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Identifying Fortier's bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by Dr_Atomic, Apr 29, 2009.


  1. Hey bassists,
    Found this photo online from LIFE magazine.
    It is Anselme Fortier - the old principal of the NY Philharmonic.
    Anyone know what kind of bass he played?
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Gee, could it be Italian?
    Kidding. ;)
    Whatever it is, it's a good one. From that angle, I doubt that even Kenny Boy would venture a guess.
    Got any other pics? That photo angle is very popular with photogs when shooting a bassist playing, problem is that it makes the lower bouts seem much wider and the bass appears to be bigger than it is. The upper bouts are not visible and the scroll is entirely out of the shot. These, as you know, are important elements when trying to ID a bass.
    Good luck though.
    By the way...interesting side note. That's a cello end-pin. Back in our old days, before the advent of modern, high quality adjustable pins, we had to improvise. Most of us just had wooden dowels of different sizes in our bags...one of our own, and several other sizes to suit our students and to accommodate other bassists who would sit in on our basses. I remember other players who tried the cello pins.....problem was that they wouldn't adjust low enough for a short player.
    I'm not showing my age am I? :eek:
     
  3. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Look at those gut strings.
     
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    The thing you gotta be careful with is where the photo was taken; David Walter's article in DOUBLE BASSIST is a nice history of the day to day of orchestral musicians in NYC in that time period and (as he says in the article) guys had basses that they would leave in radio studios, in theatres, in performance halls so that they wouldn't have to cart stuff around from date to date - recording session to radio performance to concert etc.
     
  5. As you say, Ed...true dat.
    They (us?) got that down to a science though. When you'd get a call, all you had to do was check with other guys and find out who had a bass in what studio. You would know these basses pretty intimately, having played most of them in prior sessions. Some were set up for orchestral, jazz and even pop stuff. Team work at it's finest.
    There's a great shot of a studio bass on the cover of "Presenting Red Mitchell". It looks like a piece of ****. I asked Red about it once and he said it was a killer for big band stuff. He'd just gotten off a date with Sinatra when they shot the cover.
    Down side....no adjustable bridges.
    Up side....there was SO much work in those days that when you got dressed in the morning you had to plan on what you had to wear on an evening gig. In that shot, Red had on a white shirt dress shirt, dark suit pants, held up with suspenders, all ready for an evening gig after 8-10 hrs in the studios. That was in Hollywood, but the same held true, as you say, in NY and many other major cities.
     
  6. BCAlbin

    BCAlbin

    Dec 7, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Don't know the identity of the bass but Anselme Fortier was my teacher's teacher. Back in college, my DB teacher was Henry Loew, Principal bass with the St. Louis Symphony from something like 1946 to the mid-1990's. Mr. Loew used to tell me stories of how tough Fortier was as a teacher. Fortier's teacher was Edouard Nanny so guess which method I learned from? Great picture, thanks!...

    (btw, I think I recognize that bow grip...)

    -BCA
     
  7. Yes, he was my teacher's teacher, too! I studied with Homer Mensch from age 13 to 16, and he mentioned Fortier to me once or twice.

    I recognize that bow grip, too! Homer tried to get me to hold the bow that way; I am still sad that I studied with him when I was too young to really listen.
     
  8. BCAlbin

    BCAlbin

    Dec 7, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    From Carolyn White's (Associate Principal Bass, SLSO) bio:
    I don't recognize the instrument in the picture as being Mr. Loew's Gabrielli, but then again, it's been many years and...well...what do I know anyway? His was a 1763 (not 1750 as her bio states, this he told me himself) and I wasn't aware that it had gone to Ms. White after Mr. Loew's death. Nor was I aware that it previously belonged to Anselme Fortier. I do remember Mr. Loew telling me that, at some point in it's history, his Gabrielli had had it's shoulders cut down! I was under the impression that Gabrielli's were already small-ish instruments. Maybe that's how he got that beautiful, singing, cello-like tone he was always trying to foster in his student. But, then again, as Ed (and Paul) stated, it could have been any number of fine basses that were floating around NYC at that time. Could be the bass in the picture was just a bass Fortier happened to be playing at the moment the shutter snapped!? Unless Ken is suddenly resurrected, we may never know...

    -BCA

    edit: Doing a Google image search, I can find no photos of Ms. White, nor Mr. Loew, with the Gabrielli for comparisons sake. Someone else may have better luck than me...

    2nd edit: Another thing Mr. Loew told me about his Gabrielli was that it was appraised at $76,000! (That's 1990 dollars) Now that was probably it's insured value, "street" value was probably lower...but still...
     
  9. Another fabulous Gabrielli player? I wonder who..........
    Very small Gabrielli solo bass. Got them wacky dots on his FB.This guys looks a bit disheveled, sleeves rolled up, shirt hangin' out, cheap KMart shoes, likes his imported beer. Throws around his cheap, French bows a lot. (Sometimes, he'll try to break the bow's fall with a foot, but 9 outta 10 times he misses) Fun guy. Plays his ass off. I wonder.......

    BCA...thanks for the research.
    Being the bass whore that I am, I have to at least give a shot. Not being able to see the instrument very clear in the shot on the first view, the first name that I flashed on was Testore. When I lived in Aspen in the 60's I used to hang with Stuart Sankey and his boys a bit. Stu had a Testore with an ivory nut that reminds me of our mystery bass. There are pictures of Gary Karr playing this bass in an edition of the Simandl book which Stuart edited from about this period.
    Hey, really nice to be hanging around you classier bassists for a change. I'm usually with those tacky jazzers...so forgive my penchants for the absurd.
    AND Kirsten...I've been meaning to ask you to give my very best (which ain't saying a whole lot) to Rob Kassinger......another killer. An old friend from his Denver days. He once about blew the south wall outta my living room one day with that sound he gets. I didn't take kindly to that. Thanks.
     
  10. BCAlbin

    BCAlbin

    Dec 7, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Yeah Paul, I'd looked at a few pictures of Edgar's bass for similarities but don't know enough about that kind of stuff to draw any conclusions. If Mr. Loew's bass actually was a 1763 and Edgar's is a 1769, they ought to be fairly similar, right? But like you and others have said, with the angle of the Fortier pic, it's kinda hard to tell much. F-holes looked similar to my untrained eye, but...what do I know? One thing about Mr. Loew's Gabrielli, I don't remember it having nearly as many repaired cracks in the table as the bass in the Fortier picture appears to have. Whatever our "Fortier Mystery Bass" is, I bet I wouldn't mind having it standing in the corner of living room!

    -BCA
     
  11. BCAlbin

    BCAlbin

    Dec 7, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    Just because I had a good teacher for a few years in college, don't assume that any of the "classiness" took. I don't even qualify as a "tacky jazzer" anymore! These days days I probably fall more into the "lazy Country thumper" category...
    (or perhaps "over-educated Hillbilly" would be more apropos...)

    -BCA
     
  12. Cool! So I guess it's figured out then. Nice work guys :)

    Paul - Sure I'll tell Rob you said hi next time I see him. No problem.
     
  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I think the term you are looking for is "Hill William"...
     
  14. BCAlbin

    BCAlbin

    Dec 7, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    :D Hilarious!
     
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Hey, you know Jim Ferguson?
     
  16. If you don't, you should.
     
  17. BCAlbin

    BCAlbin

    Dec 7, 2007
    Nashville, TN
    I should and I do! Great guy. I just attended he and Toni's Gumbeaux Fest '09 a few weeks ago. Not only can the man play outstanding bass, fix basses, sing his butt off...he also makes a mean pot of Gumbo! Is there no end to his talent? Last time I had my fingerboard dressed, I took it to him...great work. Through doing my Gabrielli research yesterday I also found out that Jim does Edgar's setups!...Hmmm, maybe it's time to have him set my bass up too!

    -BCA
     
  18. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Gumbo is profound....
    Like gumbo.
     
  19. PETES45

    PETES45

    Mar 21, 2009
    Chicago
  20. Cool! Lucky her :)
     

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