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Anthony Jackson--How'd I miss this guy!?

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Scottgun, Nov 28, 2006.

  1. Scottgun


    Jan 24, 2004
    South Carolina
    Just picked up Chaka Khan's Naughty on iTunes. What an awesome bass player! I heard he was good, but never sought him out. iTunes unfortunately does not have CK's other album Whatcha gonna do for me? I will try to pick it up. What else is essential Anthony Jackson? Thanks.
  2. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Backbeat books has put out a compilation of bassist interviews in a book called Bass Heroes.[i/] The Anthony jackson interview is one of the best, most insightful interviews ever. I highly recommend it.

    He's also on a lot of Al Di Meola recordings, and for a trio setting, you should pick up Michel Petrucianni's Live in Japan CD, with Steve Gadd on drums.
  3. Larry99


    Aug 17, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    AJ is a legend. Among other hits, he played that bass line on the O'Jays "For the Love of Money" ...you know the tune: money money money, muhhhh-nay!

    Yes check out the Al Dimeola stuff (Spendido Hotel, Casino...) He's also on some old Chick Corea too (My Spanish Heart and The Leprechaun).

    He was also, arguably, the first to use a 6 String bass in jazz and popular music.

    I just saw him with Chick Corea and Steve Gadd in NYC last week - what a killer performance! (EDIT ...they were filming the show I attended so look for a Chick Corea DVD down the road with AJ on bass!!!)
  4. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    He played on so many legendary albums it's ridiculous.
    Simon & Garfunkel's Live at Central Park is one of them.
  5. He plays with Michael Camilo on the "Calle 54" DVD, and they sound extremely tight. Gotta love those latin grooves.
  6. Headroom


    Apr 5, 2002
    Here's an excerpt from a BP interview where Mr. Jackson talks about his role on those albums:

    On Chaka Khan's Naughty and What Cha' Gonna Do for Me [both on Warner Bros.], you were able to express highly creative ideas while not only supporting the songs but kicking the hell out of the grooves. Is that the most freedom you've ever been given as a sideman?

    Certainly those recordings are among the best examples of blatant commerciality infused with high art that I've been involved with. The basic tracks went down quickly and easily. They probably could have been left untouched, ready for overdubs and sweetening, were it not for my inability to find anything good to say about my own performances. They were competent, but I was absolutely not thrilled, and this was unacceptable. This situation has generally prevailed throughout my career, and in most cases I have had no recourse but to stuff a sock in my mouth and go quietly home. Those who know me, of course, know that often the sock came out and I let everyone know that if they had any sense they would let me redo my parts until I felt they were right. For the most part, this got me nowhere, though I did make many close enemies.

    I will probably never know what could have been going through the minds of Chaka and her producer, Arif Mardin, in allowing me to redo every single note of every single track I played on. To make a fascinating but long story short, Naughty, which was recorded in New York in 1979, went on without concern for the bass tracks. I was given absolute artistic license, with one exception, and an unheard-of amount of time-three months-to recompose the bass parts, whereupon I notified Arif of my readiness to record. I was then given all the studio time that I required. I never found out how much my indulgence cost Chaka, but the end result is as pure an example as exists, in my own case, of the ends justifying the means.

    The performances represent, with only scattered exceptions, the peak of my creative abilities at the time and in that genre. They are, hopefully, only elemental today, but I recall listening to the final mixes just before release and realizing that I was able, for the first time, to hear evidence of a defined, mature, and effective style coming through my playing. This was a revelation, a coming-of-age, and, I hoped, proof that my stubbornness in playing what I heard despite intense pressure to "conform or else" was paying off. The succeeding album, What Cha' Gonna Do for Me, recorded in Montreux in 1980, was made along similar "highbrow" lines, but with the first signs of an end of an era in sight-the budget was down and the time restricted-although the end result remains impressive.

    Unfortunately, reality closed in around us after that album, and the crucial prerequisites to recordmaking of this quality are difficult to come by today. Producers are no longer inclined to grant sidemen, however esteemed, unlimited control of anything, and certainly time is more tightly rationed than anything else. The right combination of players is now highly unlikely, inasmuch as a full rhythm section is seldom seen. Machine augmentation is the rule. Most important of all, few artists of major stature have ever possessed the patience, supportiveness, musicality, and virtuosity of Chaka Khan. I've worked with countless singers, from divas to bicycle pumps, and none has been able to gather and harness such powerful creative forces as Chaka.

    Many people think that you used a 5- or 6-string bass on those recordings.

    I've never used a 5-string, period. Around the time of Chaka's first solo album [Chaka, Warner Bros., 1978], I resumed the search for an effective 6-string. Remember that the first two instruments had not been successful, despite my using Number One [the Carl Thompson contrabass built in 1975, see photo, page 17] for some recording and touring. In pursuing Number Three, I began discussions with Ken Smith and later Ken Parker, but these went exceedingly slowly, so I did what I could to tide myself over and secure, however awkwardly, a sub-bass range for recording. A little common sense, combined with a willingness to experiment, led me to modify my Fender [the "Career Girl," see photo, page 17] accordingly. I raised the nut, readjusted the truss rod, and did much bridge-fiddling until the instrument felt manageable when tuned down two whole-steps.

    I remember feeling rather light-headed, sitting at home the night before the third or fourth session for Naughty, modifying the only instrument I was playing at the time, rendering it unsuitable for any standard project. The rashness of my actions strengthened my resolve to keep on pushing for a true contrabass guitar, confirmed by each minute spent hearing this awesome, thundering sound from my poor, abused 4-string come roaring out of the giant Altec monitors in Atlantic's Studio A.
  7. Scottgun


    Jan 24, 2004
    South Carolina
    Thanks headroom, that's awesome.
  8. That is a great disc... not smokin' per se, just great playing... one of the best 'straight ahead' style playing with EB I've ever heard..
  9. Headroom - thanks so much for that quote - I know someone who loves AJ's whole thing and has the original BP mag with it in...all I can say aside from now having added those two Chaka albums to the top of my 'must buy' albums I don't own is one word...


    AJ is one deep cat.

  10. One of the absolute legends of the instrument. He is the consummate bassist...

    The more you hear, the more of his material you'll buy. It's addicting...

  11. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    My first exposure to him was Al Di Meola's Elegant Gypsy. Just listen to "Race with the Devil On a Spanish Highway" -- Anthony matching Al and Jan (Hammer)'s 16th notes is mind-boggling. His tone and tastefulness on the other tracks (particularly "Flight Over Rio") are fantastic. One of my favorite bassists ever.
  12. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    There will never be another AJ. He is a musician of the highest level.
  13. Headroom


    Apr 5, 2002
    Here’s a link to the online source of the excerpted interview. In addition to the entire BP interview, it contains some of the columns that AJ wrote for the magazine in the early ‘90’s. Thanks are due to the website owner.

  14. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I know there is no such thing as the "best" bassist, but Anthony Jackson is the best electric bassist in the world.:cool:
  15. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Thanks for the link, Headroom.

    The interview I'm referring to was not the BP interview, though. It was a Guitar Player magazine interview from January '86 (Robert Fripp on the cover) and done by Jim Ferguson. I was fortunate to read it around the time it first came out. It really influenced my attitude toward bass playing. He was praising Jamerson years before it was a household name.
  16. Anthony Jackson is one of those bass players that I seek out recordings he's played on. Some of my favorite stuff is with Steve Khan "Eyewitness", "Casa Loco", "Blades", "Public Access" , "Crossings" and "Headline". Sadly I think those are all outta print but they are worth the effort to find.
    I also really like Chick Corea's "Leprechaun".
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I think I have all of those, either on cd or wax. I love the Steve Kahn projects. The Chaka Khan albums remain some of my favorites. IIRC Naughty also includes a pretty young bassist named Marcus. The early Al DiMeola albums where AJ blew everyone's minds by doubling Al's lines was a watershed moment. How could anyone come in and play with Al after Stanley in RTF? Here's how;). AJ's career almost covers too much ground, who has the time to listen to it all? The consummate bassist IMO.
  18. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    If I had to choose, agreed:D

    You can find (not easily) people who can play with more speed but what really separates AJ from the crowd are his note choices and reharmonizations and sense of time.
  19. Ostinato

    Ostinato Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Toronto ON
    Seek out this one:


    It really cooks!
  20. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker Banned

    Jun 10, 2001
    I love AJ. What a musician! The Camilo stuff is incredible. On bassplayer.tv you can se a couple live tunes he does with Wayne Krantz. I agree, there will never be another like him.

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