Why I consider myself first and foremost a Bassist
Hi! It’s Charluxx.
The first time I “got” the bass while listening to music was when I heard Stanley Clarke playing Lopsy Lu. That moment would changed my world. Even though I had no idea at the time, being all of 10 years old.
I asked my dad what made that amazing sound. He told me about the bass and about Stanley Clarke. I had an epiphany of sorts. One of many in my life... a LOT of them music related. More on that later...
The bass is one of those instruments that no one really notices but is essential in music. In modern music the electric bass or its electronic counterpart is used. In jazz the role is played by the upright bass. In classical music the cello and double bass are its equivalent.
The reason the bass is seldom heard is because it is mostly relegated to a background role, along with the drum, part of what we call the rhythm section. Together they create the underlying rhythm, the beat of the song.
Modern music is full of conventions, placing the bass pretty low on the totem pole of instruments is an unfortunate consequence. We discern mostly the guitar, the piano, the keyboard, the singer(s), and even the drum, before we notice the bass.
Another reason for this is because the bass is felt more than it is heard.
The bass is played on the low end of the musical spectrum, unlike the guitar and keyboards, that are mostly on the higher end frequencies. It is easier for us to hear those sounds.
On the dance floors of this world, and thanks to sub-woofers, the bass plays a key role in getting you to groove.
In funk music the bass is a little bit more upfront.
With my Sexy Funk brand of music, I mostly put the bass front and center—like Stanley Clarke. It’s funky that way. It’s sexy that way.
For me it drives the song, gives it life and goes straight for your guts. The higher ranges instruments tickle your upper body, your brain, your intellect almost. The bass... well that’s the sexual instrument: it stimulates your core, it makes you move, it can make you horny. As a musician and a composer, I like doing that. A lot.
Here are some of my favorite basslines, and bassists, that you probably know, or that deserve to be discovered:
- Taxman and Come Together The Beatles (Paul McCartney is an amazing bassist!)
- Rio Duran Duran (played with funky gusto by the inimitable John Taylor)
- Good Times Chic (by the legendary Bernie Edwards)
- Another One Bites the Dust Queen (John Deacon heavily influenced by Bernie Edwards)
- Pump It Up Elvis Costello (a funky tour de force by bassist Bruce Thomas)
- Another Brick In The Wall and Money Pink Floyd (played by über talented Roger Waters)
- I Wish Stevie Wonder (Nathan Watts at his groovy best)
- Know How Young MC (funky as hell Kevin O’Neal on the bass)
- Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) Sly and The Family Stone (by the father of the slap technique that revolutionized modern bass playing and bassist extraordinaire: Larry Graham)
- Give It Away The Red Hot Chili Peppers (Flea is a phenom!)
- Let It All Hang Out The Nails (by the extraordinary George Kaufman on the bass)
- And last but not least, Dean Town Vulfpeck (Joe Dart is a God!)
I’m sure I’m forgetting a few very important ones, but these basslines moved me and had a profound effect on my musical upbringing.
So there you have it, thank you to my brother Stanley Clarke for opening my eyes and my ears and laying down the foundation of my funky bass soul.
As an added bonus, bass players are usually laid back cats... and frickin’ cool 😎
Peace and Love,
p.s.: Let me know what your favourites baselines or bassists are...