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John Clayton

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by Andrew Jones, Nov 30, 2002.

  1. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    Ok I got a new hero, his name is John Clayton

    Ive allways known the name but He is here in Boston with Monty Alexander and Russell Malone suporting the new album with the late Ray Brown.

    Holy crap the man can PLAY Beautiful arco solos ,great time, melodic and bluesy solos.

    I now know what I want to be when I grow up

  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I agree wholeheartedly.
  3. twig


    Aug 5, 2001
    London UK
    I also agree

    He can also be found on the "Superbass" CD's with Ray Brown and C. McBride.

    One of the CD's I first listened to when I got into jazz was "The Duke Ellington Song Book" a duet with Monty Alexander and John Clayton.
  4. sean p

    sean p

    Mar 7, 2002
    eugene, oregon
    it's my understanding that jon was principal for the concertgebouw orchestra (amsterdam) a few years back. this with his jazz aptitude - talk about playing the bass! i got to attend a masterclass at the university of washington. he's a gentle, positive guy. stressed learning tunes by ear, not from books.

    sean p
  5. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    There's a recording of him and Monty Alexander doing Duke's "Love You Madly" that's one of my alltime favorites. Everything that I love about bass is contained somewhere in that track.
  6. Those of us who live in and around the Milwaukee area will have the opportunity to attend a clinic by John Clayton at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music. It's being held tomorrow (April 24, 2003) at 4:00 pm.

    I will be there and will post a full report hereabouts.
  7. Dondi


    May 3, 2003
    You can see and hear a study in time and taste by watching John Clayton play on the DVD "Live from Paris" by Diana Krall. It will be the best and least expensive master class you've ever attended. The playing is uniformly excellent and you'll be treated to John grooving with the great Jeff Hamilton on drums. Two real gentleman who can ballad and burn with equal facility.
  8. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    So, Mike, how was the clinic?
  9. I was introduced to John Clayton via the new Diana Krall Live in Paris DVD and have been mesmerized ever since! In AJ's words, now I know what I want to be when I grow up. I just want to check out some other recordings with him and the great Jeff Hamilton - that is one of the best tandems I've ever seen or heard!

    This quote makes tons of sense given his effortless technique on the DVD. FYI - his website references the Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, which (according to Google) appears to be different from the Concertgebouw. Still, that range of facility certainly is amazing!
  10. arnoldschnitzer

    arnoldschnitzer AES Fine Instruments

    Feb 16, 2002
    Brewster, NY, USA
    John stopped by our booth at ISB and played a couple of basses. His sound was HUGE!!! In 1975 or so, I was leaving a 2-week stint at Blues Alley in D.C. and John was coming in with Monty Alexander. When I heard him back then he was already fabulous, and I knew I'd better get a day job soon...
  11. Sorry I never got around to posting an account of Clayton's clinic.

    The audience was about half Milwaukee jazz musicians and half bass students, most about 19 or 20 years old.

    John started out by talking about his background, his lessons with Ray Brown, his experiences in the orchestral world.

    He worked with four students of varying skill levels, mostly showing them how to get a good jazz pizz tone from the instrument, some left hand stuff. Like most clinics, time was too short for him to work with all the students, and his comments had to be pretty general. But he is an extremely positive and warm guy, and he left these students (and me) with great incentive to shed.

    Unfortunately, he only played one tune with the Conservatory jazz piano and drum instructor. He made it a point to rearrange the stage setup. Rather than piano on the left, bass in the middle and drums on the right, he changed it so that the drums were on the left, the pianist on the right with his back up close to the drums and the bass sitting on the left hand of the pianist. John pointed out that you could hear much better, control dynamics better and have better sight lines. The instructors agreed.

    The Clayton Bros are going to be in Chicago first week of July, and I've already talked to John about the possibility of hooking up for a lesson. Hope it materializes.
  12. Did you know what equipemnet he used
  13. Nope. He didn't address that topic for some reason (I guess no one asked). He used one of the student's basses for his demonstrations. There was a particularly nice one he was going to choose, but the student told him that the strings were tuned-down solo strings, and he declined to use it. I know that he uses Thomastik Superflexibles on his own bass.
  14. Mike Goodbar said that John Clayton, "worked with four students of varying skill levels, mostly showing them how to get a good jazz pizz tone from the instrument, some left hand stuff." Mike, could you tell us what specifics John recommended for getting a good pizzicato sound with the right hand and any of his recommendations on left hand technique?
  15. No problem:

    For the right hand, John instructed the students to use the index finger to pluck the string, using as much of the "meat" of the finger as they could, telling them to think of pointing the finger down, rather than to the left. He warned against hooking the right thumb beneath the fingerboard, because it can decrease mobility. Rather, he said to place the thumb on the side of the board.

    He also told them to pluck the string as close the end of the fingerboard as possible to create a louder, more focused tone. (However, during his solo, it was fascinating to watch how he changed the location of his right hand to draw different colors out of the instrument.)

    For the left hand, he urged proper "classical" position ie curved fingers, thumb placed on the back of the neck at a point somewhere behind the middle finger. (He did admit that he is guilty of wrapping the thumb around, especially if he's hitting a low F pedal for 128 bars.) He said that string should be held very firmly against the fingerboard, and used the image of a "hammering" the string (he demonstrated this by playing an audible walking line sans right hand).

    John is a proponent of the "bass leaning into the body" camp of holding the instrument, rather than the "balanced bass" method advocated by Gary Kar et al. John demonstrated great facility moving from the neck position to the thumb position by stepping back with the right foot, increasing the angle of the bass against the body. He said that he is open to trying an angled endpin.

    Hope this fleshes thing out a bit.
  16. Mike Goodbar writes:

    I find that if you pluck the strings with the edge of the index, close to the second knuckle, you get a clear, focused sound. This is the right hand approach I often think Ray Brown was using, as well as some others, who play with such a huge, loud, resonating sound. However, my teacher does not feel that "edge of the index near the second knuckle" approach gives a "sweet, full" pizzicato sound. So I am wondering if John Clayton menttioned if, in that index pointing downwards approach, you need to pluck the string with the softer flesh of the bottom of the index (opposite the fingernail), rather than the edge of the index finger. (Maybe I'm being too picky here).
  17. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    More John Clayton:

  18. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Man, that was great. I love that guy. Thanks for the link.
  19. He's easily one of the best bowing jazz players, in my opinion of course, but he plays so clean that he's gonna be up there regardless. And man does that bass have some killer low end, when people talk about growl that's what they mean.

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