IT BEGAN THE WAY ANY GREAT concert should, fashionably delayed, with a long line of eager attendees snaking around the circumference of the Key Club on Sunset Blvd; it ran the gamut from tears to cheers, with some surprises tossed in; and by the end it ranked as perhaps the most memorable of the five BASS PLAYER LIVE! concerts held thus far in Los Angeles. The annual Bass Player LIVE! All- Star concert on October 20 launched with the presentation of Aston “Family Man” Barrett’s Lifetime Achievement Award by fellow Jamaican bassist Phil Chen and BP Editor Brian Fox. Barrett noted, “This is the first award I have ever received in America, and it’s such a great honor because it means the message of reggae music from Jamaica is reaching all the people of the world.” Chen, serving as musical director on guitar, then led vocalist/ guitarist Eric Walsh, drummer Oliver mesmerizing run of five Bob Marley classics chosen for their super-sub-hook Barrett bass lines, including “I Shot the Sheriff ,” “Stir It Up,” and “Could You Be Loved.”
Robert Trujillo and the Pastorius family brought Jaco's famed "Bass of Doom" for attendees to check out.
Eric Walsh, Phil Chen, and Aston "Family Man" Barrett blaze through a set of Bob Marley tunes.
Robert Trujillo digs into the Bass of Doom.
Phil Chen and BP Editor Brian Fox present a Lifetime Achievement Award to Aston "Family Man" Barrett.
Julius Pastorius, Hadrian Feraud, and Steve Bailey trade looks and licks.
Rock legend and Yes founder Chris Squire next received his Lifetime Achievement Award from a group that included bassist Stu Hamm and Brian Fox. In his acceptance speech, a grateful Squire acknowledged his influence, John Entwistle, offering to lead the way in soon honoring the late Who bassist with a posthumous Lifetime award. Chris then guided his ultra-tight sextet (vocalist Jon Davison, guitarist Johnny Bruhns, keyboardists Matt Brown and Claudio Pesavento, and special guest, Foo Fighters’ drummer Taylor Hawkins, who really turned heads with his powerful prog-rock stroke) through two songs from his 1975 cult classic solo side, Fish out of Water, as well as Yes smash hits “I See All Good People,” “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” and most rousingly, “Roundabout.” Meanwhile, the green room beneath the stage again became the prime location for once-in-a-lifetime gatherings of top bassists and unexpected vistors. This year, the elite list included bassist Henrik Linder and his Dirty Loops band mates, on a break from preparing for their November Asian tour with David Foster.
The final and perhaps most moving segment was centered on a Posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award honoring the late great Jaco Pastorius. Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo, whose purchase of the litigated Bass of Doom and funding of the upcoming Jaco documentary brought a great sense of relief and peace of mind to the Pastorius family, took the stage with Jaco’s son, Johnny Pastorius, to introduce a specially prepared 7-minute preview clip of Jaco [release date still unknown]. With emotions running high from the potent preview, Steve Bailey, Lee Sklar, Phil Chen, and Verdine White each offered some reverent words. Brian Fox then presented the award to Johnny, Mary, and Julius Pastorius. That provided a perfect segue to the annual all-star jam, with Julius jumping behind the drums, Trujillo strapping on the Bass of Doom (having earlier allowed guest bassists in the green room to try out the holy grail of groove machines), and Steve Bailey assuming his jam musical director role and counting off “The Chicken,” in tribute to Jaco. Steve, Robert, White, Brian Bromberg, Hadrien Feraud, Bakithi Kumalo, Bunny Brunel, and Damian Erskine each paid homage via fingers and from the heart.
The second and final jam tune, “Going Down,” was a nod to the numerous bassists lost in 2012, in particular, two ’60s session giants: Duck Dunn (who played on the Freddie King original) and Bob Babbitt. Bailey, with John Ferraro manning the drums, welcomed a broad range of basso talent, including Chen, “Ready” Freddie Washington, Gary Grainger, Quintin Berry, Igor Saavedra, and Bernhard Lackner. A postconcert party at the famed Rainbow Bar & Grill next door with the Squire and Pastorius entourages seemed fitting, given the rich rock bass history of the club, noted for regulars like Squire, Entwistle, Bruce, Jones, and Lemmy. At 3 am, all that was left for the bleary-eyed remaining was to wonder what next year’s concert would bring.
Brian Bromberg’s Bass on the Broadband broadcast live from its spot on the exhibit fl oor. bassonthebroadband.com
Alleva-Coppolo stacked its tabletop with a trippy paisley-finish J-style 5-string, and showed southpaws some love with a natural-finish lefty 5-string. allevacoppolo.com
Flip out! Attendees and artists alike checked out Ampeg’s PF series heads and cabs alongside its Heritage series B-15. ampeg.com
Tech 21’s new VT Bass 1969 head and Bass Boost pedals combined to form one of the show’s more righteous rigs. tech21nyc.com
Artist Works demo’d its new Bass Campus, which features instructors Nathan East and John Patitucci. artistworksbass.com
Yamaha’s venerable BB and RXB series of basses are old-school cool; its re-vamped Silent Bass is one of its most exciting offerings.usa.yamaha.com
Blast Cult doghouses were in the house—along with the company’s new Thirty 2 32"-scale electric basses. blastcult.com
Like a moth to…. Flame-top Spector NS-2 and Coda basses were among the most fetching basses at BPL. spectorbass.com
Bass Strings Online showed off some of its enviable inventory. bassstringsonline.com
Benavente brought six beautiful basses for us all to drool over. benaventeguitars.com
The folks at Diffusion Audio demo’d their killer Sandberg basses through the powerful Two Notes Audio Engineering Torpedo C.A.B. speaker simulator. diffusion-audio.com
Berklee College of Music handed out literature about its various courses of study while Bass Department chair Steve Bailey hopped from clinic to clinic. berklee.edu
The Carvin booth in a rare moment of calm; it would later host a heavy jam on Patrice Rushen’s “Forget Me Nots” with Freddie Washington and Sekou Bunch. carvin.com
Rotosound showed the strings that make them the choice of bass gods like Chris Squire and Steve Harris. rotosound.com
Pretty in Pink: DR Strings Neons always brighten the vibe. drstrings.com
In addition to its innovative TonePrint pedals, TC Electronic displayed its new flyweight BH250 head. tcelectronic.com
Aguilar brought a wide range of amps, cabs, and pedals, including its Tone Hammer 500, Tone Hammer 350, and DB 751 heads. aguilaramp.com
Dean Markley showed off the next generation of cryogenics with its new Helix bass strings. deanmarkley.com
Elixir Strings showed off its newly re-engineered coated bass strings. elixirstrings.com
Speaker tweakers of all shapes and sizes dug on Schroeder’s array of cabinets. schroedercabinets.com
Seymour Duncan was giving away Steve Harris and Jaco Pastorius model pickups from its Custom Shop. seymourduncan.com
Darryl Anders (right) and the Dunlop crew displayed their strings and their award-winning line of MXR Bass Innovations pedals.jimdunlop.com
Fodera brought its entire line of Standard basses, and announced the latest addition to the series, the Monarch 4 Standard. fodera.com
An array of Epifani rigs pumped out non-stop jams from the likes of Andrew Gouche and Robert “Bubby” Lewis. epifani.com
A limited editon Silverburst Jack Casady model was one of several sweet Epiphone axes on display. epiphone.com
A host of heavy hitters hung out at the Hartke booth, including (L–R) Phil Buckman, David Ellefson, Stuart Hamm, Frank Bello, Joe Vera, and Pancho Tomaselli. hartke.com
Leland Sklar was just one of hundreds of brother pluckers to check out Kala’s various U-Basses. kalabrand.com
From Artcore semi-hollows to Grooveline solidbodies, Ibanez had all its basses covered. ibanez.com
Hadrien Feraud and “Bubby” Lewis were just a few of the dudes to throw down at the Michael Tobias Design booth. mtd.com
Paul Reed Smith Guitars was in the house with a pair of gorgeous Gary Grangier signature basses. prsguitars.com
The Los Angeles Music Academy table lies in wait while Bass Department Chair Jerry Watts blows through tunes in his clinic with the John Daversa Big Band. lama.edu
Wood goodness! Ken Smith Basses brought a few of their choice 5- and 6-strings. kensmithbasses.com
La Bella may be best known for strings, but its new Olinto bass—modeled after an early-’60s P-Bass—was a big hit at the show. labella.com
Steve Bailey—flanked by BP Lifetime Achievement Award winners Alphonso Johnson and Leland Sklar—hold court in the Warwick room, which hosted performances all weekend long. warwick.de
Lemur Music brought the boom to the room with a number of exquisite upright basses. lemurmusic.com
In a building rocked to its foundation by low-end rumble, Chance Wilder Onody brought welcome upper-register melodies to the NS Designs booth. thinkns.com
Musicians Institute Bass Program Director Stuart Hamm played host to dozens of MI faculty and students, keeping the jams going all weekend long. mi.edu