.1 hits over the years.)

Though the video will likely make little sense without a passing knowledge of the TV show Kamen Rider (currently in its 40th year!), you may nevertheless get a kick out of the antics of the Edinburgh-born bassist and his muso cohorts.

Incidentally, in a fit of inexplicable madness, I recently offloaded for financial recompense the lovely red and white Fender Precision that features in the video. (I'm already regretting my cash-hungry folly...)


22/11/2011 - Les Claypool & Primus back in the groove

Though maverick low-ender Les Claypool has already stamped his mark on low-end history, the California native's prodigious and quirky inventiveness show no signs of letting up.

During an recent interview I did for Japan's Bass Magazine, the California native waxed lyrical on the joys of recording again with the original lineup of Primus; his quest for the perfect bass; and the merits of a particular envelope filter built into his favorite vintage multi-effect bass unit.

It was the first time I'd spoken with Les, and he was a real treat to interview. Capturing his larger-than-life persona in Japanese was fun, too (though translating the phrase "drone-y, swampy, Hillbilly groove" took a while to get right!).

If you haven't yet done so, check out Primus' new album Green Naugahyde for a real treat. You can cop a streaming version of several tracks from the disk on Primus' home page here.

BM Dec. 11

21/10/2011 - Juan Alderete/Racer X transcription & analysis

If you're familiar with genre-defying outfit The Mars Volta, then you're also likely acquainted with the sterling low-end work of Juan Alderete.

However, were you aware that Alderete was (still is) a member of metal-aces-cum-shred-darlings Racer X (alongside six-string whiz Paul Gilbert)?

Japan's Bass Magazine recently tapped me to transcribe/analyze Alderete's playing on the 2-fingered, 2-handed-tapping workout found on the instrumental track "Scarified" from the band's 1987 sophomore outing, Second Heat.

Sadly, the chances of copping the mag outside Japan are pretty slim (though they occasionally come up on eBay for four or five times the face value...). However, if you get the chance, have a listen to "Scarified." Even after 25 years, the track still stands up, and copping Alderete's killer tapping chops and crisp, plucked sixteenths will likely keep you in the woodshed for quite a while.


23/08/2011 - If you don't know him by now... ♫

Are you familiar with bassist Doug Johns? If not, you really should be...

I thought I was relatively au fait with the Pedulla-wielding four-stringer until I helped him and his MD pull some transcriptions and charts together for an upcoming video project. Then I realized I'd only scratched the surface of his full output.

Three words: W.O.W.

To get a good overview of Doug's music check out his homepage at dougjohns.com or his killer YouTube channel.

You won't regret it, believe me...

Doug Johns

03/06/2011 - Jazz legend Ron Carter still swingin' hard
Ron Carter

At 74, Ron Carter might be forgiven for resting ever-so-slightly on his fairly significant laurels. Not so: The jazz legend continues to tour, record and teach at a pace that would shame folks half his age.

The tireless bassman will shortly be hitting a couple of Tokyo's finest jazz clubs with his Golden Striker Trio, and I was lucky enough to interview him for a Japanese daily. (The interview can be read here.)

It was great to get his take on what's happening in the world of jazz and beyond, and to hear about his various projects (and -- of course -- his time with Miles).

The Tokyo shows can't come fast enough!


01/06/2011 - Bob Daisley and the fine art of being turned over...

If you've ever been been ripped off by a shady night-club owner or jettisoned from a sweet gig due to internal politics or some such nonsense (it's happened to us all!), then, like me, you've probably felt disillusioned with the ol' music-biz from time to time....

However, for a quick shot of anti-self-pity serum, have a gander at my interview/transcription in this month's Bass Player about Bob Daisley's contribution to Ozzy Osborne's "I Don't Know" (Blizzard of Ozz). Daisley's treatment by the Osborne management juggernaut can perhaps be likened to a showbiz version of a "Glasgow kiss." (Look this phrase up; you'll be glad you did!)

Even a cursory read of the BP article will you make you feel a whole lot better about your own problems. And, the next time you suffer a music-related blow -- such as being replaced by a midi sequencer just prior to a career-high 12 nights at Wembley Stadium -- I guarantee you'll simply shrug your shoulders* and laugh philosophically.**

The mag also boasts a highly recommended and insightful interview with Roots groovemeister Owen Biddle, so miss it at your peril!

*OK, so you might swear a little under your breath
** OK, so you'll swear a LOT...

Bass Player July 2011

30/05/2011 - Mini transcription flood...
album pix

It's been a while since I've uploaded a bunch of transcriptions all at once...but it's also been a while since I've had even a couple of hours breathing space!

These transcriptions initially started life as teaching tools, but having sketched out most of the playing for each of the tracks, I figured why not go the extra .75 of a mile and knock 'em into shape properly.

Because these transcriptions were teaching-derived, there's also -- gasp! -- tab.

So, here you are:

Carmine Rojas: "China Girl" (David Bowie)
Carmine Rojas: "Let's Dance" (David Bowie)
Francesco DiCosmo: "Bring Me To Life" (Evanescence)
Rutger Gunnarsson: "Dancing Queen" (Abba)

Enjoy!


29/04/2011 - Brian Blade: Undermining expectations

It's difficult to easily pigeonhole Brian Blade. Most folks likely know him as one of the top jazz drummers of modern times, as evidenced by his superlative work with the cream of the jazz crop -- but it's worth digging a little deeper.

His three albums as composer/ leader with The Fellowship Band ring with melodic invention and top-notch improv, while his surprising 2009 release Mama Rosa -- an intimate collection of guitar/vocal-based tracks -- force a pleasant reappraisal of his talents.

He's also one of those guys who actually thinks about music, and it was a real pleasure to interview him recently about his various projects. You can catch the article in today's issue of The Daily Yomiuri, or, alternatively, check it out here.

Brian Blade

24/04/2011 - Bryan Beller transcription book now on sale!
Thanks In Advance

Solo artist, low-end gun-for-hire (Steve Vai, Dethklok, Mike Keneally, Wayne Kramer, Dweezil Zappa, etc.), clinician, composer and writer. Doesn't the man ever get tired!? Bryan Beller needs little introduction to discerning bassists, and/or readers of Bass Player magazine, where he's been an active presence since the mid '90s.

Last year, Bryan was kind enough to ask me to transcribe the bass parts from his 2008 album Thanks In Advance," and obviously, I jumped at the chance.

The transcriptions -- which run to a spectacular 140 pages -- were personally proofed by Bryan, so you can rest assured they're definitive. What's more, Monsieur Beller has written insightful introductions and performance notes for each track, and, as if that wasn't enough, you can also download bass/drums-only and bass-less versions of the album tracks upon purchasing the book.

Enough of my rambling already! Click here to visit Bryan's digital superstore, where you can buy the book, in addition to CDs and DVDs.

(p.s. For those who like to try before they buy, Bryan has uploaded the full transcription of "Greasy Wheel" and a supporting sound file.)


22/04/2011 - Ah, Mr. Kilmister, we've been expecting you...

 

\m/(>_<)\m/

 

I had intended to tap a few words about my transcription of Carol Kaye's playing on Quincy Jones' "Hikky-Burr," and the second part of my Mick Karn style study, both of which appear in the May issue of Bass Player...

...but let's face it, with the mighty Lemmy on the cover and a feature interview with the Motorhead icon himself, my small contributions pale into total insignificance. ;-)

 

\m/(>_<)\m/

Lemmy

10/04/2011 - Farewell to a pioneering bass legend...
Jet

Ask any British muso of a certain age why they got into music, and chances are they'll get all misty-eyed and whisper "The Shadows" in a reverential tone.

I wasn't even a twinkle in my yet-to-meet parents' eyes when the pioneering UK band first rose to popularity in the late '50s, but I can still reel off a long list of their 69 charted hits, and probably sing many of them in their entirety!

Holding down the bass chair in the original incarnation of the band was one Terence "Jet" Harris, who sadly, passed away in March. Relatively unknown beyond his native shores, Jet was nevertheless a genuine pioneer who championed the electric bass in the UK when it was still considered a novelty instrument (a fact recognized by Fender, when the company presented him in 1998 with a Lifetime Achievement Award).

Jet also was likely the first electric bassist to record a bass solo in a pop/rock setting ("Nivram") preceding John Entwistle's legendary 1965 outing on "My Generation" by a good four years.

Inspired by Harris' career and playing, I recently transcribed his classic work on "Nivram."

If you don't have a copy of this classic track lying around, you can check out a low-res YouTube version here.


27/02/2011 - Notation nirvana for muso geeks (bank loan required...)

If, like me, you love all things notation-related—from the fear-inducing ink-smash of a Brian Ferneyhough string quartet or the beautiful simplicity of Gregorian chant—then you are going to love Elaine Gould's new book, Behind Bars, which is currently being hailed (as per the book's subtitle) as the definitive guide to music notation.

Weighing in at a hefty 4983 tons and costing the equivalent of Zimbabwe, the book covers more ground than all the grass on planet Earth, and effectively renders the word "minutiae" to musico-lexical history.

"Ah," you might be thinking. "What about the books by Gardner Read or Kurt Stone?" And I'd reply, "Noteworthy tomes and no mistake. Indeed, I own 'em both." I'd then likely babble on for several hours regarding the relative merits of each, sending everyone within a 10-kilometre radius into a sound slumber.

Bottom line: If you're dealing with notation on a regular basis and need a reference book that bests all others by a country mile, then look no further this link.

I'm now off to write a solo etude for harp that requires the use of Neolithic toothbrushes, a moonstone-encrusted loaf of bread and William Shatner's toupee, safe in the knowledge that this book will keep me right.

Wish me luck! ;-)


20/22/2011 - At last: Anime-related bass joy ;-)

Just as I was beginning to think it would never happen, along comes the chance I'd long been waiting for: anime-related bass fun. Hurrah!

To be honest, I've no idea what show/characters are involved but the CD apparently has some tenuous connection to a well-known game series and blah blah blah. Yes, there's lots of shrill female voices, shimmering keys, wailing guitars and BPM speeds that make "speed" metal sound about as fast as the slowest ballad in Balladsville. In short: a lot of fun.

Anyway, here's a link if you're remotely interested in sullying your ears: I play on about two-thirds of the tracks, the remainder boasting keyboard bass. Prizes if you can guess which is which and/or give a jot about the whole sorry episode. ;-)

Challenge

14/12/2010 - Stanley Clarke interview / Japan gigs
Stanley Clarke
PhPhoto by Steven Parke

Stanley Clarke's two most recent albums, Jazz In The Garden and The Stanley Clarke Band prove that the Philly-born musician is still one of the most vital voices in the kingdom of bass.

Coincidentally, both albums feature Japanese keyboard whiz Hiromi Uehara, so there was a fair bit of buzz surrounding Clarke's recent gigs here featuring her at the piano and Lenny White on drums. (The tickets for the trio's three nights at Blue Note Tokyo quickly sold out.)

I was lucky enough to conduct an interview with Stanley regarding his recent work and the Japanese dates (the interview can be found here) and he was as enthusiastic about his craft as ever.

p.s. Based on the obvious chemistry that existed between the performers onstage, I wouldn't be surprised if another trio-based album appears before too long ;-)


11/12/2010 - Graham Maby transcription / Pino style analysis

Anyone familiar with singer-songwriter Joe Jackson's output since he first emerged in the late '70s has doubtless marvelled at the solidity, intricacy and inventiveness of the bass work that underpins many of his most celebrated songs. The man responsible for this low-end luster is U.K.-.born Graham Maby -- one of the most undersung stylists to emerge in the past 30 years.

I've been a longtime fan of Maby, but re-listening to some of his work confirmed what an outstanding talent he actually is. He also was good enough to talk to me (despite being mid-tour in deepest darkest Europe at the time) about his playing on Jackson's killer track "Friday" for the January edition of Bass Player.

Pino Palladino fans, too, may be interested in the "Instant Impression" style study, which hopefully helps provide an insight into the great man's thinking and approach to the bass. It certainly wasn't easy trying to cherry-pick examples from Pino's breathtaking long discography, and my recent iTunes activity likely pushed Apple's stock price up by a good few cents. ;-)

BPOct10

10/10/2010 - Fernandes PIE-ZO 3: sunglasses required

Click the above photo for a closer look...

There comes a time when carting a full-size bass around becomes a truly thankless task: i.e. toting a 5- or 6-stringer on your back, in addition to various pedals, leads and accessories in the pockets simply notches the ol' body temp up a couple of extra degrees - just what you need when you're already melting in the midday Asian sun.

I'd been in the market for one of Fernandes' compact basses for a while but had been holding out after falling in love with this particular little spud when I first saw it on the Interweb a couple of years ago.

Made in a limited edition of only five, I didn't think there was much chance of one appearing on the market, but miraculously, it did.

Needless to say, I nabbed it quicker than a speeding poulet.


01/10/2010 - Sonny Rollins: Jazz genius; inspiring cat

There's not a lot to be said about Sonny Rollins that hasn't been said already. While the oft-used phrase-cum-album-title "saxophone colossus" covers a lot of ground -- at least musically -- it doesn't say much about the man himself.

I recently had the good fortune to interview Sonny for a Japanese newspaper ahead of several dates here that tie in with his 80th birthday celebrations (the interview can be found here) and his enthusiasm and zest for life were truly inspiring; so much so that I actually toyed with the idea of buying a cheap sax just for kicks. Luckily, I quickly saw the light and bought a Kala U-Bass instead. (See below)

As an added bonus, Rollins' long-time four-string sidekick Bob Cranshaw will be laying down the low-end for the Japan shows.

Sonny Rollins

22/09/2010 - The Kala U-Bass: small in size; big on sound
U-Bass

OK, so I admit I was skeptical about the marketing surrounding this ukulele on steroids claiming it can project a meaty sound and vibrant warmth equivalent to an acoustic upright.

But guess what -- it's pretty much all true!

I've already used it on a couple of low-key gigs, and once the initial visual novelty wears off, bassists and non-bassists alike have been blown away by the power and mellow vibes of this little monster.

Best thing I've bought in a long while!


20/08/2010 - Kazumi Watanabe / Marcus Miller et al.
tochika

The upcoming Tokyo Jazz Festival 2010 boasts a wealth of riches, including Esperanza Spalding, Ron Carter and Kenny Baron, to name but a few.

Marcus Miller will also be featuring heavily, notably as part of guitarist Kazumi Watanabe's supergroup, Tochika All Stars, featuring Omar Hakim, Mike Manieri and Warren Benrhardt. The group will be reinterpreting Watanabe's 1980 album Tochika, which Miller, Manieri and Bernhardt all originally played on.

For those interested, I recently interviewed Watanabe (the article can be found here) and he waxed freely about the festival among other topics, including the time his guitar strap broke while he was playing a show with Richard Bona...ouch!


16/08/2010 - Sumida Jazz Festival

I usually don't bother to flag most of the gigs I do as they're customarily in some tin-pot dive in Nowhereseville playing for the music, man, ya dig? (You know, the Tokyo Blue Note, the Budokan and other little cupboards like that...) However, this gig is pretty cool -- the Sumida Jazz Festival.

A sprawling two-day event, it features the likes of trumpet legend Terumasa Hino and a host of other quality cats, including an appearance by Basie Orchestra pianist-cum-Roy Hargrove's keyboard man, Tony Suggs.

We (稲田・渉様グループ) hit the stage at 3 p.m on Sat. 21,. at Alka Central, which is in front of Kinshicho Eki on the Chuo, Sobu and Hanzomon Lines.

Hope to see you there!

SSJF

02/08/2010 - Bob Babbitt's "Scorpio" / Marvin Isley's bass legacy

It's not often that a Top 10 Billboard hit features a bass solo, especially one that constitutes almost half the song! Such is the case however with Dennis Coffey and The Detroit Guitar Band's 1971 smash "Scorpio," featuring low-end session legend Bob Babbitt.

Doing the transcription was a gas, as was talking to Bob, who is as enthusiastic about the bass as ever. But be warned, if you want to recreate that authentic "Scorpio" sound, you're gonna need a damp kitchen sponge. (I'm pretty sure at least some of you know what I'm talking about!)

In the same issue, I also had the privilege/sad task of taking a look at the late Marvin Isley's style, playing and contribution to bass history—a giant of the instrument has left our midst...


19/06/2010 - Jean-Jacques Burnel ripping it up on The Raven

The August issue of Bass Player features an article on JJ Burnel, one of the most important and influential punk/new wave low-enders ever to wield a bass.

Writing the article set me off on a nostalgia kick...Only once in my life have I ever gone into a record shop and heard a song so good that I actually walked out with the product.

That song was "The Raven" from the Stranglers album of the same name. The intensity of the bass playing and the soaring keyboards at the end of the track completely blew me away and I bought the album there and then after interrogating the staff.

It was in a tiny little record shop on Edinburgh's West Maitland St. that likely disappeared centuries ago.

Ah...happy days.

raven

11/06/2010 - Larry Carlton/Tak Matsumoto (and Michael Rhodes!)
Larry and Tak

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing guitarists Larry Carlton and Tak Matusmoto of B'z (Japan's biggest-selling band) about their new collaborative album Take Your Pick.

Both men were perfect gents and it was a real treat to rap with them both: Larry by phone (en anglais, naturellement…) and Tak face-to-face (in Japanese).

As a bassist, though, the icing on the cake is that Michael Rhodes is a part of the project, and boy -- he lays down some killer work on album's 12 tracks. Rhodes will also be part of the band when it kicks off its tour of Japan tomorrow. Hot diggety!!

The article, which takes up a full broadsheet-size page, is running in today's edition of The Daily Yomiuri (the English arm of The Yomiuri Shimbun, the world's biggest-selling newspaper) but if you can't be bothered to fly to Japan to buy a copy, you can read the article here.

Michael Rhodes!

Can't wait.


15/05/2010 - Gordon Edwards transcription & analysis

As well as being one of the nicest guys I've ever had the pleasure to talk with, New York session ace Gordon Edwards is genuinely humble regarding his sparkling track record, which includes work with such names as John Lennon, Paul Simon, Donny Hathaway, James Brown, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Aretha Franklin, Joe Cocker, Hall & Oates, Carly Simon, Grover Washington, Jr., Van McCoy etc. etc...

Need I say more?

For an insight into how he turned a simple song like John Lennon's "Mind Games" into a mini master class in pacing and timing, check out the transcription and analysis contained in this month's Bass Player.

Bass Player May 2010

05/05/2010 - The greatest album ever made. By anyone. Anywhere. (Ever.)

Take 6

A recent interview I conducted with Take 6 prompted me to dig out all their music, which was -- inexplicably -- nestled somewhere near the bottom of my not-inconsiderable CD collection...

Needless to say, I fell in love with the lads all over again.

I was initially turned on to their stuff while still a music undergrad (thanks Vicky!) and their eponymous1988 debut album turned my life upside down: I started skipping such fun classes as Shenkerian analysis and 5-part Palestrina-style composition, and instead, spent most of my time transcribing this album and trying to figure what the hell these guys were doing...

Since then, it's no exaggeration to say I've probably listened to this album a few trillion times.

And, even though I'm a hardened atheist, when the music is this good, I've got absolutely no problem with the basic "God is great" message that underpins the tracks.

IMHO, this is without a doubt the greatest album ever made in the history of mankind.*

(* Opinion is subject to change on a regular basis without notification.)


02/04/2010 - Billy Cox transcription & analysis

Though Noel Redding is usually the first bassist to spring to mind when Jimi Hendrix is mentioned, West Virginia native Billy Cox also played a not inconsiderable part in the Hendrix history books, appearing with him at Woodstock and on the seminal Band of Gypsys' recordings.

And while my transcription of "Izabella" for this month's Bass Player may look fairly simple at first glance, it takes a bit of effort to make it through to the end of the piece without breaking sweat. Give it a try using two plucking-hand fingers ala Cox and you'll see what I mean...

This month's magazine is also packed with cool interviews and top tips from a bunch of modern-day metal bass-meisters, including semi-fictional legend WIlliam Murderface!

I think I feel a new tattoo coming on. ;-)

Bass Player April 2010