anthony, just a fun (maybe) sort of question. is there 1 or 2 players that you've seen or heard that you think are technically superior to most others, irrespective of weather you like what they play. same question for out the box lines irrespective of how simple they may be.
i don't care for most classical music but i'm blown away by the technical expertise of most pros.
lastly (still fun), we've all seen or heard of pianists that are autistic savants (http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6734911n) but i've never heard of an austic savant bassist or drummer; have you?
That's a great question!
Actually, there are very few players that I hear that I feel are superior than most. Only 2 or 3 come to mind.
I've been a teacher for a very long time so I don't evaluate someone's playing on whether I like what they do or not. I base it on what I refer to as their 'toolbox'.
For me,...musicians are craftsmen! And when you think of what we do in those terms things become more clear. You not only hire a craftsman for the ideas that they have but also for having the 'tools' to bring those ideas to fruition.
Think of Da Vinci,...
He not only had to have the idea of the Mona Lisa but he also had to have the 'tools' to bring her to life. If he had the idea without the 'tools' we wouldn't have the Mona Lisa and if he had the 'tools' without the idea we wouldn't have the Mona Lisa.
Victor Wooten has the biggest toolbox of any bass player I've ever heard or 'evaluated'! And I've checked MOST of them out. And Victor's has one of the BIGGEST imaginations out there. I'm not saying that he's my favorite bass player,...even though he is one of them. But I like my OWN playing more than I like his. But I like my own playing more than I like anyone's bass playing because I have yet to hear anyone play the bass in a way that expresses what I feel. NEVER! Only I can do that for me. But Victor is not trapped by the instrument that he plays like a lot of musicians are. His ideas are bigger than the bass guitar.
Most of the bass players I've heard over my career are good at 1 thing. Some are good at a couple of things. But to me that's like a basketball player being good at 'driving to his right'. He can be better at that than anyone on the planet but once an opposing coach realizes that 'driving to his right' is his 'go to' move, he can be rendered 'non-effective'. The defenses can 'play him to his right'. He's exposed!
I don't want to go into any more detail than that because it'll be obvious, in some cases, who I am talking about. But listening, knowledge, dexterity, 'rhythmically complexity' are huge parts of the equation. And I find that Jazz musicians in general lack in rhythmic complexity. And Jazz musicians have been horrible writers for the last 30 years. That's why current Jazz musician's compositions haven't been added to the 'Real Book'. For the most part when you hear a Jazz band you're hearing a 'cover band' playing songs written before 1970. If you don't believe me,...just think of who YOU think is the current preeminent Jazz musician of our day and name 5 of their songs. Is it Wynton? Name 5 Wynton Marsalis Songs!
I know of a couple of bass players and drummers who I consider savants,...but I won't name them because they may not like that label. I believe that there is a very thin line between 'genius' and 'savant'.
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