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Steve LaSpina

Discussion in 'Bassists [DB]' started by Tom Baldwin, May 24, 2005.


  1. Mr. LaSpina doesn't seem to have his own thread, so here goes. I've enjoyed his playing on a number of recordings over the years. What struck me recently was listening to Jim Hall's Something Special, with Larry Goldings on piano. LaSpina's sound is VERY different than on other records. I'm pretty sure he's using steel strings, they have alot of sustain and mwah, but are also deep and rich (the bass, no doubt). There is also great clarity and detail (click at the beginning of many notes). I like his sound on this record, as well as the sound on the other records I have, which is a more traditional gut sound. I just found it curious, this (to my ear) rather drastic change in concept of sound. I wonder if anybody knows what he's up to recently, if he's back to gut, was this a temporary deviation, or is he a constant chameleon?

    Whatever he plays on, I like what he plays.
     
  2. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    I'm only familiar with his playing from Jim Hall's All Across The City, a record I dig tremendously. I'm listening to Bemsha Swing right now...

    He's got a very warm, long tone with plenty o'mwah. Loooove it. That's gut he's playing on that record?
     
  3. T, great idea to bring up Steve. He's a Mother! I too only have him on the Jim things.. These Rooms, Something Special and a couple trio things...love his sound and feel, his soloing is, to me, really refreshing. He plays the entire bass, register-wise. On one of those sides he does some solo stuff with octaves, which most of us know, is a bitch to get in-tune.
    I have a really neat Jim Hall Video Teaching thing that is excellent. Steve was playing a bass that looked Tyrolean or maybe Bohemian to me. Steel strings, probably Thomastik, with a towel covered large studio mic crammed between the legs of the bridge.
    Hearing these guys talking about their fingering methods is just a kick in the ass! Both Jim and Steve making great points about using less cross (slab) fingering to produce a more horn like, legato vibe.
    Like Miles and Bill, Jim has a talent for picking great bassists...
    Steve is from a long line of greats including Red, Ron, Don Thomson, and of course, his present guy Scott Colley.
     
  4. Yeah, I have him on These Rooms and Subsequently with Jim Hall, TrioArt with Jack Wilkins, and two nice Fred Hersch CDs from the late 80s - ETC and ETC plus one. I listened to those Hersch discs so much I just always associated that sound with LaSpina, and I'm pretty sure he's got at least gut top on those. Anyway, on those discs I really hear him coming from the LaFaro legacy... great stuff.
     
  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    I dunno, but Fred Pratt who posts here met Steve when he was auditioning Wan Bernadel's, so maybe he'll chime in.

    Steve LaSpina is a great player and a real nice guy. He dint know me from Adam, but when we were introduced and he found out I was a bassist, he let me check out his bass (and this is on break at a gig he was doing with Helen Merrill). I got to hang out a little more at a later date when he was doing a recording session with Jon's brother Doug, which was fun.
     
  6. So, how'd you like his bass, and what can you tell us about it?
     
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    It was that French bass that was on THESE ROOMS, big warm,purry sound. I don't remember it being that loud, but I wasn't playing with a good physical approach then. Likewise, the record sounds like gut strings to me, but I thought they were steel because the only gut strings I had any experience with at the time were Golden Spirals, which looked like gut. He may have been using metal wrapped gut strings, Olivs or something.
    The bass had a great setup and played very easily.

    When I first moved to NYC I would be out listening to music almost every night and, since Jim Hall was one of the cats I really enjoyed listening to, I would go hear him just about every time he played. Most of the time I'd hit the club performances multiple times in a week. I remember one week at Sweet Basil's, I was there 4 nights out of a 5 night engagement. I got to know Terry Clarke a little bit (he had worked with aguitar player I was then working with) so it was kind of fun sitting at the table with Terry, Gil Goldstein and Steve on breaks, just telling lies and ****...
     
  8. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    He played in my little town last summer with a relatively unknown singer at a dinky little outdoor concert series. He sounded good.
     
  9. There was an article about Steve a few years back In Bassplayer magazine and he mentioned he used Pirastro Orchestra strings at least on the top two strings.[Maybe Original flat chromes] He said it gave the other wise twangy strings some warmth and a darker sound.Also mentioned his amp set-up w. Woods and a Raezer's Edge cab.
     
  10. Just a heads up....
    Go to stevelaspina.com and you will find the Bassplayer article plus one from Global bass and one more.Cool stuff...
     
  11. Confucius

    Confucius

    Dec 27, 2004
    New York
    I haven't heard the Jim Hall stuff but I have a couple of records that he plays on and I can honestly say I do not like his tone or playing on them. Very sterile electric tone and flash over substance playing. Both records are fairly forgetable in general (Pat Martino - The Return and Larry Shneider - Mohawk) but the bass player stood out as being particularly tasteless. Just my humble opinion based on two records.
     
  12. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    That's funny, he speaks very highly of you...
     
  13. Confucius

    Confucius

    Dec 27, 2004
    New York
    Haha ... you are such a Mother Fuqua. Has something changed that makes your opinion now somehow more valid than mine?
     
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Even the closest possible deconstruction of those 8 words doesn't yield the conclusion that your question intimates.

    Unless, of course, it's a question that you ask yourself all the time...
     
  15. Confucius

    Confucius

    Dec 27, 2004
    New York
    You are right ... there wasn't an ounce of smartass in those 8 words. And yes it is a question I ask myself all the time. How can I be more like a know-it-all, middle aged amateur who name drops anyone he was ever within a 10 mile radius of?
     
  16. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Oh, I didn't say it wasn't smartass. I was just pointing out that no way in hell did it say that I thought my opinion was more valid than yours. In fact, the post didn't say anything about my opinion. It just, in it's own inimitable smart ass way, was pointing out that Steve LaSpina could give a **** about your opinion.

    As for your newest question, try using a scalpel instead of pick axe. If you feel you have the commensurate skill to use one effectively.

    As far as names, at least I use my own.
     
  17. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Gee, this is a quote I found by myself, whom I am often within 10 miles of, but I won't mention my name since it seems to bother some folks....

     
  18. godoze

    godoze

    Oct 21, 2002
    back on topic but slightly related to the above parry, when i heard Steve in my little burg last summer my first thoughts were " bah, nothing special there." But upon close listening he performed "bass function" perfectly in context of the performance; he held down the bottom, made great melodic contributions to the trio and only stood out of called upon. Just my .000002 p.
     
  19. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    CONFUSE-US, maybe you could hip us to a jazz bass player whose playing you like. What standard are you comparing LaSpina against?

    I can see not liking. "Sterile electric tone and flash over substance playing", "bass player stood out as being particularly tasteless" -- these just aren't phrases I would think to use AT ALL in reference to the stuff I've heard.

    So again, to understand where you're coming from, who do you like?
     
  20. Confucius

    Confucius

    Dec 27, 2004
    New York
    Hey Damon,

    Have you heard the records I mentioned? Thats all I am talking about. I know that the Pat Martino set was recorded close to 20 years ago, so LaSpina could very well have changed a lot. There is no standard by which I am measuring him against other than my own personal taste. By saying I didn't like it because of "sterile electric tone and flash over substance playing" you may conclude I enjoy the opposite. And right now as I write this I am listening to a bass player I really like - Greg Cohen - on the new Masada set (http://www.tzadik.com/index.php?catalog=7346-2) -- Interestingly enough Masada drummer Joey Baron is also the drummer on the Pat Martino record in question.