Anthony Jackson Questions

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by alexssandro, Jul 20, 2001.

  1. I'm not too familiar with Anthony Jackson's career and I have a few questions. I've heard him (I believe it was him) on an Al Dimeola record. And I just picked up Michel Camillo's "Rendezvous." He has a really strong sense of rhythm and his B string is very present.

    What kind of player would you classify him as? I know he can lay down the funk as well. And he can really nail those fast unisons with so much conviction. Does he ever play with a pick? And I also heard that he hardly ever solos. Why is that? What songs does he solo on and how would you describe them.

    When I ran a search, I saw the Michael Petrucciani Trio "Live in Tokyo" being mentioned as a sort of straight-ahead album with AJ on it. Does AJ play any walking basslines on it? I'd love to hear that.
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    He's definitely among the very best and knowledgeable bassists worldwide.
    In fact he seems to play with a pick almost all the time. And he plays sitting down without a strap - even live!
    He has such a good grasp on harmony and rhythm that his bass lines are so cool that there's no need for solos. There used to be 2 (?) interviews in the archive .

    BTW: The records with Simon Phillips/Protocol are very good also - no walking bass there as far as I remember though.
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...yeah, AJ plays some 'straightahead-ish'(walking)on the Live In Tokyo cd.
    More AJ worth checking out includes-
    His stuff with Chaka Khan
    His stuff with Steve Khan(no relation) ;)
    His stuff with Steely Dan & Donald Fagen.

    I have an old Guitar Player mag(mid-'80s) where AJ discussing why he doesn't solo(much) or slap/pop(at all)...I'll try to dig it out & come up with some answers for ya(maybe tomorrow?). ;)
  4. Thanks for the responses guys. Yeah, someone did tell me once that AJ always plays sitting down. He does have such a strong sense of rhythm and harmony. He lets those low notes ring out with serious confidence. And he has a killer tone too. JimK, I think I read an article on why he doesn't solo or slap too, but I forgot what he had to say on it. I remember reading an article somewhere where he said that he faced a lot of "prejudice" in the jazz community because he played the electric bass and he was told it was a "rock instrument."
  5. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Here's some nuggets from AJ's interview in a Jan '86 Guitar Player-

    GP: "Your ensemble playing is inventive & active, yet tasteful. However, outright solo are few & far between. Do you ever decline solos"?
    AJ: "All the time.The problem is the obligatory solo, which implies that some of the weight is taken off of the player. By that I mean, too often the attitude is: 'Take a great solo, take a bad solo, but just solo'. Something is wrong with that for me".

    GP: "How would you describe what you do? You don't solo very much, yet your work goes way beyond a mere supportive capacity".
    AJ: "I try to bring as much intensity as I can to whatever role I'm playing. Steve Gadd can play an entire night without a solo & still be the center of attention...which shows that's it's the quality of performance that counts the most, not the role of the performance".

    GP: "You're known for refusing to adopt trendy bass techniques such as popping & slapping. Has this stance resulted in lost work"?
    AJ: "There's no doubt I've experienced substantially reduced employment...I've been extremely fortunate in finding an original musical language on this instrument. That's not to say it's a completely mature language or a very effective one in all circumstances, but it's mine. And I have absolute faith in it, & I'm going to continue developing it along the lines I dictate".

    GP: "Have you ever used slapping & popping"?
    AJ: "I've done it on a couple of recording sessions & a soundtrack, where I was spesifically asked to use it in a way that was designed to contribute, as opposed to following a producer's instructions along the lines of, 'What will we have the bass do? I know, let's have him do that slap stuff they all play'? It really means they don't know what to do, so they fall back on the familiar".

    GP: "Do you practice with your fingers & the pick equally"?
    AJ: "In the early days, about 70% fingers, 30% pick. Fingerstyle is more appropriate for most musical situations I find myself in...I'm an overall more superior player with the fingers".
    (He does say it was 50/50 when playing with Al DiMieola).

    GP: "What are your thoughts on the impact that Jaco has had on bassists"?
    AJ: "Since the '60s, the technical level has gone up considerably, yet experimentation & the quest to make a statement has been lost. Jaco was the last individual to come along who had something original to say. True to form, bass players jumped on his bandwagon..."

    GP: "Why does the bass suffer in this manner"?
    AJ: "It's still comparatively new. Lack of tradition leads to a lack of respect for study, & the instrument is very easy to play fairly well. Mastery, however, remains as difficult to achieve as any other instrument".
  6. Thanks for that JimK. I also just read his Bass Player interviews. His headstrong personality really comes through in his playing.
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    The Chaka Khan sessions are some of my favorite AJ cuts because he's doing what he does in a scenario where you'd hardly expect it.

    The work with Steve Khan is just beautiful. I think I'm starting to tear up :(
  8. hujo


    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    I have a record with Michael Urbaniak with Jackson playing on a few songs. His playing is pretty subtle, but of high class, still.
  9. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    wich record would you recomend Brad?

    I have some with Michel Petruciani and Al Dimeola, but I would like to hear is work with Chaka Khan.
  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    "What Cha' Gonna Do for Me" (the album) by Chaka has AJ working in a R&B/Pop vein with Steve Ferrone on drums.

    I'd suggest any of the trio stuff he did with Michel Camilo (with Dave Weckl on drums). The same goes for anything with Steve Khan. I just dig AJ's ensemble playing.

    His first big exposure AFAIK is "For the Love of Money" by the O'Jays. That was a landmark bassline. Some of the stuff he's worked on is pretty surprising for anyone not familiar with Madonna's debut LP;). He's done a lot of work with Paul Simon, too.

    more AJ stuff
  11. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Checked out your list, Brad; AJ with The Doobie Brothers?! When & where?! ;)

    That Chaka album I really that the one with "We Can Work It Out"? Killer version w/ a killer keyboard bass line.

    AJ with Steve Khan-
    IF you can find 'em"
    Casa Loco
    Blades (definitely OOP)
    Crossings...I really like this one.

    I'd also recommend Steely Dan's Gaucho album for "My Rival" & "Glamour Profession"...also Fagen's The NightFly for "IGY" & "Ruby Baby".
  12. Yvon

    Yvon Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    Thanks Brad. I will look for those album
    I always though it was Steeve Bailey with Madona. I won't listen to " like a virgin" the same way ;)

    And I thought it was Chuck Rainey on Gaucho...
  13. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Chuck Rainey may have played on a couple tracks; Becker also plays bass(I recall being a little let down 'cause Rainey was not the only bassist on that record; Rainey was all over the previous two Dan albums...what was it, like 8 years between Aja and Gaucho?!). ;)

    Jackson, AFAIK, only played on "Borderline" from Madonna's debut(my favorite Madonna video). ;)
  14. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    just picked up steve khan's crossings on cd today. great album. the only other a.j. stuff i have is the al dimeola albums and after hearing crossings im going to have to pick up some more with him on them
  15. Some of anthony jacksons most impressive playing i have heard is on al dimeolas "kiss my axe" disc.check out the title track-awesome!
    p e a c e
  16. I almost forgot. also check out al dimeolas
    "electric rendezvous". Anthony really tears it up on this one.
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    "Glamour Profession" and "My Rival"...two of my favorite SD songs.
  18. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    You confused Steve Bailey with Victor Bailey
  19. the mack

    the mack

    Mar 20, 2000
    i really love AJ on chaka khan's "naughty" favorate cut on the album is "clouds" it's an up-tempo cut...AJ really lets loose on it.
  20. I saw him in the mid '70's with Buddy Rich. He played a nasty solo with distortion and a Wa-Wa pedal. He was unbelievable!