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Barre Phillips

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by damonsmith, Nov 4, 2006.

  1. The Parker thread moved into talking about Barre, of course one of the most important musicians to ever pick up a bass. He should have his own thread.
    Here is a short youttube:

    I wrote the below for an ISB issue:

    Life as a Double Bass Improvisor in the Post-Barre Phillips world.

    When Barre made the happy accident that became the first improvised bass solo lp it was totally ground breaking. the idea to play solo was still very fresh, and I imagine intimidating. In my time period it is expected that as an Improvisor you will play solo.
    Barre's music is still at the cutting edge after all these years, he is still playing with the most advanced musicians. It is some of the most expansive generous and virtuostic music possible. He brings out beauty in the harshest sounds, gives equal focus to all the pitches and timbres the instrument offers. Most importantly, like only the greatest artists, Barre's innovations also point to things possible beyond his own work, Opening many doors for the rest of us.
    Every time I pick my bass, and every time I go on stage, I walk through one of the doors he opened.
    damon smith
  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    One time, after playing with pianist Art Lande, he commented to me that my harmonic approach "reminded him of Dave Holland and Barre Phillips". I was too flabbergasted to even respond, and of course whatever I was doing was purely accidental, and Art was being the very kind gentleman that he is, but... boy, talk about "the afterglow". I just wish I knew what I was doing that day, because to mention me in that company is just ludicrous.

    Damon, thanks for putting some focus on this great musician.
  3. oliebrice


    Apr 7, 2003
    Hastings, UK
    Barre Phillips was one of the bassists who first made me want to play DB. His playing on those early albums with John Surman is just incredible (check out 'The Trio' and 'Mountainscapes'). Theres a great 4 bass and drums album as well. And a great duo with Dave Holland.
    Oh yeah, the stuff with Archie Shepp is great too...
  4. I got the Live in Vienna DVD at Amoeba records last night. Beautiful playing, he is playing a 4 string and he normally plays a 5.
  5. Scroller


    Jul 16, 2005
    I'll never forget when I first became addicted to his playing. When I first started playing DB about 10 years ago, I was buying CD's voraciously. I was checking out everybody who I "should" be listening to: Ray Brown, Mingus, LaFaro, tons of classical, etc. Then I came across the heading "Barre Phillips" in The Penguin Guide to Jazz and I thought he sounded interesting. My local record store had a CD by him called "Camouflage" so I snapped it up and was I ever glad I did! After a few minutes of listening I thought, "Who the heck is this guy!!!??! The Hendrix of Double Bass!!?!" Ever since then I've been hunting down his recordings and man does he have a ton of GREAT ones. A few of my favorites are:

    Figuring (w/Derek Bailey)
    Call Me When You Get There
    The Trio
    Journal Violone 9
    Arcus (w/Barry Guy)

    And yeah, I can't stop watching that DVD. His tone and his musical ideas are astonishing. I really hope I get the chance to see him live one day. Does anybody know if he ever comes over to the states to perform???
  6. He does make it here, he is from Berkeley. I did a workshop wiht him once. He was great.

    A couple other good ones are his trio with Evan Paker and Paul Bley "Time Will Tell" and "Sankt Gerold" both on ECM, His trio with Gerog Graewe and Peter Van Bergen "Other Songs"
    And yet another with Urs leimgruber and Jauques Demierre, "Wingvane" and "LPD - Cologne"
    All 5 are reeds/bass/piano. Barre was in a later version of the innovative Jimmy Guiffre trio, which pioneered that instrumentation.
  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Well, that was interesting :eek:

    I always have trouble judging performances like that...it did nothing for me but I saw Barre a few years back playing with Joe Maneri (also free improv) and it was an incredible performance.

    Hard to tell with the lighting but it looks like that's an aluminum bodied bass? It's not wood...
  8. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Did they ever record? I've become quite the Guiffre fan and own many of his recordings but nothing with Barre.
  9. dperrott


    Oct 3, 2005
    The bass is probably made from carbon fiber. I know a few years ago he was interested in those basses..
  10. Scroller


    Jul 16, 2005

    If you ever find out when he will be returning, by all means please post the info here. I am located in southern California and believe me, I would be more than happy to do a long drive to check him out...
  11. In gerneral "performances like that" are not concerned with "doing something for you".
  12. emayric


    Nov 19, 2006

    I can confirm that Barre is here playing a COSI Carbon Fiber bass, made by the french luthier J.C. Lagarde. His website is http://www.cosi-lagarde.com ;)
  13. mrpc

    mrpc Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    The anguish of enforced assemblage, that's what i felt there.
  14. Yes, there is cd, I have not seen it, but it has Barre and Don Friedman.
    Should be good. It may be a Guiffre compilation.
  15. mrpc

    mrpc Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Well, I've listened to a little bit of Barre over the years, but I must say that the youtube clip pretty much gets the message of his music across clearly. Great musician, capable of expressing the human condition with his instrument, in a truthful manner.
  16. Eric Hochberg

    Eric Hochberg

    Jul 7, 2004
  17. Thanks for posting, that was great! Classic Dollar Brand, Gato, and Barre. I hadn't heard that John Tchicai passed. What a shame, he always sounds great. He is featured particularly well on several of Johnny Dyani's Steeplechase records, "Angolian Cry" comes to mind first. I need to familiarize myself with his stuff as a leader.
  18. I saw Barre play solo once in a small art gallery in NY. It must have been in the early 80s. After playing uninterrupted for about an hour, he took a break and was hanging out. My friend approached him and asked excitedly whether what we had just heard involved any compositions or not.

    Barre just shrugged and said "Hey, man, you just play what you can play."

    For two young guys just starting to explore the music, that sentence was like a diamond bullet through the forehead. It became a touchstone for us that retains its potency to this day.
  19. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    I saw Barre and David Phillips in duet at Barb├ęs in Brooklyn one night a few years back (for those who've never been, it's a tiny room in back of a bar, and they had to turn off the AC to get rid of the white noise). They improvised for about 50 minutes straight before moving on to another shorter piece and it was some truly incredible, time-stopping stuff.
  20. Scroller


    Jul 16, 2005
    Lol. I just re-read my post from 6 yrs. ago! My "Hendrix-of-the-double-bass" comment may have been somewhat off the mark. ;) Still love Barre though, and I consider him one of the most interesting improvisors that I've ever heard. Needless to say, I snap up anything with his name on it!

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