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: Brian Bromberg
Bands & Artists: Stan Getz, Dave Grusin, Michael Buble, Chris Botti, Randy Brecker, Andrea Bocelli, Solo artist
Home: Los Angeles, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
Well… In a very weird way the quarantine has been a good thing for me, personally, as it has given me no excuses to do anything but work on music for three upcoming CD projects! I wrote and demoed my next original music CD, remixed, remastered, and added a previously unheard bonus track to my Jimi Hendrix Tribute CD, Bromberg Plays Hendrix. That CD will be released this fall in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Jimi’s untimely death. And believe it or not, I did my first holiday CD. Kind of crazy, right? Me, a jazz-oriented bass player making a holiday record! A good deal of the following I’ve gained has nothing to do with me being a bass player, as I’ve been fortunate in my career to get a lot of commercial radio airplay. Most people just want to hear nice holiday music that they know or can unwind to. The holiday CD is not a bass-solo-after-bass-solo album, but it is a collection of great, classic holiday music with fun arrangements, where I use the basses in many different ways to create the music. This includes melodic piccolo basses, upright bass, 4- and 5-string electric basses, and acoustic and electric piccolo basses with steel and nylon strings. The basses are the glue of the CD without it sounding like a NAMM show demo!
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
Outside of recording my bass parts on my holiday CD, I have not had a lot of time to practice or play much of anything, as I spend most all my time in front of a computer on ProTools. When I do get a chance to play, I divide my time between electric bass and upright bass. Mainly I just play whatever comes to mind on the spot, as that playing time is more of an escape from sitting at a computer and staring at screens! I always start slow: long tones, scales, simple lines to warm up; then I just play whatever I hear or think of at that moment. It could be tunes, standards, licks, grooves, pocket, solos—all of it. I want to be a well rounded bass player, meaning I love to groove, lay it down, get funky, and own the quarter-notes and provide good voice-leading in walking lines. But I also want to be lyrical, singing, be a fluent soloist, express myself, and tell a story—using my bass as the vehicle to do all of that.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I hate to admit it but I rarely have to time listen to anything other then what I’m working on, whether it is my music, music I’m producing for other artists, or projects that I’m playing on as a professional bass player. Most of the time when I do listen to music I’ll listen to different channels on either XM or Music Choice. I like to hear a lot of different styles and discover music and players that I don’t know. That helps me to grow. I can learn from anyone, famous or not, as long as they’re playing their music at the top of their level and with honesty. A key for me is there is room for all of us who are making a statement on the bass that is uniquely ours. I don’t want to sound like anyone else, as I could never do what they do, the way they do it. I want to sound like me, whatever that sounds like. I’m still trying to figure that out because I play upright bass, electric bass, and basses that sound like various guitars. I can play you five tracks I’ve recorded on five different basses and each one will sound like a different person. That has been a blessing and a curse in my career because it’s hard to say, Bam, thats “X,” due to “X” having a specific sound that’s instantly recognizable. Me on the other hand, at times, not so much!
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
When I’ve had the time and when I was doing gigs before Covid-19 stopped live performances, I was checking out a new Mark Bass amp. We’ve talked about developing an amp together, as well. It’s amazing how they have grown over the years, and their bass roster is second to none! Also, Kiesel Guitars is going to make me one of my B2 Basses, with my radiused pickups, but with a real guitar pickup and circuit board for my Jimi Hendrix CD gigs. I’m not sure when there will be any shows, with the virus, but I can’t wait to play that bass!
What non-music activities, books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
With four horses on a ranch, dogs and cats, CD production, and hitting the gym daily, I barely have time to do anything else but chores and my music. Sadly, I can’t even remember the last movie I watched, pathetic. It was so long ago I think it was a silent movie in black and white!
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
Hopefully by the grace of God I’ll be able to do some gigs and tours to support the Bromberg Plays Hendrix CD, my holiday CD, and my next original music CD, which is due out in early 2021. My 10-piece band has been kicking ass, and we were having so much fun before Covid-19 cancelled everything. There are a bunch of live videos of the band on my website and YouTube where you can see just how much fun we were having onstage. I so miss playing live with the guys!
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Try and stay positive, use your extra time with quarantine to practice, listen, and be inspired. There’s so much great music out there to be discovered, go discover it! Always remember that our basses can be played better then we can ever play them. That’s great inspiration right there, as no matter what you do on the instrument you can always do it better with more practice and time spent honing in your skill set and craft. Also, that will put you in a better place when your phone does rings, when things start opening up. You can go into a gig or band situation and kick ass because you are ready, having done your homework while you were stuck at home. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression! Be safe out there!
Read all 180+ Bass Magazine Check-in Features: Here
All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi