Questions for Mark Egan

I FIRST HEARD MARK EGAN IN THE late ’70s, in a college beer hall called the Red Barn in Louisville, Kentucky. He was playing with Pat Metheny—long before the guitarist became the Pat Metheny. Even then, Egan had a unique style on the electric bass, a truly original voice unlike anyone I had heard before. Egan went on to team up with drummer Danny Gottlieb, a fellow Metheny sideman, to form the fusion band Elements, which has recorded eight albums. Egan also spent over a decade with the legendary Gil Evans Orchestra, and has played for everyone from Michael Franks to Marianne Faithful and Sting. He has released several highly acclaimed solo projects, including Mosaic [Windham Hill], Touch of Light [GRP], and Beyond Words [Bluemoon].
By BassPlayer ,

I FIRST HEARD MARK EGAN IN THE late ’70s, in a college beer hall called the Red Barn in Louisville, Kentucky. He was playing with Pat Metheny—long before the guitarist became the Pat Metheny. Even then, Egan had a unique style on the electric bass, a truly original voice unlike anyone I had heard before. Egan went on to team up with drummer Danny Gottlieb, a fellow Metheny sideman, to form the fusion band Elements, which has recorded eight albums. Egan also spent over a decade with the legendary Gil Evans Orchestra, and has played for everyone from Michael Franks to Marianne Faithful and Sting. He has released several highly acclaimed solo projects, including Mosaic [Windham Hill], Touch of Light [GRP], and Beyond Words [Bluemoon].

Truth Be Told, Mark’s upcoming quartet recording, will be released in March 2010, and features Bill Evans, Vinnie Colaiuta, and Mitch Forman. You can check out Mark’s magical music at www.markegan.com.

What is your idea of a perfect gig?

A perfect gig would be two-thirds through a tour with a great band, decent sleep, and a great-sounding, sold-out venue of people who came to listen. After the show we’d have a great Italian meal and a short drive to the next show.

Which of your instruments would you refuse to sell, and why?

I wouldn’t sell any of my instruments—but especially not my fretless Pedulla MVP 5- and 8-string basses. They are very special to me.

If you could transform yourself into any other musician for a day, who would it be?

Among living musicians it would be John McLaughlin, and of past musicians it would be John Coltrane.

What is your third all-time favorite record, and why?

My third-favorite would be Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland. I’m a huge fan of Hendrix, and these recordings changed my perception of instrumental improvisation before I became aware of the jazz improvisation movement.

If you had never picked up a bass in your life, what would your day job be?

Oceanography. When I first applied to the U. of Miami it was in the school of Marine Biology.

When was the music business nasty to you?

When a record company didn’t pay mechanical royalties that were due. Then it filed for chapter 11.

Who are your heroes?

James Jamerson, Miles Davis, James Brown, Paul Chambers, Elvin Jones, Scott Lafaro, Jaco, Dave Holland, to mention only a few.

What was your most recent big mistake?

Playing with a big band and not having my eight-page chart opened up correctly. I was so lost, but I eventually figured out what had happened and got back on track.

What is your goal for the coming year?

Keep a steady flow of practicing, composing, exercising, reading, and experiencing nature. Plus, I’d like to record another solo CD and keep that outlet flowing.