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A.J.- The Most Uncomfortable-Looking Bassist?

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Bryan R. Tyler, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    While I've enjoyed listening to his playing for years, I've had limited experience seeing Anthony Jackson play, other than seeing Chaka Khan on Soul Train years ago and a Hirmomi video clip. I recently picked up Lee Ritenour's "Overtime" DVD with AJ in the bass chair for most of it, and I gotta say that I have no idea how he plays like he does.

    His hands are small with stubby fingers and appear slow inflexible. He makes big hand gestures when playing low notes, swinging his hand away from the bass, so it looks like he'll never recover in time to play the next note on beat. He always plays sitting (which I knew), and appears uncomfortably hunched over his Fodera sig. which seems way too big for his size. His face is constantly contorted with looks of pain and bewilderment, always mouthing things to himself (singing the notes maybe?) and his eyes are wide and intensely darting around, looking like they've just seen a ghost. Yet he plays some of the most wonderful, perfectly timed, intricately fast, and complex lines you've ever heard.

    Anyone else notice this? Do you think it's just his body trying to catch up with the genius his brain is putting out so quickly? Know of any other bassists that create wonderful, flowing lines but appear to be in anguish?
  2. Haha some funny stuff in there, Bryan!

    Like you say, Anthony doesn't look like he's built to play like he does. Those small, stubby fingers don't look like they can pull off those crazy fast lines, on a 6 with 36" scale no less, but they do.

    Anthony has some funny motions that he makes but I guess it's him being into the music? If he didn't do any of that, maybe it would throw him off. ;)

    The Presentation does look big on him but Anthony is a short guy so I would imagine his torso is not real long. Probably wouldn't look as odd on a larger person.

    When he takes a solo and does it all with his thumb playing those fast lines, that looks pretty funny too. :D

    But he's my favorite bassist and I don't think he would be the same if he didn't do all those funny things. That's what I've become to know as Anthony Jackson.

    As you stated, he makes some of the most amazing music ever heard on the bass guitar. I guess you can do all those things when you're AJ.
  3. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I love Anthony Jackson. I would be happy to look like a constipated donkey if I could play just 25% of what he can.:bassist:
  4. I can't say I've ever seen him play.. Are there any video clips online I can check out?
  5. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    ^what he said.
  6. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium

    can you say "hmmmmpfff" ? :p
  7. +1.
  8. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    +1 on watching Anthony... an amazing player, but a friend of mine put it best.... 'Some players make what they do look easy... Anthony makes everything he does look hard'!

    The all time best clip of Anthony IMO is the cut with El Negro and Michel Camillo on the DVD 'Calle 54'. The rest of the performances are just OK, but that trio is worth the price of the DVD. As an added bonus, Anthony does a rare solo that is one of the most unique bass solo's I've ever seen. Truly amazing stuff!
  9. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
    I can't remember seeing Anthony play. He's one of my alltime favorite bassists. I also can't summon the memory of any particularly painful looking bassists to watch, but I can relate it to drums, where I have a fine example:

    Terry Bozzio.

    Never saw a guy look like he's working so damn hard to play the drums in my life.
  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Because it IS hard;). As far as note choices (way more important that speed (not like AJ isn't fast too)) and timing go, I feel he is without peer.

    Three guys in a room absolutely killin'. I agree, worth the price of the DVD for that one performance alone. Great camera work and sound. As anguished as AJ might appear, Michel is the polar opposite. He's the happiest looking pianist I've see this side of the Lawrence Welk Show. If I could play like Michel I'd be tickled too:D

    I always took AJ's expressions as righteous indignation.. "Take THAT, B string!!":mad:

    I love his serpentine runs that cover all six strings.
  11. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    +1 I got a kick out of the shots of El Negro and Michel while Anthony was soloing.... they were laughing and you could tell they are thinking... 'whoa, this guy is from another planet.

    I love that track!
  12. ja ja ja.... Nice Thread!!! He really looks weird playing, but how he plays!!!... He has been a big influence on my playing!!! Does anybody knows if there are any videos of him with Al DiMeola's Tour de Force???
  13. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
  14. Not to hijack this, but what would be some widely available tracks that feature his playing?

    I know his name and that he is highly regarded and well traveled, but I have not made a study of any of his work.
  15. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I don't know about that. I've sat about forty feet from him during a Michel Camilo concert and he just seems really into it and putting in 100%. The feeling I got was "What's wrong with me that I'm not getting what he's doing?". I still came away with a lot, though. Very inspiring.

    He's on the O'Jays' For the Love of Money, for one.

    He's a constant fixture on Al Di Meola albums, but I can't stand Al's playing, so my favorite AJ showcases are his trio recordings with Michel Petrucciani (Live in Tokyo) and with Michel Camilo (Triangulo).
  16. mike sancho

    mike sancho SANCH

    Feb 10, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
  17. I've got a tape with him playing at the NorthSeaJazz festival with Camillo, he sure doesn't look comfortale, but he plays wonderful.

    For drummers, check out Ari Hoenig. One of the most amazing/expressive musicians I've ever heard, but he constantly looks like he is trying to stab his kit to death by using his sticks as a knife/sword. Kinda reminds me of Gollum (though with all respect, because he's an AMAZING player).
  18. Lonnybass

    Lonnybass Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    From what I understand, AJ actually IS playing in pain - I read an article about a year back talking about how he had to wear braces on his wrists because he strained them playing on the latest Al Di Meola album.

  19. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    I have to challenge you on your notion that the other performances are okay... To me the Tito Puente set IS the DVD followed by the Michel Camillo, AJ Set.