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Ralph Armstrong

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Monkey, Jan 9, 2001.

  1. Monkey

    Monkey Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Ohio, USA
    Have any of you out there heard Ralph Armstrong? I love his playing on Mahavishnu Orchestra's "Visions of the Emerald Beyond" and Jean-Luc Ponty's "Live". I hadn't listened to him in years, and I came across an article on him in Bass Player, so I dragged out some vinyl. Great fretless playing. I don't listen to fusion-type stuff much anymore, but I really like his tone and style.
  2. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...what I remember about Ralphe Armstrong was-
    a)He was very, very young & playing WITH McLaughlin!
    b)He played a Fender Jazz w/ a Precision fretless neck.
  3. Ralphe has always been one of my favorite players, his use of effects has also been an influence. He is the main reason I have so many JLP albums and now CDs and saw him in concert several times back in the day.
    Have you heard his acoustic playing with the Earl Klugh Trio?
  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...oh, yeah-
    c)He also used a Maestro Brass Master effect(kinda gave a trombone-ish sound).
  5. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    Berkeley, CA
    Ralphe also did some amazing work with Eddie Harris...check out his fretless solo on "There Was A Time" from the 'Eddie Who?' album...passion, power, precision, the man's got it all. There was a feature on him in Bass Player a few years ago, and he said that the reason he kinda disappeared from the scene for a while was because he wanted to be around for his kids while they were growing up, so he only did local stuff. Sounds like a righteous dude!
  6. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    You should check out some of Ralph's work on the "Apocalypse" Album/CD also by the Mahavishnu Orchestra.

  7. Vynns

    Vynns Guest

    May 5, 2008
    Arise, thread, arise!

    Anyhoo, I just found this Armstrong guy, ont Jean-luc Ponty's Enigmatic Ocean. Anyone know what gear he was using @ the time?

    (See how I used an "@" in lieu of the word "at", thereby saving myself one letter to type? I am a god of practicality.)
  8. funkboy5

    funkboy5 19mm + 35" = :-) Bass'd on a true story

    Jan 4, 2008
    San Antonio, TX
    Ralphe Armstrong is a badd dude. Saw him in concert in 77" at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, NY. That was right after the "Enigmatic Ocean" album came out. My favorite Jean Luc Ponty album. If you get a chance check it out. Ralphe kills. Also includes Allan Holdsworth and Daryl Struemer on guitars, Warren Zavod on keys. I can't remember who was on drums but he also blows the doors off with some serious soloing by Holdsworth. Ralphe also takes a nice funky distorted bass solo during one tune.
    gebass6 likes this.
  9. funkboy5

    funkboy5 19mm + 35" = :-) Bass'd on a true story

    Jan 4, 2008
    San Antonio, TX

    I believe he was using a Gibson Ripper 4 string bass in natural w/ black pickguard. I saw him in concert in 77'. Enigmatic Ocean is my favorite Ponty album.
  10. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Oh, man! I almost started a new Ralphe Armstrong thread just the other day...

    Speaking of Ralphe's work with Jean Luc Ponty, check out the Cosmic Messenger album (my personal favorite). Both his bassline and his solo on Egocentric Molecules absolutely cook - a true fusion classic! :cool:

    (Solo starts at about 1:51)

    gebass6 likes this.
  11. Ralphe has an endorsement deal with Gibson and plays the Ripper very often. I don't think I've seen him w/o it.

    I've read that he beat Jaco out for the Mahavishnu gig. When Jaco heard Ralphe playing the fretless, Jaco decided to tear the frets off his own.

    Ralphe's dad was a well known jazz fiddle guy called Louie-Bluie.

    If you haven't hear Ralphe walk the bass straight-ahead live, you haven't lived. The cat swings harder than anyone I've ever heard. I cried when I hear him play Stormy Monday.

    I think he played with Zappa (Ponty) and Santana (plus my favorate guitarist Kenny Burrell).

    Innovator/originator of fusion frettless bass and hardest swinging cat in the world. And most people don't even know who he is!
  12. Vynns

    Vynns Guest

    May 5, 2008
    Frikkin' awesome tune man! I'll have to check that album out!

    Tnx man. But a ripper? Really? Didn't expect that; I thought those were only played by punkrocktypes, swung low, pick, ripped jeans, you know? I never thought much of this bass. Maybe I'll have to check it out. They were discontinued a long time ago, right?
  13. jerry

    jerry Doesn't know BDO Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 1999
    There is some great footage of a young Armstrong with Mahavishnu on a DVD that was released last year. I'm sure it's also on youtube somewhere too.
  14. Otso


    Mar 6, 2006
    His playing on that album is phenomenal, especially on "Hymn to Him" his basslines just make my brain melt.
  15. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    Steve Smith(Journey) was the drummer on Enigmatic ocean

  16. GtenderG


    Feb 29, 2008
    Got to see Ralph Armstrong once - 2nd row - Tower Theater (Upper Darby, Pa) supporting 'Taste For Passion' - He played a fretless Gibson RD Artist as I recall. Awesome player.....
  17. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    Big big fan of Ralphes, saw him several times with JLP, he had a gibson endorsment at the time, played a fretted and frettless RD artist as well as a frettless ripper and Lab series amps( gibson product) I agree whole heartily with the above post, this guy swings harder than any bass player I,ve ever heard, everytime I hear that solo on Enigmatic Oceans it just sends chills up my spine, You want muscular ass kickin groove monster bass? than listen to what Ralphes layin down, this cat is one bad ass player. Makes me wish I lived around Detroit just so I could go out and see him, I read that he plays locally with several bands these days. I had a chance to meet him once after a JLP show and I asked him where he learned to play like that, He just laughed and said" playin every little two bit dive bar in detroit" that and being part of the detroit youth symphony, sure hope he tours with somebody again someday I for one would be right down front.
    gebass6 likes this.
  18. rybass

    rybass Guest

    Jun 12, 2005
    His bass playing on Jean-Luc Ponty's "Cosmic Messenger" and "Enigmatic Ocean" are quintessential.
    gebass6 likes this.
  19. deanb1043


    Dec 20, 2002
    Ralphe played almost every gibson bass that was out back in the day. He is also a cool pro. One time when he came to New York with JLP at the Palladium the roadies didn't tune any of his basses. Every song they played when he picked up another bass it was out of tune but he just tuned up as the song went on. Hope somebody got their butt kicked after that show. I think his muscular groove must have inspired a future JLP bassist Randy Jackson.
  20. Hoover

    Hoover Banned

    Nov 2, 2007
    New York City
    that's Allan Zavod...you might be thinking of Warren Zevon?
    gebass6 likes this.

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