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Question about Will Lee

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Zakmusic, Jul 18, 2012.

  1. Zakmusic


    Aug 1, 2010
    What in your opinion is great about Will Lee? People mention him as top notch. But as a session bassist he play rather meat and potatoes. What makes him so unique and what are some of his greatest work. Plz share some vids. I've seen his name appear on magazines n ads that make me curious.
  2. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Great sound, great time, great feel, great reading ability, great taste, and, from what I've heard, a very nice guy.

    Next question? :eyebrow:

  3. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    He's a professional in every letter of the word. He can read. He can sing (has done probably just as many singing sessions as on bass). Meat and Potatoes is what most folks want. Believe it or not, those 'flashy' guys don't play as much as you might think! Will has done the 'flashy' thing in the past. He toured with the Brecker Brothers ('nuff said)! He played on the last studio record by Metro (Chuck Loeb's fusion band).

    He's played for the CBS Orchestra (David Letterman) since 1982!

    As for examples, the internet is at your disposal. Google him.
  4. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    Although he's not a show boater, Will is a solid bassist and skilled musician. I don't see him as spectacular - but only because the only music I've ever seen/heard him play is cover stuff with the Late Night band. I'm not familiar with any of his other work, although he has a big resume. I think his being in the right place at the right time, concentrating his focus on working sessions in Manhattan, working a lot with Shaffer, and getting into the inner circle in that city has had a lot to do with his career and helped elevate him to the status he currently has. On another note, I've been wishing for a couple of decades that Late Night would take the microphone away from Paul Schaffer - he is a horrible singer and ruins what would otherwise be a solid instrumental cover.
  5. For this very reason. Continuing with the food anology, most artists don't hire bassists to play "haute cuisine," they want someone who can lay down a huge groove, play the right bassline for the song, and can do it quickly without too many mistakes. The top session guys (Neil Stubenhaus, Will Lee, Lee Sklar, Nathan East, and many others) are masters at this. They don't draw attention to themselves through their playing, instead, they make the artist they're working for sound their best.

    Will Lee has a pretty comprehensive discography on his website (www.willlee.com). Personally, I'm not familiar with too much stuff he's recorded recently, but I know he's recorded with a huge variety of rock, blues, jazz, and pop artists.
  6. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    Here's some of Uncle Will's best moments (to me anyway):

    He's like Michael Rhodes here in Nashville and hot sauce-he goes good with everything! Just one of those players (like Tony Levin and Nathan East) who can fit anywhere.
  7. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    Will is the epitome of what a great bassist is, he plays for the gig not his ego. He has been one of the top cats in N.Y.C for almost forty years, that's not from knowing people, that's from being creative and killing it on every gig for two generations.
  8. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out....

    Feb 6, 2010
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    I wish I had his mastery of reading and style! I am willing to bet that if it called for it, he could throw down as well. Whenever I get called for a session, i always think "What would Will Lee Do" when I am preparing for it.

    Now if I could just get as many session calls as him....
  9. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Exactly. And, he can SING, too. :scowl:
  10. Zakmusic


    Aug 1, 2010
    Does he have his own sound? the sound/style u recognize is will lee playing on the record. I bet it is less obvious as he plays for the song. But james jamerson's style is quite obvious for a session musician.
  11. MJT


    Feb 24, 2011
    Roanoke, VA
    ++++ on Will and this post. Back when I was really into what was then called "Jazz - Rock Fusion", Mr. Lee was all over my records.

    As John Lennon famously said to Tony Levin - don't play too many notes.
  12. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    In the Seventies, when he was using his P-bass with effects, I thought he was pretty distinct. I think his Sadowsky sound is less distinctive. He is a studio player, and he is not hired to sound super distinctive on every session.

    The man does have a ton of chops, just listen to the first Brecker Brothers album, however, Lee is not famous for being a chopmiester solo bassist. If that sort of playing is what you are looking for, Will Lee won't be your man.
  13. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    Will can kill it playing any style with any artist; and when the light comes on in the studio, he plays just as well as he does practicing in his bedroom. A lot of guys on the PGA tour can kill it during practice rounds and early in the week, but most of those guys choke like dogs if they get close to the lead on Sunday. Will, Marcus, Anthony Jackson, and the other studio heavy weights are very special players!
  14. Vinnyboonbots

    Vinnyboonbots Banned

    May 25, 2012
    Will is a solid player who was in the right place at the right time and had the right connections early on.

    He's the consummate pro -- good time, good sound, sings, reads, etc etc, but honestly, I don't think there's anything especially unique or creative or extraordinary about his playing.

    But he's there -- and when you're the guy who's known for getting the job done, people tend to call you. And when the big boys call you, you get regarded as one of the greats.

    Bottom line : there are thousands of guys who could do what Will Lee does and almost no one who could do what Jeff Berlin does. But Will Lee makes about eighty times more money playing the bass than Jeff Berlin. What does that tell you?
  15. deste


    Sep 14, 2009
    Bologna, Italy, Europe
    Endorsing Artist: GullanskyLab pickups
    We (the bassists) sometimes, especially when we're young, tend to search for the "voyant" style: slapping at the speed of light, flashy scales, thunderbolt sound.
    But... do we ever wonder what others (the non-bassists) ask?
    Solid time, solid sound, versatilty, musicianship. Simply this.
    At least if you intend being a respected session player.
    Will Lee does, and so he is one of the first class session players.
    Alog with the many listen above.
    Marcus Miller began his career as session player, and no doubt he still can be a really really good one (he's a musician, even before than a bassist), and sure Victor Wooten could, if he would.
    Think of Jerry Jemmott, George Porter Jr, the late Duck Dunn (just to name some of my favs): they never asked for spotlight, they just did their job. Just great bsession players, for the non-bassists: that's why they recorded and toured so much.
    Then, if you want slapping and scales and nothing more, there's a whole bunch of great soloists to listen to...
  16. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    I completely disagree, most guys would choke like dogs if they were in Will's position. You can't learn to have ice water in your veins, you have to be born with it.
  17. cycler


    Oct 6, 2010
    Nope. It's just bass. The most important thing being that he doesn't get in the way of the song.

  18. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    Regarding Jeff Berlin (I grew up listening to him and remember slaving over my cassette player learning Joe Frazier Round 2 as a kid), I think if he was a nicer guy, and had better tone, he would get any gig he wanted. I can't stand that overly compressed/chorused tone anymore. I think Jeff should raise his action a bit, get away from the super light strings and chorus and work on his tone. btw, I played his bass years ago at a clinic and the strings were literately sitting on the frets. You couldn't play the thing with any more than a tickle stroke! Roger Sadowsky, on the other hand, has stated that Will likes high action. Will has always had great tone too!
  19. Vinnyboonbots

    Vinnyboonbots Banned

    May 25, 2012
    It sounds like maybe you have an issue with nerves getting the best of you. But realize -- very few people get a big break from a single one shot huge opportunity. Most success comes from a series of events and the the right training and opportunities early on often decide one's destiny. Will had that.

    So yeah, you can be a mofo player but whom only played in bars in Ohio and then you have to audition for Chick Corea...well, you're probably going to choke. But there are also lots of guys who are under the gun in lots of situations who could handle the pressure -- but there are only so many opportunities. And few are presented to old pros who aren't well known.
  20. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006

    I don't have a particular problem with nerves, and this is not really about me anyway Freud :), but I have seen the nerve thing happen over and over again in all walks of like; I think sports is a particularly good example -- lots of talent out there, but very few great champions, which boils down to nerves.

    Here is a good mini documentary with Nathan East showcasing and describing great studio playing:

    btw, i think your fictitious Ohio studio great should read Will's biography. Will got opportunities because he was a great player and word spread around.

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