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.
Bass Player: Brandi Disterheft
Bands & Artists: Hank Jones, Harold Mabern, Vincent Herring, Solo artist
Home: New York City
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
Running, biking, and swimming in Far Rockaway, Queens; making video content; and practicing on those “holes” in my playing, while working on right-hand technique. When I can’t sleep, I sit down at the piano and write. Which reminds me‑I need to organize a book of tunes accumulated during the lockdown.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
Transcribing Clifford Brown, straightening out my right hand while holding a cork—as in my Ron Carter lessons in front of a mirror. Also revisiting melodies and heads I rarely play as a bass player.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
Charlie Parker always in the morning, and Freddie Hubbard. I’ve been watching Oscar Pettiford, Paul Chambers, Percy Heath, and Ron Carter on YouTube. I’ve always listened to them, but now I’m actively studying their hands and their presence on stage.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
Interface gear for live concerts on the online platform Side Door, to make successful online concerts; specifically Thunderbolt 3.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
I garden in the back alley and do pushups every day, with bit of yoga to keep agile because I’m not lugging the bass up flights of subway stairs. Every other day go for a run, bike ride, or swim, as that’s the only way to brush away that anxiety and antsy feeling of not playing each night. I’ve been re-watching Mad Men and the movie Elizabeth to remind myself that life goes on.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I’ll release my fifth record, a Brazilian jazz trio album with the great saxophonist George Coleman guesting. It’s called Surfboard, named for the Antonio Carlos Jobim title track. It also features drummer Portinho—known as the James Brown of the Brazilian funk samba—and Klaus Mueller on piano, who orchestrated for Herbie Hancock’s Gershwin’s World album. The first single will be released August 21st. I have a terrific filmmaker friend who has some great tandem surfboarding footage from Hawaii that I’m using for the accompanying video!
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Enjoy the extra time. All things pass. Call your peers, especially your elder musician friends. Study up on how to make a successful career from online concerts.
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All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi