Alain Caron

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Raman, Mar 24, 2021.


  1. Raman

    Raman

    Feb 19, 2003
    Montreal, Qc
    Quick note on is he "the best bass player", since a few people have chimed in...

    I'm with the school of thoughts that claims you can't really compare musicians. Maybe you could establish some metrics to do so, such as speed, variety and execution of techniques, knowledge of scales, knowledge of theory, etc. The problem is there is no metric to measure other capital aspects of what being a good musician is, such as "soul", "connecting with other band members", "connecting with the audience", being original in your writing but not to the point of having no base in a given musical genre or tradition, etc.

    Especially for me, the whole question always hits the same wall: I find a guy like Neil Young to be a better guitar player than Eddy Van Halen. Technically speaking, of course Van Halen is much faster and his mastery of scales is way more impressive! Yet I find his music soulless. It's like watching fireworks: Impressive, but it doesn't talk to me. Oppositely, by strumming 3 chords, Neil Young will make me cry.

    And to further illustrate...
    If you want to gauge my personal proficiency, think maybe Adam Clayton or Simon Gallup. You know, solid, simple, steady, reliable with a good touch of presence and originality.
    I used to play in a rock band which I quit due to personal reasons. I went to see their 1st show with their new bassist. As the guy was warming up, I could hear him play scales and arpeggios at incredible speeds, slapping and all sorts of things I'd never do. I thought "Oh my god, now they'll think I was such a fraud the whole time!". Then the show started and the new guy just couldn't keep in place at all! He was soloing all over the place all the time with no consideration for what the songs required, ruining everything. That's when I realized technique and good musicianship are not synonyms.

    This said, I like to be prepared in case some mad dictator puts a gun to my temple one day and says: You gotta choose who is the best bass player of all times or die! Then I'll say Alain Caron.
     
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  2. I've only seen Caron in concert once, and it was awesome. He was playing bass for Mike Stern who was on a double bill with Stanley Clarke's quartet + Hiromi. It was an amazing concert and Caron, who was completely unknown to me then, blew me away.
     
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  3. Actually, now that I think of it, I think that was the first time I ever saw a fretless bass and my love of fretless can probably be traced back to that concert. Whooooaaaaaa.
     
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  4. Raman

    Raman

    Feb 19, 2003
    Montreal, Qc
    If this thread is about to die of its natural death, it would be a crime that this track is not in it.
    [I'm posting the live album version because it's the clearest sounding, but there are a couple different other live videos available on Youtube. Worth watching, if only to visualize the symbiosis between Brochu and Caron.]

    It's got it all.
    Michel Cusson: I was saying earlier how Eddy Van Halen is a guitar genius, but whose music I personally find soulless. Well, Cusson is Van Halen marinated in soul.
    Paul Brochu is just amazingly tight and funky here. We've been talking about Caron, but clearly Brochu is way up there with him. And that's before you even start considering that he's doing the midi synths you're hearing at the same time! In rock music, I often find that bass and drum are two halves of the same instrument. That holds not so true in jazz, where every musician has a stronger personality... That is, until some musicians reach a different level of fusion altogether that combines both being completely free-flying while at the same time being inseparable from the next guy. And here it is!
    And then Alain. What to say? Technically, I'm sure this track prompted many an aspiring bassist to think: "That's it, I quit, there's just no point". Musically, the build up in this solo is so amazing. Musicality for me, with all considerations of technical prowess set aside, is about telling stories where you create tense situations and take the listener to their resolution. Caron here creates a tension-resolution crescendo.
    Pay special attention to the quality of the cheer from the crowd at the end of the bass solo. It's nothing at all like a: "Yeah, that sounded so awesome!". No. The crowd exults as in a thunderous mass relief. As if tension had been building all through the solo, bringing the pressure dangerously high in everybody's heads, and then they all let out at the same time as if one.

     
  5. Smallmouth_Bass

    Smallmouth_Bass

    Dec 29, 2005
    Canada
    As soon as I hear Neil sing, I want to cry too but for other reasons!
     
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  6. Smallmouth_Bass

    Smallmouth_Bass

    Dec 29, 2005
    Canada
    I think I am going to have to break this one out. It's been a while, but I listened to it countless times back in the day.
     
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  7. Raman

    Raman

    Feb 19, 2003
    Montreal, Qc
    I understand that you would feel that way about his voice. For years, I had the same reaction to Geddy Lee's!
    But hear at least this one track out. It helped me understand why some people relate Neil Young to Kurt Cobain.

     
  8. Smallmouth_Bass

    Smallmouth_Bass

    Dec 29, 2005
    Canada
    That's a beautiful song!

    I think my main issue with Neil Young's voice is his tendency to sing flat. I actually like the songs.

    I think I read or saw something from David Foster talking about the supergroup Northern Lights they put together to record the song for charity "Tears Are Not Enough". When he was giving Neil some direction on his singing (intonation), Neil's response was something like "That's kind-of my thing, man!". What do you say to that? It's true!
     
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  9. Yonni

    Yonni

    Oct 31, 2016
    Scotland
    I’ve been lucky enough to see Norman Watt-Roy, John Pattitucci, Mark King and Percy Jones close up in intimate venues. All amazing in different ways. They’re all incredible but very different. I couldn’t possibly say who was best as no metric captures the X factor that makes them who they are. Some have better technique, some better timing, some better “feel”, some more interesting note choices, all valid. All contribute to making them great. I just don’t think anyone can ever be “best ever” at anything.
     
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  10. JimK

    JimK

    Dec 12, 1999
    Hate that era...not a fan of that Hakim album, either (on GRP, right?).
    Guitarists/bassists wanted to be synth players.
    Wind/Brass players wanted to be synth players.
    Synth players wanted to do all the above + drums...and vocals.
    :)

    When I did buy a lotta that stuff, a
    Steve Tav album I hadda have ($$$ Japanese Import) Blue Tav...the backing band had Holdsworth, Jimmy Johnson, Vinnie, etc.
    I am almost through the whole disc & it hits me...this is a keyboard-dominated album? Where's Tav's sax?
    He was using an EWI. Duh...
    :)
     
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  11. JimK

    JimK

    Dec 12, 1999
    That's Foster's thing...polish it up so there's no soul/grit remaining.
    There was a time when I really liked his Production.
     
  12. JimK

    JimK

    Dec 12, 1999
    ...and Jaco.
    And Oteil.
    For a bit, just about every bad-ass local bassist I knew played drums before bass. It's not fair!!!
    :)
     
  13. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    As did I! :woot:
     
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  14. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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