Monday, 27 June 2011

Still Watching

I keep the Casey Anthony trial on HLN as I go about my daily business.

Some people are critical of people who are watching this spectacle, but one could easily pass judgement against ANYTHING a person watches.  There are shows on TV that are very popular, but that I have never seen.  I don't care that people watch what they do.  It's not my business.

I have a huge interest in crime and courtroom proceedings, etc.  Been that way since I was young.  I read true crime, I watch criminal biographies and crime documentaries - I read crime fiction, and I even WRITE crime fiction.

I watched the entire OJ Simpson trial and have several of the books that were written afterward, including the (if) I DID IT book that the Goldmans gained the rights to in lieu of certain cash settlements due them from Simpson after the civil suit.  I watched the Jackson trials, too.
Manson, Bundy, Gacy, Holmes, Nelson, Gein, Wuornos, Fish - I've read up on all of them...and many more.

And so comes the question, "WHY?"

I wonder if my interest comes from a desire to watch the human killer as I might the killer in the animal kingdom.  Take the shark, for example.  The shark may hang out where there's lots of food and kill at random.  I watch these nature shows too.  I've watched shark attacks - the shark sneaking up on the seal and taking it out with one big bite!

The shark is not arrested because he kills to feed.

And yet, we arrested Jeffrey Dahmer.  A shark, of sorts?  A predator?

But a human.  Is it different.  And if so, why?

Casey Anthony is not a predator.  If she killed, she did so once, and would likely never do it again.  If she's guilty, she killed for a different reason.  And I'm not her judge.

It's not just the psychology of the killer that fascinates me - it's also the psychology of the society that judges her.  The various elements of morality that crop up.  Thou Shalt Not Kill.  That sort of thing.  We waffle back and forth between psychology and philosophy.

I wonder if people who criticise the "morbidity" of the TV courtroom watchers are doing so to pad their comfort zone - to make sure they distance themselves from what they perceive as decadent or cruel behaviour - in effect, distancing themselves from Anthony herself.  People call killers MONSTERS so that it's made perfectly clear that they are a breed apart.

I tend to watch with more sadness and sorrow than I used to when I was younger.  The more I see of this case, the sadder it gets.  Demonstrating that killing is wrong by threatening to kill the person who killed?  Shaky standards, at best.  As I could never kill a baby, I could never kill the person who killed a baby.

I'm no genius - I don't have a satisfactory explanation of what SHOULD be done.  Maybe it's not THAT they want to kill her, but the manner in which it's done, and then justified.

If a hyena killed a lion cub, and then the mother lion killed the hyena, I'd have nothing to say.
Nature has a kind of raw justice that we humans have "evolved" away from.  But it leaves us with a lot of questions.  Well, it leaves ME with questions, anyway.

Justice among humans is an odd thing.

I suppose that - in the end - despite my analytical psychobabble, I can't answer (to my own satisfaction) why I watch this kind of TV.  Listening to people as they describe dead babies and skeletal remains, etc.  And then listening to TV anchors and experts analyse the proceedings like they're doing a play-by-play sports review.

Could it be that it's simply because most of us see TV as Entertainment?  The Casey Anthony Show.  The OJ Simpson Show.  If it's on TV, it's there to entertain me.

I'm not sure it's that cold-blooded, but I wonder nonetheless.  It's not like I'm making popcorn and relaxing on the couch while I watch.  But maybe it IS cold blooded.

Roger Waters describes this mentality as "The Bravery Of Being Out Of Range."  Do we yell for executions because we're not in the chair?  Or the one with a finger on the button?

We seem braver when we have nothing on the line.

In the end, if you were to pin me down, I'd say I agree with the idea that I'm watching to define the killer as different to myself.

But I could never call her a monster.

As I watch her face (or the face of any killer in my list) I see a human being going through something horrific - something I am glad not to have in my own life. I can't imagine killing a baby; neither can I imagine living inside the skin of the Accused.

It's a way of counting my blessings, I guess.  My days are pretty safe.  The TV is on, and I'm out of range.

But do I have nothing on the line?

If anybody has this whole thing figured out, drop me a line.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Stu Hamm - Just Outside of Normal

Album Review
Stuart Hamm’s Just Outside of Normal
Genre: Jazz

Good music makes the art of keeping quiet a pleasure. If you go into an album with the plan of reviewing or critiquing it, you expect to be forming opinions as you go - maybe reviewing liner notes or jotting down an observation here and there. If you’re with others, you might even make comments aloud.

After listening to Stu Hamm’s latest work, “Just Outside of Normal,” I blinked my eyes, then looked up to find I hadn’t read any liner notes, formed any opinions, uttered aloud (or jotted down) a single word. The music had been so engrossing that all I did was listen. I disappeared into it with such relish that I didn’t move or speak until Hamm said it was time to go.

So I listened to it again - several more times, actually - each time remembering to take some notes! Then I decided to take myself back to the feeling of the first time, and combine that with some of the more traditional observations.

Stu Hamm doesn’t just play music, he plays with music. He bats it around like a cat with a ball - pounces on it, shoots it across the room, chases after it, buries it into tight corners and then sets it free to start over again. But as with all cats, behind the cavalier outer image of play lurks an animal with formidable skill. And so it goes with Stu Hamm.

The first thing I noticed were the harmonies. The songs are so well blended with chords, tones, and undertones, that I almost didn’t know where to listen. Hamm is a master at finding music within itself, and then giving each voice its own place apart from (and along with) its neighbours.

Next, I read up about the fantastic lineup of guest musicians. Joe Satriani, Robert Fripp, Frank Gambale, Jude Gold, and Mark McGee bring their guitar talents to the project. Then there’s Terry Disley on keyboards and John Burr on piano; Alex Murzyn and Karl Theobald on the saxophones; Carlos Reyes on violin; Stanton Moore, Alan Hertz, and John Mader on drums, Allison Lovejoy on the accordion; Malika Alaoui gives us the vocals on the final track, and even brother Bruce Hamm joins in, playing the dotar on the title track!

This list is quite impressive, and each contributor falls into Hamm’s vision with a worthy understanding of what the man wants to accomplish and where he wants to go.

Hmmm, cats in packs? It’s possible, but you have to have the right alpha cat at the helm.

The album has nine songs, and each is a beauty unto itself, but when they come together, they form a different identity. These songs belong together. Is this a concept album? Nah, I think it transcends that description. It feels more like a trip. A traveling journey through many different concepts, many different feelings.

So...back to the beginning.

I start my trip with the opening number, called “The Obligatory Boogie.” Nice. It chugs along with a stomping beat, lead by Hamm’s infectious bass licks, and followed closely behind by the hard-driving, distorted guitar. Right away, your foot’s a’tappin’ and you’re rarin’ to go! I smile and fasten my seatbelt.

But when it’s over - instead of ramping up - I am eased right down into the pensive “Going to California,” a remake of the Zeppelin tune. This version has a much deeper resonance than the original and Hamm’s bass dives all the way to the bottom. The crying guitar, and soft, dancing cymbals and snares make it all the more meaningful. And because it’s an instrumental version, the voice of the missing lyrics must come through the instruments. Hamm’s bass is that voice, and it speaks just as softly and thoughtfully as the melancholy lyrics ever could. And so the journey continues...

Third up is a wonderful, lively rendition of “The Clarinet Polka.” Heh, heh...ever hear it done with bass guitar as lead instrument instead of a clarinet? Joined up by the accordion as second banana? I’ve never before heard a polka with so much rumble. Wait for the ending. Pure theatre! And so the ride takes a twist...

As the polka settles away, I find myself at the door of “Windsor Mews.” With the musical trip being so diverse thus far, I wonder where this number will take me.

Hmm...harmonious, yet tremulous bass chords. A little disquieting. The tune finally settles into a soulful, weeping guitar that reminds me of David Gilmour. I miss songs like this. It’s the style. Creative and new, yet so solid and familiar. I wish there were more songs like this out there. The journey is starting to get really retrospective...and introspective. And speaking of introspective...

Up comes the title track, “Just Outside of Normal.” I have learned that Normal, Illinois is where Hamm grew up, and I can’t imagine a single resident of this town who doesn’t measure him or herself by the yardstick of that name.

Based on the way Hamm presents this number, I'd say he has both fond and troublesome memories of Normal. The song has such a gentle, pleasing peace to it, but it also makes me sad. I’m a little outside of Normal myself, and Hamm definitely finds the spot. I’ve never been to Normal, but I think the sentiment exists in us all. Childhood. A lot of wonderful memories, and maybe some “coulda, woulda, shoulda.” Absolutely beautiful tune. Listen for the dotar.

I am now swinging like a baby in a HAMMock on the porch. Smiling. And just...listening.

The man now surprises me by including a gorgeous version of “Adagio” (also known as the Adagio in G minor). So subtle and controlled - different altogether from any other version I’ve ever heard - with a bass guitar in the lead. Proof positive that Hamm doesn't know the meaning of the word "boundaries."

Listen to this one and try to remember that this is the same crew who just recently finished playing The Clarinet Polka without a clarinet. Craftsmanship, pure and simple. I’m no longer lying down. I just sat up. And I think my jaw is dropping.

The final trio of songs in this odyssey starts with “Big Roller.” At first blush, it reminds me of the song “Istanbul,” as done by They Might Be Giants (or The Four Lads, depending on how far back you go). A little exotic, a little saucy, and a whole lotta dance. A nice upswing from the serious Adagio piece. I think Hamm is reminding me not to get too comfortable in the contemplative numbers that have come before.

Okay, Stu, I’m on my feet! Where to next?

The penultimate song is called “Uniformitarianism.” The word is defined as “The theory that all geologic phenomena may be explained as the result of existing forces having operated uniformly from the origin of the earth to the present time.” A very unusual description for a song, but quite right when you hear it. It echoes with the steady patterns of coming-around-again newness and rebirth. Formation, growth, rejuvenation. Pick your adjective. You’re waking up. You’re opening your eyes for the thousandth time...or the first time.

And up on the distant hill stands a lone guitar player. He calls to the dawn. The journey has just begun...again.

As the sun rises, along comes the last piece, called “Lucidity.” I finally get to hear the vocal contributions of Malika Alaoui, and to me, what she sings about is hope and wonderment. “My mind is the sky,” she sings. And she's right.

Look up and think about what you can accomplish, and what might lie ahead for us all.

Hamm does everything with the bass but dress it up and take it out for dinner. Slaps, taps, picking, plucking, finger style - there isn't a sound he can't make with this instrument. But then I'm sure you all know that. We've all seen the videos. We've all watched as he and his partner go through their paces. To explain to the members of Thunder Row how well he plays is just preaching to the choir.

Anyway...this is where Stu Hamm has taken me. It’s been a breathless journey of smiles and even a few tears. Albums like this are rare, filled with both generosity and self-exploration. I am completely thrilled with what he has played for me, and honoured to have been allowed inside for those moments when he played for himself.

So my final question is: Where do you think this album would take you?

All you have to do is listen.

© 2011 CL Seamus for Thunder Row

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Circus Is In Town

This was my response to an article posted on CNN.

Casey Anthony is not "Tot Mom." She is "The Accused" or "The Defendant." Nancy Grace's incessant spreading of this high-school mentality nickname defines the lack of seriousness being given this entire process, and shines a light on Grace’s insatiable gluttony for sensationalism over professionalism. And the more people complain about her use of this term (Google it) , the more she forces it into every sentence of her daily bawling. She seems to want two things - to offend people, or to get them to follow her lead. Either way, it all adds up to ratings.

She screws her face into a twisted grimace of toxicity, and then utters a term that seems more akin to playful affection between mother and child. The idea that she goes home every day and lets her children see her using the sweetie-pie term, “Tot Mom” to describe an accused murderer of a baby is an obscene visual. Nancy Grace should be ashamed of herself. The fact that CNN perpetuates this indecency by using her terminology as an opening line to this article is par for the course when talking about the circus-like theme of this trial. It IS a circus, and CNN (and Nancy Grace) are the ones selling tickets.

I will admit that I, too, bought a ticket to the “Casey Anthony Show” when it first started, but you know what? I am really losing my taste for the cotton candy. I don’t know, people - I look in the mirror and find that I feel queasy about the face that looks back at me. This is not the person I want to be, especially when it comes to how I deal with something as terrible as the murder of a child. I’m sorry CNN/Nancy Grace, but I can’t continue to treat this like a game.

How would you feel if you went to court to settle a traffic accident and some irresponsible TV broadcaster nicknamed you the “Whoops-a-Daisy Driver” because you said in court that you accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake? People start following the trend by calling you that name every time they see you at the store, or getting on the bus. And then the TV broadcaster realises how popular it’s made she incites all the people in her audience to call you this name, too. And her ratings go up, and everybody falls in line behind her, and so begins the march.

The people in this trial are real human beings. Whether found guilty or innocent, Casey Anthony’s fate will be determined by the actions she has taken, and the same applies to me, or you, or Nancy Grace. What we say, what we do, and how we behave defines US and shapes our tomorrows and the tomorrows of our children, our society, our world. I’ve made the decision to re-define myself by ripping up the ticket and finally giving this situation the grave reverence it deserves.

CNN? Nancy Grace? “The Accused” or “The Defendant,” if you please.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Geoff Gascoyne - Jazz Master

My Thunder Row interview with Geoff Gascoyne

The London Bass Guitar Show showcased many very talented musicians and one of those who caught the eye of the TMBG contingent was Geoff Gascoyne, a bassist of very impressive talents.

I want to admit right off the bat that I am not well-schooled in the style of music we call Jazz. I am only a student, and admit openly that, quite frankly, Geoff’s musical prowess leaves me in the dust. But to me, this is okay, because as I listen to his albums, I enjoy the music purely from the vantage point of a fan, a layman listener. I am neither critic nor connoisseur.

I think Geoff makes music for people like me. I think he wants to share the beauty of Jazz with the listener - to take them on a journey of sound. I don’t know any of the technical goings-on that make Jazz such a distinctive art form, but you know what? His music makes me smile, tap a toe, and even snap a finger or two, so as long as Geoff continues to create great music, I will continue to provide the ears. how about a bit of background? Geoff’s bio and the full (and may I add, jaw-dropping) accounting of his extensive musical efforts can be found on his website. Believe me when I tell you, this here is an extremely abridged version.

Geoff Gascoyne was born in Nottingham, England, on November 23rd 1963. He was attracted to music at an early age, starting with the piano at the age of 6.

Formal classical training lead him to the passing of the Grade 8 examination at the age of (around) 13 and soon after that, his love of the popular music of the day and the need for musicians in local groups encouraged him to take up the electric bass.

In 1981, he joined his first professional group and by 1988 his natural curiosity and self-motivating attitude had lead him to begin studying jazz music.

In 1990 he joined the group Everything But The Girl and toured throughout the world. The band released WORLDWIDE in 1991. There was also another world tour in 1994 with the award winning “Hip-Hop-Jazz-Rap” group, US3.

In 1993, Geoff began to play acoustic bass in the band Wabash and started focusing on composing and arranging for the first time.

In 1995, he performed with Van Morrison on a short tour of the UK.

It was also in 1995 that he recorded his first album as a leader, the widely acclaimed VOICES OF SPRING. It featured 10 of London's finest musicians and singers and demonstrated Geoff's achievements on the electric and acoustic bass.

It was around this time that he also began teaching privately and as a guest tutor at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

In 1996 he began to concentrate more on playing the acoustic bass. Geoff recorded his second CD as a bandleader in 1997, a duet album of Christmas melodies with pianist Peter Churchill called WINTER WONDERLAND.

Throughout the late ’90s, he continued to tour and participate in various recording projects, and was involved in the development of a new “Rockschool” syllabus, devising graded examinations in rock, pop and jazz.

In 1999 Geoff even made an appearance in the movie, “The Talented Mr Ripley” as (surprise) the bass player!!

As the new millenium began, Geoff was busier than ever, and in 2001 he released the third album under his own name: AUTUMN, which received rave reviews from the press and marked the start of a new phase for Geoff as a bandleader. Later that same year, Geoff’s quartet recorded SONGS OF THE SUMMER.

From 2002 to 2006 Geoff continued to record, tour, and serve as arranger on many projects.

In 2006 he released his fifth CD, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF for Candid records and toured the UK with a 10 piece band that included his Jazz Quartet, a classical string Quartet and Jamie Cullum as a sideman.

Aside from producing 6 CDs as a leader Geoff has been involved in production for many artistes including Jamie Cullum's first 2 CDs which he arranged many of the tunes and chose the musicians. Geoff is currently producing albums by Joshua Kyle, a young Australian Jazz/RnB vocalist and Jazz singer Gill Manly with whom Geoff works regularly with at Ronnie Scotts.

Geoff currently teaches jazz bass at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama London.

Geoff will also teach this year from Aug 6-11 at The Jazz Summer school in France.


As someone who listens to an awful lot of music from the 30s and 40s, this took me back there so fast, I kinda lost my breath there for a minute.

Rather than review Geoff’s work by using a language I don’t fully understand, let me just tell you about a few of his songs that really touched me.

From VOICES OF SPRING - I very much enjoyed the remake of “On The Street Where You Live,” a tune from My Fair Lady. The bass solo is outrageously good and you hear every single note. Geoff’s fingers are right inside your brain, so to speak.

From AUTUMN - For me, the sweetest track on this album is called “Tribulation.” One man, one bass - deep, acoustic power. This song appears in a different form on another album of his, but this version is solo bass. Since I got the album, I have moved both copies of Tribulation to my mp3 player. When I asked Geoff about the reason this song would hit me the way it did, he taught me a lesson about jazz.

From KEEP IT TO YOURSELF - This is the album where the second version of “Tribulation” appears. Geoff hands off a lot of the work to a family of very uneasy strings, and this is where I learned my lesson. You’ll read what that lesson was in the interview below.

This entire album is tense and experimental. Try a couple of the remakes - “God Only Knows,” after the Beach Boys classic and the jazz standard, “Frankie and Johnnie,” (bonus track) - raunchy, standup bass.

From SONGS OF THE SUMMER - I was hard-pressed to pick a favourite from this album. Everything was just as I like it. How often does that happen? If I was pinned down, I’d choose “One Last Thing” and “New Waltz.” But only is I was pinned down. Pound for pound, my favourite of all the albums.

From WINTER WONDERLAND - Take your pick. Geoff’s take on Christmas songs. “Winter Wonderland” with a great bottom end. Listen to the pulled upright strings rattle and shake! Better yet, listen to this one through your headphones.

From POP BOP - Try the remake of Diana Ross and the Supremes’ “The Happening.”

The bottom line about the music is that Geoff goes everywhere. He is playful and experimental, definitely NOT afraid to change things. He is a master of his craft and every note confirms that, whether played with a soft brush or a sledge hammer.

There are moments where he and his bass are king of the song, and other times when he just disappears into the background. Either way, it work, and I’m very glad I got to meet the music behind the man!

We had a chance to ask Geoff a few questions about his craft.

TR: How was The London Bass Guitar Show?

GG: I met up with some old friends and got some ear damage from all the bass slapping.

TR: Which musicians did you see?

GG: I met up with Laurence Cottle, Janek Gwizdala, and was introduced to Stu Hamm.

TR: Stu Hamm is a favourite among Thunder Row members. What about basses? Did you see anything at the show that turned your head more than others?

GG: Not really, I have all the gear I need at the moment.

TR: That’s something you won’t hear from a lot of the students here! Tell us about the Masterclass you gave at the LBGS.

GG: I played acoustic bass by myself then was asked lots of questions, mainly about doubling with electric bass and technique.

TR: Let’s go back a bit. You started on piano and then changed to the bass.

GG: I started piano at the age of 6 and finished around 14 having passed Grade 8. Then at school I started electric bass in a punk group. I had dyed red hair and I think I had the biggest hands.

TR: Dyed red hair and big hands - the most sought-after attributes for a punk bass player. How did that lead to jazz?

GG: As I became more interested in more sophisticated music styles I discovered jazz. This lead me to acoustic bass which is what you have to play to be taken seriously in jazz. It was around 1990 that I was getting more into it.

TR: Do you still keep up with your piano playing?

GG: Yes. I still compose and arrange at the piano.

TR: Who were your bass influences as you were developing your skills?

GG: For electric bass, it was Bernard Edwards from Chic (for his grooves), Jaco Pastorius (for everything), Pino Palladino (from his time with Paul Young to John Mayer).

TR: And for acoustic?

GG: For acoustic, it was Ray Brown (his time feel, his note choices, his sound), Charlie Haden, Paul Chambers - there are so many more.

TR: To you, is the standup a “truer” bass than an electric bass? That is, more of what the bass sound was really meant to be? Or are the two completely different voices for completely different jobs?

GG: Obviously, the two are very different voices, but I do think the acoustic bass is a truer sound for authentic rootsy musical styles.

TR: Ever switch out a standup for an electric or vice versa, just to shake up people’s perceptions of which bass should be heard in which tune?

GG: I often do in my own group on, for example, a samba feel. A swing feel will always be played on the acoustic bass, mind.

TR: Our members love hearing about gear.

GG: I have a German Flatback Acoustic bass from around 1960 strung with Innovation Golden Slap low tension strings. This has a David Gage pickup going into a Sansamp bass driver then into an SWR Baby Blue combo amp.

TR: And the electric basses?

GG: My main electric is a 1964 Relic Fender Jazz bass. I also have a Marcus Miller 5 string Fender Jazz and a Dean Acoustic bass guitar as well as a Gallien Krueger combo, an SWR SM900 and Hartke 4x10 cab.

TR: Let’s talk a bit about teaching. What made you decide to teach the bass?

GG: Money.

TR: Always a good reason. Do you start from scratch or is yours more of the advanced teaching?

GG: Depends on the student, I recently started teaching jazz to classical students at the Guildhall School of Music. This is a challenge because they didn’t even know what Blues was. But I do teach advanced students too, this can be harder trying to think up new challenges for them.

TR: What sorts of opening words do you give to your new students? You know, to inspire and motivate them?

GG: Be patient, and listen.

TR: I imagine you get a lot of satisfaction watching students progress and awaken their artistic talents.

GG: To watch them steal my gigs? Mmmmm...

TR: Which of your students have gone on to become noted musicians or play in well-known bands?

GG: My past students include Janek Gwizdala, Sam Burgess, Ollie Hayhurst and Orlando LeFleming.

TR: Of course, in addition to teaching, you’re also a very gifted performer. What’s the best gig you ever played?

GG: Too many. Van Morrison at Oxford Apollo...

TR: I love Van Morrison.

GG: Also the Royal Festival Hall with Jamie Cullum on my 40th birthday. The Mingus Big Band at Ronnie Scotts. Dianne Reeves at Queen Elizabeth Hall.

TR: Ever have a performance go bad? Or that was simply not to your liking?

GG: A lot of bad onstage sound usually causes this. Royal Albert Hall can be tricky.

TR: What happens to make it not so good?

GG: A rock and roll sound man mixing a jazz group.

TR: Do you prefer smaller, intimate venues or bigger rooms?

GG: Depends on the music, I like it all.

TR: I’m curious about something. A guitar player or piano player will usually write for his/her own instrument, but people who play the drums or the bass are often composing music for other instruments. Is the majority of your composing done for instruments other than the bass?

GG: Yes, but I prefer to write for specific musicians.

TR: Why?

GG: If I know what they sound like I can get a group sound in my head.

TR: One of your songs I really enjoyed was “Tribulation.” It appears on two of your albums: “Autumn” and “Keep It To Yourself.” and is one of the finest pieces of music I’ve ever heard. How did you see the original tune in your head? Bass only or a multi-instrument mix?

GG: It was first written for a group with soprano sax, guitar and bass. I adapted it for bass and string quartet for my Candid CD “Keep it to Yourself.”

TR: On “Autumn,” it was a bass solo, but on “Keep It To Yourself,” the bulk of the work was handed off to bowed strings. What made you decide to do the second arrangement with strings?

GG: I liked the tune and felt that there was more to it than the first version.

TR: The strings and the faster tempo give it a very unsettled and uneasy edge. Is that a better arrangement for a tune called “Tribulation”?

GG: The unsettled-ness comes from the meter. It’s in 5/4 time.

TR: Ahh, I just learned something. As a student musician, I’m not always aware of these differences at first take. About the two versions - does a composer ever really stop writing/re-arranging a song or is there always a fresh voice to be heard from a tune?

GG: That’s what jazz musicians do.

TR: Which do you prefer? Composing your own or taking the music of others and making it your own?

GG: I like both.

TR: You’ve worked with a lot of very impressive names. Which collaborations have brought you the most satisfaction, either in recording or stage performances?

GG: The ones that lasted the longest. Twelve years with Georgie Fame, seven years with Jamie Cullum.

TR: Because you do work with so many different people, you really have to have a feel for many musical styles. Do you adapt easily to other people’s visions?

GG: I do.

TR: How did it feel when you finally took the reins to create the first album with your name: “Voices Of Spring”?

GG: That was a tricky one to get together. Two days and twelve musicians.

TR: Would it be fair to say that even though it was your name up front, you still considered this album to be a group effort?

GG: It is my concept but reflects all the other work that I was doing at the time (1995).

TR: Tell us what’s coming up for you.

GG: A project with my wife, singer Trudy Kerr called Ted & Gladys. I am working in sax player Peter King’s Quartet and I have some gigs in the summer with Michel Legrand.

TR: You’re busy all the time. Away from the bass, what do you like to do for leisure?

GG: Walk my dogs, watch movies, cooking for the family. I have four kids.

TR: If you could only continue doing one of these, which would it be? Playing, teaching, writing, or arranging for other musicians?

GG: Playing.

TR: Who are you listening to now? What’s on your disc player or mp3 player?

GG: Hampton Hawes, The Bird and the Bee, Paul Simon, Gerry Mulligan, Deadmau5, Elvis Costello, The Wood Brothers, Luiz Bonfa.

TR: Thanks for speaking with us, Geoff. Before we go, do you have any advice for the students of Roy Vogt’s Teach Me Bass Guitar?

GG: Learn to read music, not those stupid TAB things. And buy a piano, learn chords and then listen to the masters. Transcription is the only way to learn the language they call jazz.

Geoff’s music is available online at Napster and iTunes, and some are available on Amazon.

Geoff's website

Geoff's YouTube channel

© 2011 CL Seamus for Thunder Row