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Feature Interview: Michael Dimin

Discussion in 'Features' started by TalkBass, Mar 23, 2004.


  1. TalkBass

    TalkBass News Poster

    Mar 12, 2004
    This feature was published on TalkBass.com in December, 2001

    Bassist extraordinaire Michael Dimin may not be a household name, save for us TB readers who regularly check into to his forum, but he may well be on his way to joining Stanley, Jaco, Marcus, Victor et al as such. Quick to dismiss his talents as nothing special, his amazing playing, sensitivity, compositional skills, and stunning chordal work belie his sincere modesty.
     
  2. TalkBass

    TalkBass News Poster

    Mar 12, 2004
    <div align="center"> <p><font size="6"><b>MICHAEL DIMIN: A CHORDAL APPROACH</b><b></b></font> </p> <p><b><i>Feature Interview for TalkBass.com by <a href="#max">Max Valentino</a></i></b></p> </div> <table width="100" border="0" align="left"> <tr> <td><img src="http://www.talkbass.com/images/dimin/dimin2_small.jpg" width="240" height="183"></td> </tr> <tr> <td> <div align="center"><font size="1">Photo by Julie Kerwood</font></div> </td> </tr> </table> <p>Bassist extraordinaire Michael Dimin may not be a household name, save for us TB readers who regularly check into to his forum, but he may well be on his way to joining Stanley, Jaco, Marcus, Victor et al as such. Quick to dismiss his talents as nothing special, his amazing playing, sensitivity, compositional skills, and stunning chordal work belie his sincere modesty.<br> </p> <p>Few players possess his skills and harmonic knowledge, as his solo chordal bass renditions of tunes such as "Autumn Leaves", "The Shadow Of Your Smile" and "Footprints" attest to. Above it all he is a supreme musician, with a singular unique voice on his instrument.<br> </p> <p> Author, teacher, clinician, performer, composer, recording artist…the man wears many hats. I recently spoke with Michael about his chordal techniques, his concepts of bass playing, his use of the Boomerang Phrase Sampler to accompany his solo performances, and his book, "A Chordal Approach. In the midst of the interview he dropped news of his upcoming solo CD, "Big Droppins", and his new role as a product specialist for Michael Tobias Designs (MTD).<br> <br> Information about Michael, his new CD, and future performances and clinics can be found at his website:<br> <a href="http://www.michaeldimin.com">www.michaeldimin.com.</a></p> <p><b>You are one of the leading proponents of chordal technique for the bass guitar. A teacher, author, and performer. I suppose the first question to ask would be, and I am sure you get this a lot: Why play chords on the bass? Why have you felt compelled to explore and develop these techniques?</b></p> <p>It started in 1979 as a challenge to myself, and progressed until I understood just how little I really new about music. Let me explain. I was a student at Berklee and had heard rumors of a Buffalo, NY area bassist who did a chord-melody solo version of "Misty". It was at a time when Jaco was really making waves and the possibilities for bass players were really opening up. I took it upon myself to create my own arrangement of "Misty." Through that process I realized that I really did not understand the subtleties of harmony and relationship between harmony, melody and bass line. Theoretically, I understood it well, and although I could hear it, I had never played it. Thus started the quest to learn more about harmony and its intimate relationship with the melody and bass line. I needed to play the harmony, experience the concept of voice leading as presented by JS Bach hundreds of years ago. I needed to know how the melody related to the harmony as well as how my bass lines did. I started creating chord melody solo arrangements of many jazz standards.</p> <p>I spent many years developing the technique and creating the arrangements. By this time I had moved to the mountains of Vermont. I had very little interest in playing or sharing what I was doing. It was total self-interest. Then I got the phone call that really changed my perspective. My mother had called to ask if I had heard that the "bass player I like so much" died. I could not believe that Jaco had died. I sat, on a damp, dirt floor in the basement of the North Adams, MA Public Library searching through 3 months of obituaries in the New York Times, until I found Jaco's. What I realized, was that not only had Jaco died but in that 3-month period many great artists, in all fields, who had shared their art with us, had also passed on. At that moment I knew, definitively, that I needed to perform and share my music again.</p> <p><b>Who are your influences, both as a bassist and a musician?</b></p> <p>I have many influences. Perhaps from a bassist's standpoint it would be Jaco. Jaco seems to get a lot of ridicule lately, too many comparisons to some of the players lighting it up today. But Jaco did something for us all that no one has done to date. He made the bass guitar a household word. He made it possible for us to perform solo or even to stand out front and take a solo. He opened so many doors for us; we can never repay that debt. If you read some of his quotes, he was hurt by the plethora of Jaco clones that were getting the work while he wasn't. I am no psychologist, but I do know that this could not have helped his emotional turmoil. Jaco was not only a great groove bassist and soloist, he was a wonderful composer and arranger. I remember a Joni Mitchell quote; when asked why she hired Jaco to play on a recording that was a tribute to Mingus, a great upright player, she said that if she wanted a bassist, she could hire anyone. She wanted a musician so she hired Jaco. That statement has driven me to be a musician. There are too many bass players, not enough musicians who play bass.</p> <p>Speaking of Mingus, he along with Bach and Bartok are also huge influences on me, especially as a composer. Scott LaFaro's sense of melody impacted me as well. When I was just starting out, listening to Stanley Clarke motivated me. I love Vic Wooten's work and am amazed and inspired by the work of Michael Manring. I also love the great groove players like Rocco Prestia, James Jamerson and Chuck Rainey. </p> <p>But the biggest influence had to have been my mother. She made sure that her kids were exposed to as much art as possible. Taking us to performances, museums, concerts, and plays and, of course, New York Mets games. I truly believe that a positive arts experience for kids creates both artist and more importantly audiences as they grow into adulthood.</p> <p><br> <b>Your playing style incorporates many complex voicings; extensions, inversions, and implied harmony, which extends beyond single notes or the occasional double-stop. Could you tell us how you developed this approach?</b></p> <p>It was out of necessity. When I started this, I knew, from harmony class, that it is the 3rd and 7th or guidetones that define the quality of a chord. I was arranging songs that had the key melody notes as a chord tone. This made the process relatively simple. I could voice 3 note chords: root, 3rd and 7th and create believable harmonies. I used the theories of reharmonization to spice up the harmony a bit. As long as key melody notes where chord tones, the arrangement worked. I then started to arrange songs that I wanted to arrange, that were not done because they fit my neat little formula. Tunes like Jaco's "Three Views of a Secret", which by the way is on my upcoming CD, "Big Droppins" (release date Jan 1, 2002). It was then imperative to outline the harmony, faithfully represent the melody and keep a moving bass line (to make the piece flow). I began experimenting with voicings. I tried not to stick to any rules except; "does this sound good?" The Boomerang has also really helped me to develop some of the "does this sound good" issues. I also know that our ears will fill in much that is missing if we can imply the rest. Using this knowledge has really helped. </p> <p>As an aside, I have been having a great deal of fun with one thread on my forum that asks whether or not 2 notes can be a chord. Obviously, by the rules of western musical theory the answer is no. But if I listened to the rules, I might be making a living playing Root-5 bass lines (not that it is necessarily bad to do that - it is just not where my heart lies). Play the 2 notes of a tritone (an augmented 4th) and resolve them inward to a major 3rd (for ex: play a B and an F double stop and resolve that to a C and E double stop), and tell me your ear does not hear G7 to C. It is all about psychoacoustics.</p> <p><br> <b>There must be many challenges, both physical and intellectual, to playing with a chordal approach. How have you overcome the obvious physical challenges of playing more than single notes or double stops?</b></p> <p>To be honest, I don't think it is that difficult. I do not posses the amazing technique of Vic or the large hands of Jaco. I am an everyday player. Intellectually, it is about thinking of the bass as a melodic and harmonic instrument. It is about learning all about functional harmony, voice leading, chord scales and melodic development. It is thinking outside the box. Most importantly, it is about developing the self-confidence and the mind set to be a soloist or to play in unusual and different combinations. It is knowing what the music needs and playing it. Andy Cichon, the great Australian Bassist (Shania Twain and Billy Joel) says the three rules of playing bass are "serve the song, serve the song, serve the song." If you are playing in a bass and trumpet duet, serving the song has a different meaning than playing in a Big Band. The physical challenges have been overcome in a purely technical sense. It is in the way I set up my basses.</p> <p><b>Do you have your basses set up in any special way? Do you find chordal bass playing demands any specialized equipment?</b></p> <p>My basses are set up with as little neck relief as possible and as low an action as possible. I use light gauge strings (.040 -. 100). I used to think that I needed a boutique bass to get my set up that precise. I do believe that many, if not most production basses would have difficulty with that kind of set-up. If the fretwork is not perfect, buzzes will predominate. I thought that, until I got my new MTD Heir 4 string. I have recently signed on with MTD as a product specialist/clinician. The bass is wonderful. It is made in Korea but Michael Tobias' specs and quality are evident. For example, the relief in the neck, at the 8th fret is less than 8/1000ths of an inch and the action is from 1/16th to 3/32nds of an inch at the 12th fret. This bass is very suited to the chordal work that I do. The only other "need" that I have is for a neck with 24 frets and complete access to the entire fretboard.</p> <p><b>Do you have any recommended exercises for developing the obvious, considerable hand strength necessary to perform "chordal bass"?</b></p> <p>With my basses set up so low, the strain on my hand is really minimal. In fact, I strive for the least amount of muscle involvement in my playing. This is a good lesson for all. Try to use the skeletal structure for most of the work and use the muscles for fine-tuning. This really takes considerable work on your technique, especially the fretting hand. Perhaps the exercise that I could recommend would be to seriously look into your fretting hand technique. It might also save you from some of the other afflictions we bassists suffer from such as Carpal Tunnel (caveat, I am not a Doctor nor purport to know anything!)</p> <table width="100" border="0" align="right"> <tr> <td><img src="http://www.talkbass.com/images/dimin/dimin_collective.jpg" width="252" height="155"></td> </tr> <tr> <td><font size="1">Dimin presents a masterclass at The Bass Collective in NY. Photo Courtesy of The Collective, Inc.</font></td> </tr> </table> <p><br> <b>Bass is usually considered, and its historical reference is, a monophonic instrument, and as such has been regulated to a rhythmic function and as a harmonic anchor. Have you felt challenges incorporating your chordal style into ensemble playing?</b></p> <p>Earlier, I quoted Andy Cichon. If we attempt to serve the song (and not ourselves), incorporating chords is not difficult. I often play with a blues/funk band. Sometimes we have keys and sometimes we don't. On the gigs with keys I rarely if ever play chords. On those gigs where there are no keys, I might outline a bit of harmony during the guitar solos, just to fill in the harmony.</p> <p>It is the bass and its historical reference as a monophonic instrument that keeps more players from expanding their role. It is also the expectations of our band mates and audiences that "keep us in our places". There are too few gigs where we can step out, so to say. Therefore it is important to pick our spots well. I recently received an email from the wonderfully talented (and fellow talk bass pro) Steve Lawson. He mentioned with pride and enthusiasm that he had 30 solo gigs last year. I had about the same. Sounds pretty tough to make living as a solo bassist, doesn't it?</p> <p><br> <b>Your book, "The Chordal Approach" has been personally a great inspiration, and has garnered several wonderful reviews. Could you tell us a little about how this book all came together?</b></p> <p>Well thanks for your kind words. I felt that by writing the book I could share the technique on a wider scope than just by gigging and recording. I could teach people to do it themselves. I think I am a natural teacher and that something inside me needs to get the information out. The initial version of the book was entitled "Standards for Solo Bass" and actually had some of the arrangements in it. It had some serious interest from Hal Leonard but at the final hour they balked. I also realized right from the start that is was a book that would appeal to a small niche. Considering that bass books are, in general, not great sellers, I decided to market it myself. The problem that I faced was trying to get license for the arrangements. Unless you have the muscle of a big publisher behind you or you want to call "Autumn Leaves" Brown Leaves Falling getting license is a very time consuming and expensive proposition. I took out the arrangements and rewrote the entire second half of the book. It took me two years to write the book, in it's final version with all the obstacles that needed to be surmounted. That was easy compared to marketing the book.</p> <p><b>One important point of the book is how you explain, in great detail, some practical knowledge of chord theory and reharmonization. Do you feel your study of chord-technique and theory has added to your capabilities as a musician?</b></p> <p>Absolutely. A bassist needs to have a good working knowledge of functional harmony. I used that term earlier and for those who are not aware of it, I'll try to give it a bit of explanation here. Functional harmony is the theory of how a particular chord or chord progression function within the tune. It allows us to determine tonal centers, decide on proper chord scales and proper chord extensions. It also gives us a common vocabulary to speak from in a musical or academic setting. If I ask you what scale you would play over an A-7 and you can answer me, your functional harmony needs work. It all depends on how that A-7 functions within the tune. Is it part of a II-V, a I minor, a III minor,…. There is a wonderful drummer that I work with often. He does some great work on my upcoming CD. We had a discussion about the Herbie Hancock tune Chameleon. He claimed that the chord progression (Bb-7 to Eb7) was a I minor to a IV chord. For starters the IV chord is not major in a natural minor key. It is obviously a II-V vamp in Ab. Play over it. Use the Bb blues scale or minor pentatonic that the melody outlines and then move to the key of Ab major. It is beautiful and melodic. It works. This is what functional harmony is about. For a great exercise try to analyze the chords and their functions in a tune like Goodbye Porkpie Hat. </p> <p>For me there is nothing more frustrating than trying to figure out what another player is talking about. Here's a funny story. Once or twice a year I play with a duo who have played together for 25 years. They have played with no one but each other except for those rare occasions where they need a back up band. They have developed their own terminology. The guitar player kept asking me for a "rolling" bass line. His expectation was that I would understand him. Trying to be as diplomatic as possible I asked him to play me an example of what he wanted. Looking back I should have figured out he wanted a quarter note walking line.</p> <p><b>Is "The Chordal Approach" widely available?</b></p> <p>Being that I felt that the book had a relatively small niche, it is not in too many stores. Some of the bigger stores will not work with independent publishers. It is too much accounting work for not enough product. Or as the head of one major chain told me, "I carry thousands of books, why the hell should I carry yours?" With that said, it is available worldwide at the click of a button. It is available at my site, www.michaeldimin.com as well as at www.bassbooks.com. I really like www.bassbooks.com; they have been very supportive of me and carry a great selection. If I am looking for a bass book it is always my first stop. "The Chordal Approach" is also available at a number of bass boutiques across the country. There is a list at my web site, but to name a few there is Bass Alone, Bass Northwest, LA Bass Exchange, New York Guitar and Bass Boutique, The Bass Collective pro Shop and more. I have sold the bass on every continent (except Antarctica). I have developed relationships with people from South America to New Zealand, Malaysia and Indonesia. One of the rewards of selling the book myself is that I get to "meet" the people who buy it. I can offer them my help and develop relationships. It has been a wonderful experience.</p> <p><b>Can we expect a follow up to "The Chordal Approach" anytime soon?</b></p> <p>I am halfway done with volume two. I REALLY want to include the arrangements this time. I have also added some arrangements for multiple basses or looped basses. The hold up will be getting the licenses needed for publication. Once the CD is out, I will begin working on it with a bit more vigor. I also have in mind to write a book for beginners. One that gets the new player playing songs, playing across the strings and developing their own lines right from the beginning. I would have to find a publisher for this one though. I know how to reach bassists who already are into the instrument. Trying to reach new players is a challenge best left up to the pros. </p> <p>Finally, I have decided to write a book on alternative music education. A few days a week I teach a program to at-risk girls in a residential school/treatment facility. For these students, the standard school music ed program just doesn't cut it. While in production of my CD, I really wanted Paul McCandless to record on some tunes. Through my contacts with him, I became friendly with his wife who runs a similar program on the West Coast. She is also an Electric Bassist. We do the same thing but come to it from a very different angle. We've been able to share many ideas.</p> <p></p>
     
  3. TalkBass

    TalkBass News Poster

    Mar 12, 2004
    <p><b>There seems to be a small but growing "movement" of what might only be termed as "solo bass", a movement obviously near and dear to me. You are often times referred to as a leading voice in this movement; a player out to "spread the word of bass and it's possibilities". Could you tell us what challenges, merits and rewards you find in solo bass playing?</b></p> <p>Once a month I play at this wonderful restaurant in Albany, NY called Stephanie's. Stephanie is a wonderful chef and a graduate of the high school of performing arts (remember "Fame"). It is also the Bela Fleck's alma mater. She had no qualms about hiring a solo bassist. Many evenings, customers will approach me and tell me how much they enjoy the music, and only then realize, much to their surprise, that I am playing bass. The music has transcended the instrument. The audience likes the music for what it is, not that "it is good, for a bassist." This is what it is all about for me. Ultimately it is about the music.</p> <p>The other wonderful thing about having the ability to perform solo is that it lends well to my new role as a product specialist for MTD. I can travel around to dealers and perform for their customers, explain the virtues of the MTD instruments and keep an audience interested. I could not imagine doing it just playing single line bass lines for 60-90 minutes</p> <p>There are some challenges, I still get booking agents and club owners who exclaim, "you play solo what??" with a chuckle in the background. Obviously I never hear from them again. I think the biggest challenge that face us who perform solo bass is the preconceptions of the musicians we work with. Chuck Rainey told me recently that producers still ask him if he "plays Fender Bass." A reference to long ago when Fender was the only bass and producers used the term to mean electric bass (got a Kleenex?).</p> <p><b>Playing chordally, playing solo bass….do you ever get questioned, "why play all that on the Bass?"<br> Does it ever frustrate you to be accused of being "a frustrated guitarist" simply because you do not see the boundaries, the limitations, of the instrument?</b></p> <p>No one has said that to me, at least to my face. I usually get a really nice response, once they hear what I do. I think that if I were a guitarist I would be frustrated.</p> <p><b>You are also one of the growing legions of bassists using looping devices. Could you tell us about the Boomerang?</b></p> <p>The Boomerang is absolutely the best tool that I have ever owned for both practice and performance. The 'rang has up to 4 minutes of looping capabilities. It can generate two separate loops for a verse and a chorus. Unlike other loopers, the 'rang adds each successive loop. The benefit to this is that your loop time does not diminish. The drawback is that you are stuck with any mistakes that you make. I feel that the 'rang is definitely a live tool. The sampling rate is not quite high enough for studio application. The other benefit or drawback of the 'rang (depending on how you look at it) is that you cannot store loops. Once you hit the record button or turn it off, anything in the memory is gone. There is no way to pre-record loops for live performance. I have had some people say that I "cheat" using the 'rang, until they realize that each loop is created in real time during the performance. Boomerang's website is www.boomerangmusic.com; there is also a great deal of looper information at www.loopers-delight.com.</p> <p> <b>How do you incorporate looping into your performances?</b></p> <p>I use it in a bit more traditional way than Steve Lawson does. Steve creates these wonderful textures and ambient soundscapes. I use it to create bass lines, harmony, harmony lines, etc. Let me give you an example. Take a tune like "Footprints" which is on my CD, "Big Droppins". The first layer is the bass line. In this case I did it up-tempo with a bit of a Latin flavor. The next loop is the harmony. I layer it on top of the bas line. That now frees me up to play the melody and solo over the changes. Live, I do a looped arrangement of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition". In that piece I set up 4 loops and for the foundation of the melody. I also set up a loop for the verse and one for the refrain. During the verse, the first loop is a slapped bass line. I follow this with a little funky double stop harmony, to round out the chord qualities. Next, I'll add in Stevie's funky Clavinet part. The last loop is the little guitar line that begins on the "and" of beat 2. I really have to work hard to spread those voice far enough to lend clarity and definition to the piece. In fact, the little double stop harmony is played at the 24th fret.</p> <p><br> <b>To me, the bass, with its wide dynamic and frequency range, and its potential for expression, is the perfect looping tool, as well as an ideal solo instrument. Are you surprised that more bassists have not taken to looping?</b></p> <p>Not really, many of us are content playing the role of support. I think that is cool, for ultimately those are the players who really strive to "serve the song". They also get the most work. It is also a fact that we don't often enough, in a working situation, get enough chance to stretch our chops. We have little reason to invest in a looper to develop our soloing skills (as I mentioned earlier - it is a great practice tool) or for live performance. </p> <p>Although I am not surprised, I would say that I believe those who don't own some sort of looper are really missing out on a world of educational and performance opportunities.</p> <p><b>One last looping question….as a teacher do you find the Boomerang a useful tool?</b></p> <p>It is absolutely a wonderful thing in the class situation. It allows me to demonstrate how a particular bass line or lines fit over the song. It is like practicing with a band. I also find that my students who have bought loopers are progressing further, at least in their melodic concepts (sometimes they don't work on the groove stuff quite enough when they are playing with the looper).</p> <p>Using the looper is also a great benefit working as a Product Specialist of MTD Basses. For demonstration purposes, I can set up a loop, allow it to play as I explain the concepts. Immediately, I can then incorporate the new concept and the point is driven home. It is instantaneous feedback for the listener.</p> <p>As teachers, we must recognize that students today are used to immediate success and instant access to information. The traditional music pedagogy just doesn't work. I look through the books I studied with as a kid and know that kids today don't have the patience or discipline to wait for greatness. We need to recognize this through the tools we use.</p> <p><b>You have a new CD coming out? I understand it is not a "solo" album per se, but rather an album which features you as a leader?</b></p> <table width="100" border="0" align="left"> <tr> <td><a href="http://www.michaeldimin.com/estore.htm"><img src="http://www.talkbass.com/images/dimin/droppins.jpg" width="200" height="174" border="0"></a></td> </tr> <tr> <td><font size="1">Dimin's new CD, "Big Droppins" is now available. Click the image to order from michaeldimin.com!</font></td> </tr> </table> <p>It started out as a solo record. By this I mean just bass. If I used any multi-tracking it would be looped live. I'd like to make a point here. I think many of the bass magazines talk about artists making solo records that are really the bass artist as a leader. It makes a record like Steve Lawson's, "Nothing But The Bass" all the more important. As I was saying, I started out this way, but I wanted to work with some friends, my musical "family" so to speak. It kind of blossomed from there. I was able to work with some of my great friends. Perhaps the best part, however, is that I decided to include 2 pieces that I wrote a number of years ago. They were very ECM oriented and called for acoustic piano and soprano sax. I originally wrote the pieces with the vision of Paul McCandless playing the soprano or English horn. I mentioned to a former band mate how much I would like to have Paul on the record, she gave me some sage advise, "Ask him!".</p> <p>I was able to contact him through a mutual friend, Michael Manring. To my delight he said yes. Paul has made a good record, great (IMHO). As an added benefit I was able to create a professional relationship with Paul's wife. Robin is not only an electric bass player but she teaches music to troubled youths in a residential facility as I do. It has been great to be able to share notes, techniques and ideas with her. </p> <p><b>Do you do any solo pieces on the new CD?</b></p> <p>There are 2 purely solo pieces, Autumn Leaves and The Shadow of Your Smile, performed in a chord-melody style. I performed Jaco's "Three Views of a Secret" in the chord-melody style, as a duet with Congas. Although I usually perform this solo, I thought performing that tune with Conga was a tribute to Jaco's memory. Jaco's version of "Donna Lee" as a duet with Congas was my inspiration. There are some solo, looped bass tunes as well as looped bass with ensemble. Finally there were the two ensemble pieces mentioned above, with Paul McCandless, where I was able to get out my fretless.</p> <p><b>What else does the New Year hold in store for you? You teach quite a bit, including seminars, clinics and master classes. Anything planned for the near future?</b></p> <p>I will be actively marketing the CD while trying to write books. I also have some ideas for a new recording using bass and vocals. A kind of beat poetry and bass duet using all the techniques and technology of today.</p> <p>I will continue booking solo shows. I have recently found some cool places that might dig what I am doing. </p> <p>Most importantly I will be working with Michael Tobias on the promotion of his Heir and Kingston Basses. I have also played a prototype of a new possible import and I am extremely impressed. I hope to develop a busy schedule with him to augment and support my other solo endeavors. I will also be waiting for my new MTD 435. Michael has promised that it will be a "stunning" bass. I was looking at some wood for the top a few weeks ago. I will post pics on talkbass when it is done. </p> <p>I will also be teaching for a week at the National Summer Guitar Workshop in Connecticut from July 28th through August 3rd. For those who don't know about the workshop, it is 1 week of music boot camp. You have an instrument in your hand from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. Although there are mostly guitarists attending, there are also some great drummer and bassists attending and teaching. Bassists usually have their pick of ensembles because of the pure numbers. It is a wonderful workshop. More info is at www.guitarworkshop.com.</p> <p><b>What have you been listening to of late?</b></p> <p>My listening changes on a daily basis. In terms of bassists, I have been listening to a lot of Jaco lately. It seems to come in waves for me. Recently I have had a new appreciation for Vic Wooten's second recording, "What Did He Say", anything by Michael Manring and Colin Hodgkinson's CD.</p> <p>My listening tastes run from straight-ahead and cool jazz to R&B and funk. I love listening to all the old ECM stuff, Eberhard Webber, old Pat Metheny (with Jaco and/or Mark Egan). I can get lost listening to Etta James. Chuck Rainey might have laid down the absolute perfect bass line in Etta James' tune "You Give Me What I Want." I also like anybody who is doing anything innovative. My school students often bring in their stuff, although most of it is preprogrammed crap. Some of it is pretty cool, like Linkin Park. I also like listening to my CD. It is weird because with all the hours that I spent with tunes, from their inception to the recording and mixing, I thought I would be really tired of them by now. And yet, nothing could be further from the truth. I just enjoy listening to it.</p> <p><b><br> </b></p> <table width="100" border="0" align="left"> <tr> <td><img src="http://www.talkbass.com/images/dimin/dimin1_small.jpg" width="220" height="250"></td> </tr> <tr> <td> <div align="center"><font size="1">Photo by Julie Kerwood</font></div> </td> </tr> </table> <p><b>Final question: any words of advice to the TalkBass readers?</b></p> <p>Embrace all things musical. Be a musician not a bassist. I'll leave you the 5 rules of being a musician:</p> <p>1. Be on time<br> 2. Be prepared to play, physically and mentally<br> 3. Honor your commitments<br> 4. From Andy Cichon, "serve the song"<br> 5. From Chuck Rainey, "be cool!" </p> <br> <br> <br> <br> <hr> <p><a name="max"></a><b>TalkBass writer Max Valentino</b> is a full-time solo bassist and session player in Southern California. This summer he was part of the historic Solo Bass Looping Tour with Michael Manring, Steve Lawson and Rick Walker which was <a href="http://www.talkbass.com/articles/articleview.php?ID=14">chronicled here</a> at Talkbass.com. He has just finished his first solo bass CD, "A Carvan Of Dreams", which is now available.. He is currently working a method book for chordal theory on the bass guitar. You can write to him at: <a href="mailto:Ekstasis1@hotmail.com">Ekstasis1@hotmail.com</a></p><hr> <p>Editor's Notes:</p> <p>Got a question that's not answered in the interview? Post your question to Dimin's interactive <a href="http://www.talkbass.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=46">"Ask the Pros" forum</a> right here on TalkBass to chat with the man himself!</p> <p>Visit Michael Dimin's website for more information, plus ordering info for his new CD <i>Big Droppins</i> & his book, <i>A Chordal Approach</i>. <a href="http://www.michaeldimin.com">WWW.MICHAELDIMIN.COM</a></p> <p><br> </p>