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Bakithi Kumalo (Paul Simon's 'Graceland')

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by MUSHROOMSeAcOw, Jun 28, 2012.



    Aug 1, 2010
    I've been on a bit of a Paul Simon kick this week, and started to really listen to the awesome fretless playing on Graceland. Bakithi (and all of the fantastic South African players on that project) wrote some really great stuff. In particular, the grooving on 'Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes' has really captured me for some reason.

    The Classic Albums episode for Graceland really gave me a new appreciation for South African music in general. There's a lot of great music out there that we here in the states aren't really exposed to, and it's a shame. Props to Paul for trying to sample a little bit of that beauty for American audiences (although he struck me as a little condescending to some of the local musicians at some points).

    Not sure why I started a whole thread for this. Just wanted to point everyone to another underappreciated player, I guess...
  2. jumbodbassman

    jumbodbassman Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    Stuck in traffic -NY & CT
    Born Again Tubey
    bass on that album is top notch. as good as any pop album ever produced
  3. lhoward


    Apr 27, 2003
    Western NY State
    I'm not sure that he's under appreciated. I met him in 2004 at the Gerald Veasley bass camp held in Reading, PA, each year during the first weekend of the Berk's Jazz Festival, usually in March. A number of us were in a class he taught and one thing I recall clearly is that the style of bass players in South Africa is strongly influenced by their tribe. He said that each tribe has a unique rhythmic concept. I found that most interesting and have always recalled that clearly. There's a lot on the web about him. I do recall reading that he's been working pretty consistently with Paul Simon.

    Here's a link to a nice video he's done on his playing technique:

    And here's a couple pics from the classes he held at the 2004 GV bass camp. One was the small class, which was a more intimate learning environment, and the other was for the entire group with Gerald Veasley on the right side of the pic:


    Lloyd Howard


    Aug 1, 2010
    Great post, Lloyd. I would love to meet the guy; I need to get out and find some of these kind of workshops. And that video is killer! One guy in a big world, but something about his playing is standing out really powerfully to me.
  5. sevdog


    Mar 2, 2008
    Yup, and that whole album is just good. It's not the style that is usually my bag but good is good and it's good.
  6. Blu bro

    Blu bro

    Mar 1, 2012
    yep, If i was strandard on a desert island, with power and a cd player. This would be one of the ten albums i would want with me. Amazing bass playing and songwritting. So unique in the textures on this album.
  7. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    You know the "Call Me Al" solo is backwards backmasked whatever you call it to make them rocknroll devil words to come out
  8. "Diamonds on the Soles Of Her Shoes" easily makes it into my top 5 best bass tracks.. ever.
  9. lhoward


    Apr 27, 2003
    Western NY State
    Thanks. The dates for the next camp are posted for 2013:

    And here's the info for the schedule of this year's held in March:

    There are a lot of camps held during the Spring and Summer months. Steve Bailey and Victor Wooten still have their camps. I think Victor now has one in the Spring and in the Fall. I was never able to attend one of his camps due to having gigs scheduled, and I don't like to pass up gigs. But he was at the Gerald Veasley bass camp as a clinician in 2003 and 2004, the years I was there, and it was great.

    You can search for bass camps and music camps, and/or check the websites of the bassists you're interested in. I don't think Bakithi Kumalo has his own camp. I have a feeling he's busy enough. You can check the listing of previous instructors in the second link that might help the search process if you want to do that.

    Lloyd Howard
  10. jmela


    Jul 24, 2007
    There's a new documentary on the making of 'Graceland', called 'Under African Skies'.

    Kumalo says in the movie, "“I was just working as a mechanic,” says Kumalo, “and one day I got this call from the boss and he said, ‘Hey, Paul Simon is in town, you know, and he’s looking for some musicians.’ And I said, ‘Paul Simon, who is Paul Simon?’ I mean I had no idea. And then the guy tried to explain to me. He’s singing all the songs. You know, like the songs from Simon and Garfunkel. And I’m like, ‘It doesn’t ring a bell.’ And then I take my bass and I go to the studio and so I meet Paul and Roy Halee, the engineer, and they’re like ‘Hey, man, let’s, you know, let’s play some.’ We’d play a chord — Paul would smile ... and then he’ll stop and change it. We didn’t know why is he changing? But he needed another part there that we didn’t know. Then he’ll break and give us different chords, and then we learned different things, and it was like going back to music school.”

  11. lhoward


    Apr 27, 2003
    Western NY State
    Very nice, thanks for the post. I'm ordering the DVD package from Amazon as it has goodies not included their BluRay item.

    Lloyd Howard

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