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: Jerry Jemmott
Bands & Artists: King Curtis, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Nina Simone, the Rascals, Wilson Pickett, Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Rick Estrin & the Nightcats, The Human Livestock Band & Revue
Home: Los Angeles, California
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’ve been enduring my own lockdown of sorts due to left shoulder replacement surgery I had at the end of last summer, though I’m back to playing. Fortunately some of my friends who are well organized had remote recordings for me to do in March and April. The Little Village Foundation enlisted Kid Andersen of Greaseland, in San Jose, California to do a rendition of Stephen Foster’s, “Hard Times Come Again No More” [See Below]. The Grammy Foundation enlisted Steve Ferlazzo to produce a 64-piece orchestra, which includes eight of us bassists, all on our smartphones, for a recording of the Beatles’ “Let It Be,” which will be out soon. And bassist Craig McFarland has organized a symposium via Zoom, and we have been funkin’ it up once a week.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
My new titanium shoulder needs extensive physical therapy, and there is no greater therapy than playing the bass. I had committed to memory the melodies of several bebop standards prior to my surgery, as a way pushing myself. This has paid huge dividends as I revisit them in different ways on the fingerboard, to uncover and challenge my limitations, both physical and mental.
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
I’ve been listening to “Glad to be Unhappy” by the Eric Dolphy quintet [Outward Bound, Prestige, 1960; George Tucker on bass] and “Samia” by Les McCann and Eddie Harris [Second Movement, Atlantic, 1971; Jimmy Rowser on bass]. They’ve given me comfort as I saw this pandemic that the Obama administration had prepared for, take aim at the world. Now it’s sadly aided by the current administration’s dismantling of the Office of Pandemic Preparedness—designed for the early detection of any new forms of viral outbreaks.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
Prior to the surgery, Kid Anderson gifted me with an 8-string Carlo Robelli bass that I could not put down during my last session at Greaseland. It’s still my go-to for pure, unamplified enjoyment.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
Check out the documentary Satan & Adam on Netflix. For me everything that has a flow and a need for harmony, teamwork, and timing, is music. Basketball in particular inspires me; in fact one of my teaching points, Souler Energy, is gleaned from a radio interview with the late, great Connie Hawkins; breaking down how the game is played.
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
My CompleteColorSoundMusicSystem is still looking for acceptance and development, and in this new virtual world there just may be a doorway. You can check it out at [www.soulerenergy.com]. If you go to the Events Calendar page on my website [www.jerryjemmott.com], you can download copies of my music instruction ebooks, at no cost. My online instruction platform, “The Bass In You,” is nearing completion. And I’m looking forward to resuming recording an African-inspired album by John “Blues” Boyd up at Greaseland, when it’s safe to do so.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
A good bass player will always be in demand, only now, there are so damn many of us; so make sure you tastefully leave your fingerprints on whatever music comes your way.