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: Steve Bailey
Bands & Artists: Dizzy Gillespie, Paquito D’Rivera, The Rippingtons, Jethro Tull, Bass Extremes, Solo artist
Home: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and Boston, Massachusetts
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
Mainly I’ve been getting the Berklee Bass Department up and running online. No small task with twenty instructors! But it’s going quite well. I’ve been teaching students remotely around the world. Recording bass for some tracks sent to me, and writing some. Wrapping up the next Bass Extremes project, which includes getting our guest artists recorded, remotely. Hosting weekly webinars through Berklee that have featured Victor Wooten, John Patitucci, Gregg Bissonette, Marcus Miller, Will Lee, Chuck Rainey, Billy Sheehan, Ron Carter, Anthony Jackson, Oteil Burbridge, Michael League, Dave Ellefson, Justin Chancellor, and many others. I’ve been organizing the ABC: Academic Bass Council, a consortium of virtually every major college jazz bass instructor in the U.S., from schools such as Eastman, Manhattan School of Music, Miami, Belmont, Oberlin, Michigan, North Texas, USC, Berklee, and Indiana. The ABC did its inaugural concert a couple weeks back. And finally, Victor and I, and our team have been putting the finishing touches on a soon to be relaunched version of our old website, The Bass Vault [link below]. It will be an interactive site that will be full of education, inspiration, and innovation.
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
I’ve been getting up for sunrise and practicing, just after photographing my basses. I’m back in the Dotzhauer Cello Etudes, Vol. 3. And I’ve been working on fingerings for a be-boppish head that Vic and I wrote—but we’re going to make John Patitucci play it!
What music, songs, recordings, artists, bass players have you been listening to as a source of comfort and inspiration that you can recommend?
Miles Davis’ Nefertiti has been rotating with Tower of Power’s Back to Oakland—seriously all day, every day, it’s playing on the bottom floor of my house. Ron Carter does so many amazing and subtle things on Nefertiti. The slow version of “Pinochio” is insane!
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
My coolest piece of new gear is the Alesis MultiMix4 USB FX mixer. Each member of my faculty is using this great tool as an interface for their online teaching. It is an amazing unit, and inexpensive.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies or workout recommendations do you have?
I run on the beach everyday at low tide, and I look for sharks teeth. Each day I open The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, and I read a few pages, randomly. There’s much inspiration in that book by [authors] the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. And I meditate every day!
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
To finally release my new duet album Carolina [edit note: duets with everyone from Willie Nelson and Ian Anderson to Ron Carter and Anthony Jackson], finish the upcoming Bass Extremes album, and launch the new Bass Vault website.
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
There will be many good things to come out of all this: New ways to use technology. New appreciation for being “together.” I think the public will be very hungry for live music. And I know, as bad as it is, it could be a whole lot worse.
All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris Jisi