1512423_1613292535597070_8559294212081997497_nAs I have mentioned in previous posts, my dad was a trumpet player whose love of jazz had a huge influence on me growing up. Despite the fact that he was a musician, we didn’t have constant music playing in the house but I vividly remember him sitting at the dining table, armed with headphones, a tape player and sheets of manuscript paper, writing out arrangements for the various bands he was in. I was always fascinated by his ability to pick out chords, melodies and harmony whilst furiously re-winding and playing the same 5 seconds of the track and scribbling away.

My sister and I were music fans, as most children are and we used to huddle around the radio on a sunday evening to listen to the top 40 and try to record the songs onto tape whilst avoiding the DJ’s patter in-between.

When I was 10, I discovered the ska band Madness and it’s safe to say they changed my life. I loved the reggae- style rhythms and the bass lines played by Mark “Bedders” Bedford really caught my attention. When my dad bought me my first bass, a Kay EB100, I set about learning every song Madness recorded and I even bought all the books of notation, despite the fact that I couldn’t read it at this point!

with my Kay EB100

with my Kay EB100

Alongside the Madness music, I was massively influenced by the 70’s jazz-funk that my dad’s band played and it was through this music that I discovered the bass heroes that are still my idols today. Players like Marcus Miller, Nathan East, Will Lee and Anthony Jackson.

The first piece I ever performed publicly was a jazz funk tune called ‘By All Means” by the US drummer Alphonse Mouzon. It was a track that my dad’s band Turntable played and he invited me to learn something and sit in with the band. I studied hard and eventually made my first steps into live performance. Little did I know that it was my first taste of a drug that would still flow through my veins 30 years later! I still gig this tune occasionally with Bournemouth-based jazz funk band Spiral.

Here’s a link to the track on iTunes….

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/by-all-means/id360530064?i=360530077

 

Here’s a link to some glorious playing by my dad….

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve been given as a musician is to listen to everything. All styles, genres and artists have something about them that you can learn and take forward with you on your musical journey. I often get asked to record or perform in a style that is not what I’m into but if I have awareness and appreciation for the style, I can write parts that will fit and compliment the track.

As I’ve got older, I have found that my tolerance for ‘new’ music has declined and I still find myself hankering for the old stuff and especially the music of my youth. I still have a huge soft spot for Madness and I finally got to see them live in 2007 which was more emotional than I was ready for!

I still listen to the 70’s jazz funk and recently purchased a CD copy of Dave Grusin’s Mountain Dance, to replace my old cassette copy. Whether it’s my childhood or my love of a good bass line, the funk still fans the little fire in my soul and I hope it always will.

It wasn’t Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson who invented funk you know!!