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: Teymur Phell
Bands & Artists: Mike Stern, Randy Brecker, Leni Stern, Bil Evans, Arturo Sandoval, Solo artist
Home: New York City
How have you been passing time during the lockdown?
I’m spending a bunch of time with my kids, which is great. I also finished writing the follow-up to my 2018 book, Killer Walking Bass: Melodic Lines for the Advanced Jazz Bassist; Vol. 1. Volume 2 takes a step forward with bass lines for tunes with difficult changes, like “Moment’s Notice,” “Conception,” and “26 2,” as well as modal tunes like “Impressions.”
What have you been working on in terms of your bass practice routine?
For the left [fretting] hand, I’ve been developing finger-stretching excercises for playing as fluidly in the lower positions as we do in the positions way up the fingerboard, as well as finger independence excercises in an attempt to reach perfect coordination between the right and left hands. For the right hand, I’ve been working on holding my elbow up so the ligaments between my wrist and forearm are straight, not bent, the way most bassists play. Having that straight line puts more weight behind the notes and enables you to attain high performance by playing more efficiently and fluidly.
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 classical music, especially Ravel; jazz pianists Herbie Hancock and Kenny Kirkland and my good friend Hadrien Feraud—we share some similar approaches.
What bass gear have you been playing and trying out?
I’ve never been a gearhead: I’m playing my F-Bass with DR Strings, and my Markbass amps. I’ve gotten back into messing around with my Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork pedal.
What non-music activities books, shows, movies, or workout recommendations do you have?
I’ve been into Fauda and Ozark on Netflix. With my daughter, it’s been Dora the Explorer and the Frozen movies—numerous times!
What projects do you have coming up when the world gets going again?
I was going to tour in support of my debut record, Master Volume, before the quarantine; I hope to be able to do that. I’m also putting a band together with microtonal pianist Etibar Asadli. We did a collaboration with drummer Lionel Cordew a few weeks ago and put it on YouTube:
What advice can you offer fellow bassists for staying positive and keeping morale high?
I think the best advice is to keep going forward; thinking about the situation too much can be quite detrimental. Whatever amount of time you dedicate each day to playing, practicing, or writing music, disconnect from the outside world and go into that bubble. Overall, stay positive and stay safe!
All check-ins compiled and edited by Jon D'Auria & Chris