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: Jorge Roeder
Bands & artists: Julian Lage, Gary Burton, Nels Cline, John Zorn, Solo artist
Home: New York City
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
Between home-schooling my kid and taking care of my place there’s surprisingly not a lot of time to play! Because I live in a Brooklyn apartment, I can’t play upright at night, so if I miss my chance I’ll grab one of my electric basses and play with headphones. I try to find a time to play something every day.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
The main focus of my practice has been not tightening up. I have a real problem with this, and I’m trying to use this time at home to get as good as I can at relaxing. I’ve been challenging myself by playing what I consider pretty hard stuff, and trying to relax through it. Turns out it’s easy to relax when you’re only playing a couple of notes! I’ve been playing 8th-note bebop solos on a “rhythm changes,” AABA form, modulating up a fourth on each chorus. I use a 2-3 clave as my accompaniment, with the tempo varying between 200-280bpm. It gets pretty gnarly!
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 summoning Charlie Haden almost every day. His playing has always been a source of comfort, beauty, and joy—and especially now. He has so many recordings out there, I keep stumbling upon something new. Between his work with Ornette, Hank Jones, Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett, and his own Liberation Music Orchestra, there’s an entire world of amazing, inspiring bass playing!
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
The last couple of years, I’ve been using the amazing Grace Design Felix Instrument Preamp Blender, into which I can plug in a high-end mic—I use a Schoeps MK 41. I plug my Realist Lifeline pickup into the second channel, and between those two channels my live setup has been elevated considerably. Now that I’m not performing in public, I use it for recording and solo streaming performances. But because I’m not playing with a drummer or any other musician, I plug in just the mic. Also, for electric bass I’ve been using the Noble tube preamp; I love the way it drives the tone.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
I enjoyed the movie Jojo Rabbit. What a trip, so my kind of humor. It artfully superimposes the ridiculous with the heavy, and masterfully satirizes the kinds of garbage ideas that divide people. With TV shows, I tend to rewatch some of my favorites late at night; I use them to fall asleep to, in sort of a pseudo mantric way. I guess the repetition of something I know helps me sleep. The two that I’ve been watching lately are Big Mouth and The Good Place. We’re also wrapping up with the final Harry Potter saga with my kid. We listened to the whole thing in audiobooks, and wow, it’s a great way to pass the time as a family, and to keep the screens away!
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I’m excited about playing live again with John Zorn and his New Masada Quartet, recording the new Julian Lage Trio album, and releasing the new Shai Maestro Trio album. Above all, I can’t wait to get on stage again. The feeling of playing live music is truly unmatched.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
Keep working on your artistry, because someday soon we will get out of this. And when we do, all the musical energy we’ve been building up during all this time inside is going to yield some amazing music—I am convinced of that!
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Read all 180+ Bass Magazine Check-in Features: Here
All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi