I’ve had a passionate relationship with music for as long as I can remember. Whether it was sitting in the family living room mesmerized with my Father and his singing group rehearsing for an upcoming performance, inspiring my brief, yet passionate singing career at age 8, to the acoustic guitar lessons I received at The Brooklyn Academy of Music at age 10. My thinking was that If I couldn’t sing those Jackson Five songs, maybe I could play them! I’d like to tell you the connection between those lessons at B.A.M. and finding my “real” voice 3 years later on electric bass was smooth and seamless, but that wasn’t the case.
Now at age 58, with years of formal and practical experience: local, national and international, both life and music-centric, I have had the honor of working with many remarkably talented and knowledgeable people along this journey. I currently play bass and share arranging duties for The Hip Pocket Orchestra, a 10-piece Boston-based dance band. In addition, I have resumed teaching this year after a hiatus due to health reasons. It feels good to be back.
A little over forty years ago I studied in the halls of Berklee College of Music, as well as in the home of educator par excellence, Charlie Banacos. Since then, I have persistently taken on the recurrent challenge to stay “fresh” and motivated while honoring the “Masters of the past,” and remaining open to the budding “masters of the future.”
I have adopted the daily practice of transcribing to learn or correctly re-learn songs and their basslines. More important then “How” a part is performed, is the “Why” that sequence of notes, rhythms, etc., were chosen in the first place.
Unfortunately, the “Why” cannot be answered by simply focusing on a single instrument. I like to think of myself as a M.G.I. (Music-Groove-Investigator), trying to “see” where the part was played on an instrument, and that instrument’s role in the overall DNA of the song. Playing bass as a composer or arranger fundamentally keeps me engaged and focused when self-editing, in the context of a 10-piece group is paramount.