Jaco, Trujillo and Me!

Robert Trujillo, John Bendy, Rawn Randall, Mike Bendy at Winter NAMM!

Robert Trujillo, John Bendty, Rawn Randall, Mike Bendy hamming it up at Winter NAMM!

(Editor’s Note : Happy Birthday wishes to Robert Trujillo’s – 10/23)

The story spans over 30 years and this is all true; Me, Jaco Pastorius and Robert Trujillo.

The first time I saw Jaco play live was at Avery Fisher Hall in New York in 1982. I would never quite be the same.

The last time I saw Jaco was at the 55 Bar on Christopher St in NYC in 1986.

I was taking lessons from guitarist Mark Barasch. My main teacher, Steve Logan was on on the road with David Sanborn. Steve recommended Mark thus placing me in his West Village apartment once a week not far from The 55 Bar.

55 BarOn this particular night I just finished a late lesson and thought I just pass by to see who was jamming. Yikes! it was Jaco playing in a trio setting. I have completely forgot the other musicians. It may have been Kenwood Dennard on drums and Hiram Bullock on guitar. I know Hiram because my teacher/sensei/guru Steve Logan played with Hiram as well. Come to think of it, it probably wasn’t Hiram because he would have been out on tour with Sanborn as well.

Here I was a few feet from one of my 2 bass heroes. (Yes, Stanley Clarke was the other.) I am up close and personal with Jaco and to my utter dismay he is playing through a combo amp with a blown speaker and not sounding like the Jaco I know.

On the break he went outside and as if if in some sort of surreal comic book now here I am speaking to my fallen idol. “Hey man, can you get me a better amp?”, he says. I didn’t know him and had never spoken with him before except maybe once on the West 4th St basketball courts. Now my mission was clearly laid out for me.

FIND JACO AN AMP!

jpastorius_1I ran back to Mark’s place. I just played through his Polytone Minibrute III, not great but it’ll get the job done. I run full speed the 5 or 6 blocks to Mark’s apartment. I ring the buzzer. There’s no answer. I ring again and recall Mark saying he had his own gig that night.

Now what…I think to myself – I’ll buy an amp from Matt Umanov Guitars (just a block away). This is for Jaco and I gotta save the day. It’s after 9pm and Matt is closed. I walk back to The 55 with my gig bag on my back.

I failed my mission. The cats are back inside jamming. Shamed, I can not go back inside.

Fast forward 6 or 7 years to 1992.

I’m living in LA and working for Mike Tobias, the greatest luthier on the planet. I meet one of our top endorsees, Robert Trujillo. He’s a super nice guy playing for Suicidal Tendencies and Infectious Grooves. I organized a series of clinics in the LA area with Rob and some of his band mates. These clinics are being held at various Guitar Centers. Well here we are at our first event in Lawndale and the boys start playing a grove that turns into a sixteenth note high speed barrage of noise. Much to my chagrin the predominantly male audience whips themselves into a frenzy and a mosh pit forms. Sweat forms on my brow as I imagine the 100s of thousands of dollars worth of damage that is about to ensue. (Please don’t mention ‘sue’!)

I stopped the performance and begged for order and narrowly escape the evening with my life and my job. I also fall in love with a Guitar Center lady who would break my heart 7 weeks later. But that’s a story for another blog.

Fast forward again to the Winter NAMM 2013 convention in Anaheim. Twenty plus years later and Mr Trujillo has gone on to work with Ozzy Osbourne and a little band you may have heard of called, Metallica. I hadn’t seen Rob since but here he comes with an entourage walking into the Osiamo Music Gear booth. We greet and catch as much as his many fans around him would allow. Then he says too me, “Do you want to play it?” I say, “play what?” Just then the very talented Osiamo endorsee bassist Mike Bendy appears with THE HOLY GRAIL! It’s Jaco’s bass. Rob had purchased it some years previous and now here it was being delicately placed in my unworthy hands.

How did it play?

Rawn Randall with Jaco's Bass, the Bass of Doom

Rawn Randall with the “BASS of DOOM’!

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5 Questions with Stew Cutler


1) For those not familiar tell us a bit about your career?

I am guitarist / recording artist living in New York.  I have 5 CDs out either on the Fountainbleu or Naim labels- the last recording, “After Hours”,  I released independently. I have played a lot Blues, Soul, Jazz and Gospel music with a wide variety of artists. I have been fortunate to have been able to work and travel as much as I have in my career.

2) What do you see coming up for the future of music?

As for what I see in the future in music- I guess Stew Cutler at Montreux Jazz Clubthere is already a bit of a divide between the “product” that gets churned out by the major record companies, some of which is great, but a lot is nonsense – and actual heartfelt music which will find its own audience. Kinda like fast food or factory farmed food, which gets pushed on us versus organic food which people want and have searched out to the point that organic and non GMO foods have become an industry on their own.

3) What role has music education played in your life?

As far as my own music education I am a self taught musician. I did have many people help me in an informal way, notably guitarist James Clark, but there have been many others. If you are following this path, keeping your mouth shut and ears open is a good rule to follow. It would be nice to see music education make a bit of a comeback in public schools.

4) Why are you using Mooer pedals?

The Mooer pedals are light weight and great sounding. They are especially great if you are traveling, as we all know air travel is becoming more difficult! But I use the pedals in the city too, On gigs on sessions etc, they are really nice sounding. (Ed note: Stew uses the Mooer Yellow Comp, Trelicopter, Ana Echo and Flex Boost)

5) What future projects do you have coming up?

I have a steady gig ay a place called Arthur’s stewcutler guitarTavern here in NYC. I want to record that band, maybe do a live disc, I also want to do a “family band” recording with my wife who sang on ‘So Many Streams” my third disc, my son who is very busy as a bass player in New York and plays on one song on “After Hours” and my daughter who sings and plays with a group called “Small Wonder”, as well as doing her own gigs under the name, “Yours are the Only Ears”.

Thanks for reading our interview with Stew. We really appreciate you checking out our site and your interest in Mooer pedals. This weekend use this code MOOERSC and get free shipping (US orders only) on your purchase of any Mooer pedal. Click below to start shopping.

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Marcelo Rosa with Mooer Pedals!!!!

osiamoLogo1with_www_02 Marcelo-Rosa-Mooer-01

 
Since 2004 I teach guitar lessons. The experience of teaching was certainly a fundamental factor in my development, both professional and personal, because music can be an interesting tool in the process of self-knowledge, presenting benefits in other areas of life. An oriental proverb defines my experience as a teacher in a way that I find very interesting: “Students are teachers and teachers are students.”

Currently I teach at GTR Instituto de Música (Florianópolis/SC) and Fusion Escola de Música (São José / SC), and I am promoting my first instrumental work through concerts, workshops and master classes.

Discography 

Marcelo Rosa – Síntese [EP] (2013)
Heavy Metal Machines (Game) – Original Soundtrack (2013)
Fortress – América [EP] (2013)
Fortress – Shatter This Prison [EP] (2011)
Mindborn – Searching For Dreams [Single] (2008)

OK…Now What?





by Rawn Randall

OK… You got the right gear, a good teacher and you even know what music to listen to. You are on he right path. What’s next you ask? It’s time to play out. Even if you are not making money at first it is very important to get your feet wet playing live in front of people.

There are three questions you have to ask yourself of every musical situation you are ever involved in:

  1. Am I learning something?
  2. Am I having fun?
  3. Am I being compensated fairly?

In the beginning, the emphasis should be placed on ‘learning.’ If you are only playing as a hobby then ‘having fun’ should be of paramount importance. If you are making great sacrifices and trying to become a professional musician then being ‘fairly compensated’ should be your priority.

Fun is different for different players. Some players like playing live while others prefer the challenge of studio work. With the proliferation of the home studio, studio work is becoming more scarce. Therefore it is best to have mix of different musical situations.

One very good place to start is in your local place of worship. If there is not already a band you can talk to the leaders of the congregation about starting a band. If there is a choir without low-end accompaniment that is a perfect place to donate your talents.

If that is not your scene check the local coffee house for the singer songwriter scene. Most singer/songwriters are probably open to the idea of a little accompaniment.

Do not be afraid to play without a drummer. When playing without a drummer, time keeping falls into your lap de facto. This can be a great learning experience. I presently play in a country/western band that features no drummer. It is a challenge to keep a band playing in time together.

It is from this type of exposure that will lead you to better gigs and paying gigs. Purchasing a ‘real book’ is a very good investment. A ‘real book’ is a very large volume of lead sheets of show tunes, jazz classics and pop songs. It consists of the chord changes and melodies for 100’s of songs. If you become familiar with these songs you can be assured work with wedding bands, casual bands and industry orchestras.

These gigs are usually booked through your local 802 AFM Union. They pay extremely well. Make no mistake they are not the easiest of gigs to master. They require on the spot renditions of tunes everybody knows. You are quite often playing with musicians you don’t know. These musicians may be any where along their evolutionary journey. That means they may or may not know the tunes well. Not only is sight reading absolutely necessary but in many cases you will have to transpose tunes on the spot to match the singers ‘key.’

If you manage to pull in work from all these various venues it may be possible to make a decent living depending on ‘the cost of living index’ where you live. In many cases, any income derived from these playing situations can be a very nice supplement to having a ‘day’ job. It is very tough to make a living playing bass these days. It is good to have other skills as well. You can look into contracting gigs, programming drum machines and synthesizers, audio engineering and teaching as income ‘supplements.’

Today’s bassist has to draw on all his/her skills to make it. You have to make yourself as ‘valuable’ as possible. It is wise to add ‘background vocals,’ ‘doubles on upright’ and ‘sight reads’ to your business cards (you do have business cards don’t you?). It also helps if you can really do those things. Don’t hesitate to go the local college for a voice class in the music department. Reading is something you can improve just by sight reading a piece of music everyday. While learning to play upright is no small undertaking, you can become functional on the instrument in a year if you invest the right time with a method book.

Nowadays you have to be super versatile and there will always be a way for you to make it!

Addendum:

I wrote this fine piece of literature in 2001. Nowadays, 11 years later we have to address the advent of ‘Social Media in our Everyday Lives.’ Selp promotion has never been more available. That’s great except everybody has access to the same tools. Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Linkedin, SoundCloud ….can all be used to increase your visiblilty. Next month we will explore in depth how utilize these NEW marketing tools.

The Real Funk and Nothing But The Funk II





by Rawn Randall

Well I’m back with a funky update. The original article is from 2003. All lot has changed since then. Most note worthy is the ascension of YouTube and Google into the fabric of our lives. What that means for you funkateer wannabes is that there is a great deal of information out there.

With the advent ITunes you can buy individual songs. Google, Wikipedia and Amazon are also excellent sources of information.

On YouTube you can find any number of bassists playing ‘their’ version of popular bass lines. This is sometimes laughable as some renditions are just plain wrong, awful and out of time. But some are right on. There is one guy in particular named, MarloweDK. He’s the real deal! Check him out.

So in the last 10 years technology has made it more convenient to access the funk. Getting on YouTube is like falling down the proverbial ‘rabbit hole’. You never know what you’ll find.

Yipes, they caught up! In the past 10 years non-Americans have learned how play basketball really well. (see Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitski.) They also learned how to funk. I’ve upcoming interviews with: Kenji Hino from Japan, Jaytee Teterissa of Holland, Pascal Mulot from France, Andrew Lauer from Germany and Dario Deidda from Italy. Yes also with video.

Technology has also changed the way we record music. I’ll be writing an article with accompanying video on the near computer software that allows us to record and play along with your own funk jams.

There are a bunch new funky pedals out there that we must explore. We have gone far past the Mutron of yesteryear. I’ll be writing an article with accompanying video on Gear Updates.

On a sadder note, my teacher and Guru, Steve Logan passed away since the last article. Steve ‘Tweeter Banks’ Logan (a strange nickname for a bassist) left behind a rich legacy of licks, tricks and runs than I’m going to share with you. Again, with video. The torch has been passed.

PS. If you haven’t heard of Steve Logan look him up here on YouTube!

I had the honor of spending a few days with Marcus Miller as he recorded his upcoming 2012 CD. Wow, Mr. Miller is taking it NExT
LeVeL!

Finally on a the lighter side of things, I finally got the opportunity to see Larry Graham play live last year. I’ve met a few times though the years at trade shows and such but never got a chance to see him do his thing.

Now, I know he’s never seen me play live so I was wondering how he stole all my best licks! LoL

It was a pleasure to see the master at work. That’s where all this thumb stuff came from!

Top 10 Required Listening 2011:

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers, Uplift Mofo Party Plan
    bassist: Flea
    drummer: Chad Smith
  2. Roy Hargrove, RH Factor
    bassists: Reggie Washington, Lenny Starworth
    drummer: Willie Jones, JT Thomas
  3. James Brown, Greatest Hits/Rhino
    bassist: Bootsy Collins, Various
    drummer: various
  4. Incognito, Live in London
    bassist: Randy Hope-Taylor
    drummer: Pete Biggin
  5. Sam & Dave, Soul Men/Stax
    bassist: Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn
    drummer: Al Jackson
  6. Fred Hammond, The Essential

    bassist: Fred Hammond, Terrence Palmer. et al
    drummer: Various
  7. Jeff Lorber Fusion, Wizard Island
    bassist: Danny Wilson
    drummer: Dennis Bradford
  8. Parliment/Funkadelic, Give Up the Funk
    bassist: Bootsy Collins, et al
    drummer: various
  9. Pleasure, The Best of Pleasure
    bassist: Nathaniel Phillips
    drummer: Bruce Carter
  10. Michel Petrianni, Live
    bassist: Steve Logan
    drummer: Victor Lewis

(editor’s note : this is the original article written by Rawn not quite 10 years ago)

The Real Funk and Nothing But The Funk

by Rawn Randall

One of the most effective tools for learning a particular style of music is to listen to the ‘cream’ of that particular genre. I have compiled a list called the ‘Top 10 Required Listening for Funk’. A list limited by only 10, is bound to have great omissions. My most sincere apologies to Prince, James Brown, Earth Wind and Fire, Parliment/Funkadelic, Jaco Pastorius, Ohio Players, Tower of Power etc. These artists all belong in the Top 10. In truth there are about 100 albums in the Top 10!

The list encapsulates both traditional finger and slap style funk. I have indicated which style is emphasized on each record. In some cases, both finger, and slap are employed equally. A distinction can also be made between Jazz/Fusion Funk and Soul/R-N-B Funk. The biggest difference, is that R-N-B Funk usually has vocals while Fusion Funk has the melody carried by an instrument (not always by the bass, but in some cases) and more solos. I have tried to give an equal sampling of each in the list.

The time line spans from 1970 to 2003. LARRY GRAHAM, the father of slap bass, is represented on the ‘Greatest Hits’ of Sly and the Family Stone. Not all bandleaders on the list are bassists. MARCUS MILLER is on the list on two separate albums. I have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Miller for the past few years and I’ll share some interesting insights possibly in a future article.

I have notated the drummers as well as the bassists because of the unique way that each tandem interacts with each other. It is very important for the drummer to create the correct pocket for the bassists. Notice how Poogie Bell sets MARCUS MILLER up and leaves him tons of space for his percussive slap solos. The same can be said of Phil Gould of Level 42. He does a great job of staying out of the way of a very ‘notey’ MARK KING. Also of special interest is the role of the bass synth holding down the bottom while the bassist solos away. MARCUS MILLER’S ‘Ozell Tapes’ gives us a clear example of big bottom bass synth support.

Another key to highlight is how one drummer interacts with different bassists and vice-versa. On ‘School Days,’ STANLEY CLARKE is working with three very different drummers. Listen how each drummer has a particular style and how Stanley weaves his craft between them. On ‘Outbreak,’ by drummer Dennis Chambers, bassists WILL LEE and GARY WILLIS show how their very different styles work with a ‘busy’ drummer.

While the list is not composed in any particular order, these 10 albums are what I consider to be the most influential albums to my own playing and what I recommend that my students listen to. Let me repeat, another set of 10 could be considered equally valid. Pay special attention to ME’SHELL N’DEGEOCELLO’s ‘Plantation Lullabies.’ She is the youngest bassist on the list, and perhaps you can hear how she has been influenced by some of the other ‘masters’ on this list such as PAUL JACKSON and LARRY GRAHAM.

Top 10 Required Listening:

  1. Me’shell N’degeocello, Plantation Lullabies 1993 (f) (r/f)
    bassist: Me’shell N’degeocello
    drummer: Gene Lake
  2. Stanley Clarke, School Days 1976 (b) (f/f)
    bassist: Stanley Clarke
    drummer: Steve Gadd, Gerry Brown, Billy Cobham
  3. Level 42, World Machine 1985 (s) (r/f)
    bassist: Mark King
    drummer: Phil Gould
  4. Brother Johnson, Look Out for Number 1 1976 (s) (r/f)
    bassist: Louis Johnson
    drummer: John Robinson
  5. Marcus Miller, The Ozell Tapes 2002 (s) (f/f)
    bassist: Marcus Miller
    drummer: Poogie Bell
  6. Sly and the Family Stone, Greatest Hits 1970 (s) (r/f)
    bassist: Larry Graham
    drummer: Greg Errico
  7. John Scofield, Blue Matter 1986 (s) (f/f)
    bassist: Gary Grainger
    drummer: Dennis Chambers
  8. Miles Davis, Live in Japan 1981(b) (f/f)
    bassist: Marcus Miller
    drummer: Al Foster
  9. Herbie Hancock, Headhunters 1973 (f) (f/f)
    bassist: Paul Jackson
    drummer: Harvey Mason
  10. Dennis Chambers, Outbreak 2003 (f) (f/f)
    bassist(s): Will Lee, Gary Willis
    drummer: Dennis Chambers

funk style key
f – finger
s – slap
b – both
f/f- fusion funk
r/f – r-n-b funk

Step Back and Take Stock




How many instruments do you own? How many have you owned? OK stop the madness. It is time to break down exactly what is necessary and what is superfluous (ego massage). A lot of you may know my story. I have been either a sales or product manager for many bass product related companies including: Ken Smith Basses, Tobias Guitars, Tung Basses, Steinberger Sound, Gibson USA, Curbow Basses, Eden Electronics, EBS Sweden… and the list goes on and on. I have probably owned over 500 instruments over the past 20 years. Never more than 20 at a time, but I saw a pattern. Unless you are a collector owning multiple 10’s of instruments is probably not necessary to own more then 5.

Over the years I have noticed the following:

  • Most of my clients that own multiple high end instruments are professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc…);
  • Most of the working cats play Fenders or a Fender style instrument;
  • Most working cats play a 4 string as their main instrument;
  • It takes a minimum 3 to 5 years or 100 gigs to form a relationship with an instrument.

Trip on the Joy of a Main Axe

How instruments do you need? Well after your ‘bread & butter’ axe most cats then have a 5 string and then a fretless. Marcus Miller once told me that, “You have to establish a relationship with one instrument.” Haven’t we seen Marcus with the same instrument for over 30 years? You have to learn where all your dead spots are. Do you know the difference between the C on the 3rd fret A-string vs. the 8h fret E-string? You need to know how to get ‘YOUR SOUND’ and how to transfer it to a recorded medium. Nowadays this is mainly digital media that can alter the integrity of your tone.

How many times have you heard you favorite bassist and said, “Man, that’s the tone”? How did your favorite bassist get that tone? They play the same instrument all the time. Check out Will Lee, Nathan East, Sting, Victors Wooten and Bailey, John Patittucci, Jimmy Haslip, Pino Palladino, Flea… get my point? The top cats don’t change their main axe that often. They get hired for the exquisite grove, choice of notes and they sound great!

Other Tones

Yes there are other sounds out there. For every Jazz bass there is a Precision bass. For every Steinberger there is a Hofner Beatle bass. For every Alembic there is a Danelectro. These are all distinguishable, desirable and usable tones. In certain recording situations a producer may not want any other bass (usually a Fender) than what he or she is used to hearing. No matter what you must accommodate what is appropriate for the song. You may not need to take your 7 string 18 volt pre-amped bass to a country session; you may not want to take your Rickenbacker to a funk jam.

The point is to try to emulate as many tones as possible from your main instrument!

Signs of Sickness

  • Have you spent more money on modifications on a bass than the bass cost initially?
  • Have you sold or traded instruments at a loss only to…
  • Sell that next instrument at a loss?
  • Do you spend more time deciding which of your many instruments to play than actually playing?
  • Do you not play with other musicians?

The Solution

Why not eliminate some of the redundancy in your collection? Unless you are a collector I bet you could ‘get by’ with 5 basses:

  • Your Main Axe
  • A Fretless (playing fretless will improve your fretted playing, I promise)
  • An Axe very different than your main (helps to stay out of ruts, playing the same styles, etc..)
  • Backup to your main (always important to have your sound backed up in case of emergencies)
  • A collectable 60’s or 70’s instrument (everyone has a investment portfolio right?)

What Are You Going To Do Now?

Well with all that money saved you could do any any one or a combination of he following:

  • Take a few private lessons with a Pro in your area
  • Go back to school and take a theory or composition class
  • Attend a bass camp run by one the ‘Bass Heroes’ on the scene
  • Invest in some sort of music software/computer to record your own music
  • Buy a instructional video or book and actually work all the way through it

The bottom line is that you must always be doing something to sharpen your skills. This will always translate into making yourself a more valuable asset.

Invest in your bass ability not your bass collection!