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Best Jazz/Funk Bassists

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Blacksmoke, Jul 16, 2012.


  1. Blacksmoke

    Blacksmoke

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    Jazz is one of my favorite types of music, especally to hear bass (Upright or electic). Some of my favorite jazz players are like Charles Mingus, Stuart Zender, Victor Wooten, and Jaco Pastorius

    and of course for funk its Mac Miller

    of course I love people like Paul Chambers and Ray Brown.

    So, who are some of your favortie jazz/funk bass players?
     
  2. bass12

    bass12 Fueled by chocolate Supporting Member

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    Stuart Zender and Victor Wooten aren't jazz bassists. And no, I'm not a "jazz purist". :) I'm not a huge jazz fan but Ron Carter is definitely high up on my list. As for funk players, the list is pretty long: Bootsy, Larry Graham, Mark Adams, Nate Phillips, Mike Neal, Rocco Prestia, Me'shell...
     
  3. Blacksmoke

    Blacksmoke

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    I CAN'T BELIEVE I FORGOT MARK ADAMS!

    and oops I ment to put them in the funk catagory, thanks for the correction ;)
     
  4. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

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    Victor Wooten not a Jazz Bassist?

    Unless of course, you're of the mind that an Electric Bass can't play Jazz-and I can't help you there!
     
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  6. phillybass101

    phillybass101

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    when I think of a jazz/funk player I first think of the music that could be classified as jazz/funk. This brings to mind the group Incognito. A classic jazz/funk song combining elements of jazz and funk and worthy of study for many reasons is the song Colibri. The bass player is Randy Hope Taylor. When I think of a jazz/funk player he has excellent chops, can cut notes, is funky and can play a percolating fingerstyle as well as being able to play through the changes. This song, and the recorded performance (studio version) are excellent examples of jazz/funk and jazz/funk bass playing. His tone is something else, real punchy and it is of course a jazz bass or a jazz bass clone he's playing.
     
  7. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

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    I can think of many, many bassist who are Jazz bassists when they play Jazz and Funk bassists when they play Funk. Randy Hope Taylor is great, I love his work with Incognito and he blew me away when he was playing with Jeff Beck-does that make him a Rock player?
    I think guys like Nathan East, Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller, Alain Caron, Will Lee, Pino Palladino, Anthony Jackson and ladies like Tal Wilkenfeld and Rhonda Smith can wear any style well. Hard to put them in boxes and not my favorite thing to do with players anyway.
     
  8. phillybass101

    phillybass101

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    I'd say Musician (first) (without any classification in terms of what type of Musician) who has found a primary voice on bass. Same holds true for all you have listed. I find that most of the bassists that I admire or dig are this way. Musicians first, bass being the primary outlet for their voice. I grew up listening and liking all kinds of music. I have played everything from rainy days and mondays to david Sanborn Tunes to being in a Led Zepplin Tribute band before they were called tribute bands as we did alot of their material.
     
  9. bass12

    bass12 Fueled by chocolate Supporting Member

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    To me there's a difference between being able to play jazz and being a "jazz bassist". I would consider both Victor and Alain more fusion than jazz. I would expect anyone labeled a jazz bassist to be able to walk into a jazz gig and play a night's worth of standards without having to look at a chart. To me it's more than just knowing the theory and some vocabulary - it's about inhabiting a musical realm. But that's my perspective and it's certainly a debatable one... :)
     
  10. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

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    I have been friends with Victor since 1988 and transcribed two of his books as well as done duo gigs with him, and I can assure you he can do that.
    Of course, while we debate this Chick Corea, Mike Stern, Bela Fleck, Leni Stern, Steve Smith, Branford Marsalis and Scott Henderson have all said yes he is.
    Unless, of course, your definition requires upright bass and a Straight Ahead Neo- Bop sensibility like Wynton. Sorry, I've played and loved this Music too long to put it in a box. Parker, Miles, Coltrane, Evans and LaFaro certainly didn't but their critics (who have for the most part been forgotten) did.
    Regarding Alain Caron: Dig up a copy of Tour 90 by Uzeb and listen to Goodbye Porkpie Hat and Donna Lee with Alain on Double Bass playing the head 8va from Jaco on Double Bass. Really cool stuff.
     
  11. rimbaud

    rimbaud Banned

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    I can't play a walking over a jazz standard, I'm a mediocre bassist when I have to learn some jazz melody. But I can sing everything I listen too, cos' Ive grew up in a jazz context. There used to have always jazz music in my home when I was a child. Playing jazz? jazz bassist? be a musician first, that's all the guys mentionned here are, from Ron Carter (just seen him tonight in France, just... great!) to Victor Wooten, that's always the same thing: feel the music first, if you work, if you listen to many kind of music, if you are open-minded.... the rest will follow !(yeah I know I'm a lazy guy on my bass :D)
     
  12. rimbaud

    rimbaud Banned

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    The best compliment I've ever had "you are not a bassist, you are a musician: you feel everything you play or hear, even if your technique is less advanced"
     
  13. pietrocefa

    pietrocefa

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    The Great Steve Swallow!
     
  14. Nitzan

    Nitzan

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    Paul Jackson - great combination of both styles.

    Abraham Laboriel

    Will lee

    Tim Lefebvre

    Tons more though...
     
  15. bass12

    bass12 Fueled by chocolate Supporting Member

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    Have they? I wouldn't know - but hiring such players doesn't necessarily indicate that the musicians you've mentioned consider Wooten or Caron to be jazz players, it just means they want to play with them.
    I actually have very little interest in upright and don't see it as any kind of a prerequisite for playing jazz. And it's not about putting music in a box, it's about looking at where a player's experience and dedication lies. I can play compa, and have done so quite competently. I've been hired by Haitian musicians to play that style and have incorporated it into original material as well. But that doesn't make me a "compa bassist" - it makes me a bassist who incorporates the style and sometimes plays the music.
     
  16. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

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    I have played Western Swing with people like Johnny Gimble, Maurice Anderson, Buddy Emmons and Buddy Spicher, TV work with Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins, recording work with B. J. Thomas and TV work with dozens of Country Stars and yet I don't consider myself a country player. I have been hired by Afro-Cuban Pop Stars but I don't consider myself a Latin Player and by Toninho Horta but I don't consider myself a Brazilian specialist. I've done Heavy Metal tours and videos but I don't consider myself a Rocker.
    My heart and dedication is with Jazz-I've played it at Montreux, The North Sea Jazz Festival and your own Montreal Jazz Festival, but as a working player I gotta do what I gotta do. By following your links I see you have to do that as well.
    I frankly don't know anybody who doesn't have to do that-even Jimmy Haslip, Gary Willis, Jeff Berlin and Janek Gwizdala.
    I guess my question to you is, if Chick Corea, Mike and Leni Stern, Scott Henderson, Branford Marsalis and even Bela Fleck aren't Jazz Artists, then what are they? They are in the Jazz Category on Itunes, they are in the Jazz CD bins in the Record Store. If they hire a Victor Wooten, Alain Caron or Will Lee for that matter to play their Music does it cease to be Jazz? Are those players not Jazz Bassists even thought they are playing Jazz? It seems you are saying that only those who feel that in their heart they are Jazz Artists are true Jazz Artists, and how can any of us but those people know that?
    Carol Kaye was a Jazz Guitarist before she started doing Studio Work, Max Bennett was a Jazz Upright Bassist before he picked up a Fender and started recording for Joni Mitchell. So was James Jamerson. I could go on, but from talking to many of our predecessors the motivation was simple-get a gig, make money, take care of their families.
    So, I am not a Jazz Musician-although I have degrees from the University of North Texas and The University of Miami and have taught Electric Bass at the college level for 35 years with an emphasis on Jazz. That strikes me as too, too narrow. I side with Jeff Berlin on this one-the harmonic control and awareness that you learn studying and playing Jazz translates to any style very, very well.
    Here is a clip of Vic jamming with the former bassist of the Mike Douglas Show (a TV bassist) and a Bluegrass Player who sometimes plays Classical:

    Sorry there were no Jazz Bassists available! ;)
     
  17. thmsjordan

    thmsjordan

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    Maybe a quote from the one of the greatest jazz musicians of all may help here.

    “There’s only two ways to sum up music: either it’s good or it’s bad. If it’s good you don’t mess about with it, just enjoy it.”
    - Louis Armstrong

    Why the need for labels? If you learn your craft, you can swim in many styles, if you approach the music with sincerity and respect. Wooten obviously can do that.
     
  18. bass12

    bass12 Fueled by chocolate Supporting Member

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    First of all let me say that I'm aware of your credentials (well, some of them at least), Roy, and you have my utmost respect. So please don't interpret any of my comments as stemming from insolence. I have a background in musicology and I enjoy looking at the kinds of questions our discussion is generating. I'm not as hard-lined as I'm possibly coming across as being. What you've said above is helping to illustrate my point: just because you might play a style well and, possibly, frequently, doesn't necessarily mean that it's accurate to describe you as "that" kind of player. A player can play a style without having any particular expertise in that style (I'm differentiating between expertise in a style and expertise as a bass player, which I think are generally two different things). So, for example, your skills as a bassist might allow you to play a style convincingly but your history, expertise and awareness of genre repertoire (and even non-performance related aspects of a type of music) may be lacking to the point of it being inaccurate to label yourself a "reggae" bassist (or whatever the genre in question may be).

    Your point is well taken.
    I would describe all of the band leaders you mentioned as jazz players, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the musicians they hire are what I would describe as "jazz" musicians. I would certainly describe Miles Davis as a jazz musician but I wouldn't describe Michael Henderson as a jazz bassist. Sometimes guys just want a different (non jazz) flavour added to the mix and, no, that to me doesn't make it cease to be jazz. But I wouldn't say that a musician is a "jazz" musician just because he is playing jazz or is playing in a jazz context - anymore than I'd say you were a Latin bassist because you've played in Latin bands. I'm not saying that only those who feel that in their hearts they are jazz artists are true jazz artists. I think a lot of it is context and that context is not always one determined by an individual's choice per se. To me it's more a matter of inhabiting the sphere of a given style - of knowing more about the music than simply what is necessary to make the music "work". But that's where my own personal biases come in, and I haven't figured out exactly where I stand on certain questions.

    I wouldn't suggest that a musician can only be classified as being only one "type" of musician (genre-wise) - especially today, with musical cross-pollination being as commonplace as it is. But I'm confused: if you consider it too narrow a classification for you to label yourself a jazz musician despite your background, why would you attach such a label to Victor Wooten? Oh, and I agree with your point regarding the harmonic control and awareness associated with studying jazz - and I'm doing my best to expand that side of my playing. Anyway, this is all in fun and I appreciate your thoughts and links, Roy. :)
     
  19. cnltb

    cnltb

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    Zender Wooten Pastorius..Jazz players??????
    I would most certainly not call them 'Jazz Players' although Jazz informs some of what they do. Not saying they can't do it.
    I think Wooten sure does it well too.
    Some might call it blasphemy to even mention these, no doubt very good players in the same sentence with people such as Mingus.:)
    Neither would I call zender wooten and pastorius 'Funk' players although funk informs some of what they do.Not saying they can't do it.
    On jazz, a huge +1 on Mingus Chambers and Brown though.
    On Funk I'd cite Bootsy Collins, Paul Jackson,Larry Graham alongside a few others.
    Who is 'Mac Miller'? I've not heard of him I think.:)
     
  20. cnltb

    cnltb

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    Playing jazz standards makes you a 'Jazz Bassist'??
    No it doesn't. It makes you a bassist that plays jazz standards.
    I guess you get what I mean. :)

    I do agree though that Wooten can certainly do it and does it really well!

    Thanks for posting those clips!
     
  21. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt Supporting Member

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    So what does it make you if you can play Jazz Standards? What does it make you if you can play a whole night with a Jazz group and not open a Real Book? What if you can negotiate the changes to Stella by Starlight or Body and Soul and play a musical solo and a bass line that makes sense and swings? What's left?
    I've had some musicians tell me it's not Jazz until you play it on a Double Bass. Really? What about Steve Swallow, Jaco, Stanley Clarke or Jeff Berlin?
    The chief reason I went to the University of Miami from NTSU (now UNT) was that NTSU defined "Jazz Bassist" as playing Double Bass in a Big Band, tolerating Electric Bass at best, and not playing anything post Bop or Blue Note. Although I loved that stuff I was hearing guys like Jaco, Stanley, Mark Egan and Jeff Berlin and wanting to do what they did. All NTSU could say at the time was, "Hey, you're a great electric player-you should play upright!" and I wasn't hearing it yet (ironically, now I double a great deal-go figure).
    I think any Musician I know that plays Jazz plays other things and does other things just to make a living because the Jazz Scene isn't what it was in the 50s and 60s (and it wasn't that great then!). It's certainly the case in Nashville, and I believe the only place where it may not be so is New York.
    So, most Jazz Musicians I know play other styles. Richard Davis played bass on one of Janis Ian's biggest hits. Phil Woods played on "Just the Way You Are". You gotta do what you gotta do.
    Why are labels so important? Playing the music is important to me. It just gets to me sometimes that for everyone trying to do something creative there are 10 people telling him what it is, why it's not right, how it could be better, etc. It's the human condition I guess, but a drag nonetheless.
    I think that Victor would be the first to tell you he doesn't just see himself as a Jazz Musician, and yet because he has to be classified by the Industry that's what he's called.
    FWIW, experience has taught me it can be financially punishing to be labeled a "Jazz Musician" in an Industry Town, so I would say, "No, thank you." if I were labeled just a Jazz Musician.
     

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