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Marc Johnson?

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by Tbeers, May 16, 2005.

  1. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Is anyone here really familiar with his playing? When I was in NYC this past weekend I went to see him play with John Abercrombie's quartet at Birdland. I thought he was pretty good, but his sound could have been better. It looked as though he had Spirocores on, with very low string height and was relying on a Full Circle pickup for almost all of his volume. In a small club like that, a microphone would have been more than adequate (especially since Joey Baron is the most amazingly sensitive and dynamic drummer I've ever heard). But Johnson's technique was superb, and his style of soloing was so minimalist and tasteful... he didn't show off at all, but it sounded so cool and relaxed.

    Anyway, I just thought I'd bring up another bassist that doesn't get mentioned a lot on these forums. Anyone have any more insight into his playing?
  2. Andy Allen

    Andy Allen "Working Bassist"

    Aug 31, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    In another of those crazy co-incidences we've just been discussing him in the "recordings" forum here: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=180054

    I'm really enjoying exploring his playing...I've heard his playing on recordings for years, often without knowing it, but only just started to listen to him.
  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Birdland is one of the bigger rooms in town :) They also have an AMT at the club, so I am surprised that he didn't use it.
  4. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    Talk about looooong notes. I just love his playing.

    Check him out on Stan Getz' Pure Getz.
  5. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Well I admit I don't know much about the size of Birdland relative to other rooms... only that it seemed pretty small to me.

    He was playing his DB through a full circle into some amp that I couldn't really tell, finally through a SWR cabinet that I think was a 2x10.

    One comment... his intonation was literally perfect. And he did this one trick during a solo where he played a harmonic and then made it move. I have no idea how he even did that, it was insane. Listening to him seriously put me back in my place lol.
  6. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Now I know how Paul Warburton feels...
    Yes, Marc Johnson is one of the a$$-kickin-est bassists of the last 25 years. Check out his debut as the (very young) last bassist in the Bill Evans trio, on the live "Turn Out The Stars" recordings (from the Village Vanguard). His tone is soooo 1980 (Fishman or Underwood going directly into whatever they were recording with at the club), but hey, it WAS 1980, and he indulges in a positively vulgar display of chops. To hear the beautiful acoustic sound actually coming from his bass (he does in fact have a great unamplified tone, and has worked professionally as a symphony orchestra bassist), check out his "2X4" recording of duets from 1989. And for his musicianship, head on over to any of the trio recordings with Abercrombie and Peter Erskine (although stay away if you don't like guitar synths--*shudder*).
    He also had something to do with that book "Concepts for Bass Soloing," published by Sher Publishing, which comes with a CD of Johnson basically practicing, and it's some seriously cool stuff.
    The thing I like most about his playing is that he chooses NOT to use his freakish chops (these days, at least) unless it serves the music. The stuff with Abercrombie or with the Charles Lloyd Quartet shows him in the role of a very supportive musical collaborator.
    Winoman likes this.
  7. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Oh yeah, the "movable harmonic:" play a false harmonic a la Jaco (press the note down fully with your left hand, use the thumb of the right hand to touch the point on the string where you want the harmonic to be, pluck the string with the index or second finger of the right hand, move the left hand as desired to make the sounding harmonic shift, and amaze your friends and neighbors [this is how Jaco played the melody on "Birdland," except he constantly re-attacked the notes, shifting his right hand, instead of sliding his left hand]); or, play the harmonic as you normally would and press on the string above the nut for desired effect (except this doesn't work as well on string bass as it does on a bass guitar, it seems).
  8. Tbeers


    Mar 27, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Thanks, I'll give that a shot. My drummer will pee his pants if I pull it off.. he almost wet his seat at Birdland lol.
  9. matador

    matador Guest

    Mar 31, 2005
    Check out the recording with Paul Motian, Bill, Frisell, and Joe Lovano. It is a tribute to Bill Evans. I am not sure what is called. Marc sounds nice.
  10. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Brooklyn, NY
    I was just going to mention that record. He gets a beautiful dark tone on that one.
  11. greg garrison

    greg garrison

    Apr 12, 2005
    Marc's right brain patrol albums are great too. "Sound of Summer Running" is a really cool, rootsy Marc Johnson album that came out in the late 90's on Verve, with Metheny, Frisell, Joey Baron. There's also a european released John Scofield live thing with Marc on it- only 3 songs, with Sco, Lovano, and Bill Stewart, but some AMAZING playing from Marc. Marc is also on Eliane Elias (sp?) recordings, as she is his wife. Also on more recent John Abercrombie recordings from ECM, with Lovano, Baron, Mark Feldman. Cool stuff.
    Had a recent brief conversation with Scofield about the many bassists he has played with, his eyes lit up when Marc was mentioned. Also had great things to say about Dennis Irwin, an unsung hero in my opinion. Mentioned an album recorded for ECM with Marc Johnson, Lovano, Bill Stewart and himself- can't wait to hear that.
    That's what i know about Marc Johnson. He's one of the heaviest in my opinion.
  12. I have so many cd's with Marc Johnson, if I see one with him on I buy it. Check out his albums with Enrico Pieranunzi, who is an amazing musician also. Marc Johnson at his best.
  13. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    actually. . .

    Eliane Elias is actually married to Randy Brecker, but Marc Johnson plays on her records. He is a fantastic bassist! I like his playing on Lyle Mays "Fictionary" as well as the records mentioned.

  14. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    I think that may be old info. Last I heard, she split up with the trumpet guy and upgraded to the bass player.
    DrayMiles likes this.
  15. dex68

    dex68 Guest

    May 5, 2005
    I love Mark Johnson. Even though I usually need more "pull" from a bass player, I have to make an exception for him. He's just so damn good at what he does. Let other players be swinging! Has anyone checked out his "Solo Concepts" book? Nice ideas there for avoiding patterns in soloing. Also, his playing on the recording is fantastic.
  16. Andy Allen

    Andy Allen "Working Bassist"

    Aug 31, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    It was mentioned in the parallel thread I posted above, and I just bought it
    (here: http://www.bassbooks.com/shopping/shopexd.asp?id=265 ).

    Neat stuff, with many new and original concepts that I would not have stumbled onto for myself. Much of it is pretty daunting at this stage, though. The CDs are worth listening to on their own, too...perhaps if I play them to myself while I sleep I can gain some skills subliminally :p
  17. dex68

    dex68 Guest

    May 5, 2005
    I think stuff like this is not to be copied , per se. One doesn't need Mark's facility to gain something from his book. For me, it helped to get some ideas on approaching various aspects, for instance I like listening to his ways of using simple chord tones, and then adding extentions, etc. Anyway, it's always better to focus on the material that seems relevent to one's own playing. IOW, little snap shots, not the whole book.
  18. 5150


    Jun 8, 2005
    New York City, NY
    You know, I really don't care for Marc's swing feel at all, but that's just me. YMMV.
  19. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    And you're certainly entitled to your opinion. :)

    Troll droppings cleaned up, thread open for business.
  20. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    i wonder if that guy played with who he claimed to play with? i got the impression he was a drummer who had his opinion on what kind of bass players he liked to play with, but had no idea about the history of the bass and no respect for some of the masters, or i can be giving him too much credit...

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