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Fusion guys w/ great tone

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by BLU Dragon, Jun 21, 2002.

  1. Last weekend, I went to the Indy Jazz Festival. Got to see Aretha Franklin and other artists (which was great, of course). But the truth of the matter is that I really went to see Spyro Gyra. I've enjoyed listening to them for years and never made it to one of their live shows, before. (I even bought tickets to a Spyro Gyra concert once about 10 years ago, but it got rained out.)

    Anyway, I've always considered Scott Ambush to be a true Tone God of the Bass. I finally got to hear that sound live. I was a very happy guy. The Yellowjackets were also on the bill. I had been wanting to check them out for a long time. Lots of musician friends have told me, "Dude, if you like Spyro Gyra, you really ought to check out the Yellowjackets." Both are jazz fusion bands with excellent musicianship, of course. And, sure enough, I definitely liked what I heard from them, also. Unfortunately, due to rain problems, they only got to play a couple of songs. But it was enough for me to notice that Jimmy Haslip definitely has a pretty sweet bass tone goin' on, too. (He was playing an all SWR rig. It looked like a 750 through a couple of Goliath III's.)

    Anyway, I don't listen to a whole lot of jazz, but I can definitely say that I'm fond of the tone that some of the modern jazz and fusion players are getting out of their bass. It's not "my sound," mind you. I play mostly classic rock and blues, and lean toward vintage Fender basses and Ampeg amps, personally. Nevertheless, I really like what some of these jazz guys are doing. Do you have any recommendations of other jazz bass players that I need to check out -- guys who get a really awesome tone out of their bass? I should probably add that I prefer listening to the fingerstylists, and don't care too much for the Stanley Clark/Marcus Miller poppin' kind of thing.

  2. I like Matt Garrison's studio tone, which for the most part is his Fodera signature model straight into the board. He uses Epifani amplification these days.

    He's not really a fusion guy, but I like Bob Cranshaw's tone on Sonny Rollins' recent recordings. From inquiries here, the conclusion is that he's using either a Sadowsky or a Fender.
  3. So, who's he play with? Or is he a solo artist?
  4. He cut his teeth playing with John McLaughlin, and I think he might still be doing so. I've only heard his solo work.

    His fretless playing is amazing, FWIW, and a big inspiration to me. He certainly inherited his father's intonation.
  5. So, was he on those albums by the Mahavishnu Orchestra? I've got some of those. I'll have to check 'em out again.

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    For close to a year now Matt has been using Ashdown amps and he's currently touring with Herbie Hancock.
  7. I've been meaning to listen to some of John McLaughlin's acoustic work, too. Is this Matt Garrison doing bass work on those albums too? I do like the Mahavishnu Orchestra stuff I've heard, but wouldn't really want to listen to it a lot. (However, I think I do have "The Inner Mounting Flame" loaded in my CD changer in my truck at the moment. I'll definitely give it another spin when I drive over to Indy tomorrow -- and pay more attention to the bass work.)

    Any other recommendations?
  8. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Jimmy Haslip gets a great tone. Even when he's playing a solid body electric, he produces an organic, quasi-acoustic tone.

    Some of my other favorite tone guys are Victor Bailey (the ultimate Jazz fingerstyle tone!), Anthony Jackson, Steve Swallow, Gary Willis and Jimmy Johnson. I like Mark Egan too, but his tone is an acquired taste.
  9. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    At the moment I'm really diggin' Bakithi Kumalo.
  10. Cool. This is what I'm lookin' for, guys. Some of these guys you're talking about I've heard. (I agree that Mark Egan is something of "an aquired taste.) Some I'm familiar with by reputation only, from reading Bass Player, for example. But, I'm not necessarily familiar with their actual work. Some, like this Bakithi Kumalo, I've never even heard of.

    Any suggestions of particular recordings to check out? I've been buying more and more jazz disks, so I'm wanting to start systematically seeking some of the good stuff out.
  11. I'm not sure Matthew Garrison had even been born when the Mahavishnu Orchestra formed! :D

    The bassist on the classic Mahavishnu recordings is Rick Laird. He's sadly undersung, but in a group of ridiculous virtuosos someone had to be the anchor...
  12. Yeah. That doesn't surprise me. I'm going to be 42 next week, and still listen to a lot of stuff from the 70's. Consequently, I find that my sense of time has become distorted in some weird ways. For example, speaking of fusion bands, I still pretty much consider everything that came along after Weather Report to be a "new act." :D
  13. Yeah. My first and only exposure to the Yellowjackets was that show in Indy last weekend -- and I only got to hear two songs! But he pretty much blew me away with his tone during those two songs. Incidently, they had a brief article on him in the newest Bass Player. They said he's a lefty who plays a left-handed bass with the strings upside down! :eek: Un-be-lievable!

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    One Fusion bassist that had a beautiful tone and was very nice in his approach to the use of effects was Ralph Armstrong who played with Jean Luc Ponty.
  15. He also played with the edition of Mahavishnu in which Ponty had the violin chair. Armstrong was 17 or 18 at the time--when I was 17, I could barely get through punk songs! :eek:

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    you are so right.Ralph is back in Detroit teaching and just taking it easy.
  17. You see, there's something that I didn't know before. I wasn't aware that Jean Luc Ponty had ever played in Mahavishnu. I thought that they wanted him when the band was put together, but he was unavailable.
  18. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    FWIW(& IMO)-

    Garrison's tone is buried on the two Mahavishnu Orchestra '90s albums I'm familiar with(The Heart Of Things & the Live thing with the same band/line-up). That's too bad...

    Gary Willis' tone...I like. Same for Victor Bailey. Same for Randy Tico & Nico Assumpacao.
    For me, I suppose that's a "Jaco thing".

    "Modern" Fusioneers-
    Agreed, Haslip(though he goes back to the '70s, too). Another bassist that plays as Haslip does(lefty playing upside-down) is Keith Horne. He used to play in a Fusion band around these parts called Secrets. Scary good(I think he's been playing with Trisha Yearwood for awhile now).

    Patitucci's electric work is pretty "Modern" & clean.
    Same for Alain Caron, Brian Bromberg, & Gerald Veasley.

    Oteil Burbridge's tone on his solo disc...I like.

    Spyro Gyra has always had good sounding bassists-
    Jim Kurzdorfer(Music Man StingRay)
    Will Lee
    Kim Stone
    Oscar Cartaya

    Maybe a not so "Modern" tone can be found on Fima Ephron's solo disc(Soul Machine) PLUS his work with The Screaming Headless Torsos and The Hasidic New Wave(imagine a Miles' Bitches Brew era/Weather Report/Hendrix vibe doing Jewish Folk/melodies...that's the HNW). ;)

    JAUQO III-X Banned

    Jan 4, 2002
    Endorsing artist:see profile.
    Keith is no longer with Trisha Yearwood he left that gig in late march and he says theres talk of putting secrects back together.
  20. I appreciate all the great suggestions, gang!

    Are there specific recordings that these guys have played on that you would recommend?

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