As the world continues to recover from the Coronavirus, we're all finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory given the subsequent lockdown that is keeping us off of stages and confined to our homes. Luckily, there's comfort in the fact that we're all in this together, and that there are still many outlets for us musicians to keep us active and sane throughout this quarantine. We're checking in with bass players from all over the world to see what they're doing to stay entertained, healthy, productive, and safe during this trying time.
Bassist: Armand Sabal-Lecco
Bands & Artists: Paul Simon, the Brecker Bros., Stanley Clarke, John Patitucci, Manu Dibango, Herbie Hancock, Peter Gabriel, Ringo Starr, Al DiMeola, Sir George Martin, Chris Botti, Alannah Myles, Stewart Copeland, Mass Mental, Positive Army
Home: Venice Beach, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I read, meditate, cook, look for new music and artists to like, complete songs I didn’t have time or inspiration to complete before, conversate with friends, and keep healthy.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I regularly go back to refining intention and expressivity. Keeping my technique at the service of my inspiration. Playing lean, meaningful, and emotionally involved.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
For inspiration I go to origins: Various traditional, acoustic, and rural music from around the world—going from Canadian Powwow to Murga in Uruguay, through southern Field Hollers, Woody Guthrie, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Doudou Ndiaye Rose. I’m also listening to some classic albums: Fela Kuti’s He Miss Road, Black Sabbath’s Paranoid, Herbie Hancock’s Flood, Jeff Beck’s Wired, Dr Dre’s The Chronic and 2001, Joao Bosco’s Ao Vivo: 100 Apresentacao, Bak Trío’s Cuatro, Cajón y Contrabajo, Thelonious Monk’s Straight No Chaser, and Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
Ampeg SVT-CL or SVT-4PRO heads with Ampeg Neo Pro Series cabinets, and a Marshall 1959HW guitar head, for dirt. In Mass Mental, against Rob Trujillo’s massive sound, I’m playing lead tenor bass, so I need a dual setup. Using bass and guitar rigs together works great to cut through with my stereo Alembic basses, with Dunlop strings. I’ve also been trying some Aguilar gear, F Bass and Musicman basses, Darkglass pedals, and LAA Custom pedals.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I like reading the works of Rumi, Rimbaud, Cheik Anta Diop, Arakida Moritake, Epictetus, and Gaudí. I’ve been watching cooking shows, the original Star Trek, Dave Chappelle, and funny animal videos. It’s good to keep a still mind in a frantic world.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I recently recorded a second album with the rock-pop duo Inaba/Salas—singer Koshi Inaba and guitarist Stevie Salas—which smashed sales and billboards records in Japan, but the sold-out tour is postponed until the world gets going again. I’m working on a new Positive Army record with stellar, eclectic, unexpected guests, who unite in the funk! I’ll be doing a follow-up to drummer Senri Kawaguchi’s album, Triangle Live, with keyboardist Philippe Saisse. And I’m working on music for Bunny Brunel’s next all-star Bass Ball record.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Be a voice and not an echo. I wish health and inspiration to everyone!
Follow Armand: Here
Read all 180+ Bass Magazine Check-in Features: Here
All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi