In our continuing series where we ask drummers for their thoughts on bass players, we check in with tenacious timekeeper Gregg Bissonette. He's a veteran pro who's played with the best of them in nearly every genre of music and who knows a thing or two about what's required by folks like us who man the low frequencies. We recommend checking out the recordings he lists as favorites as well as some of the projects he's been working on recently.
What qualities do you look for in a bassist?
First and foremost, the most important quality for me is a bassist's groove; where exactly he or she feels the groove. If a bass player rushes or drags, that is not fun. I love it when bassists feel each note smack dab on with the click track (or right smack dab in the middle of the beat where there is no click).
Another important quality is that they have stylistic diversity and are equally comfortable and confident in rock, funk, pop, jazz, Latin, country, big band, and other traditional styles—which is the case with all of the bassists I’ve been playing with.
What are three of your favorite recordings of bass players?
Paul McCartney, on the Beatles' Help! [Capitol, 1965]; Jaco’s solo album, Jaco Pastorius [Epic, 1976], and Eddie Gomez on Chick Corea's Friends [Polydor, 1978]
What bassists have you been playing with lately?
I've been playing with my favorite bassist, my brother Matt Bissonette—who is a member of the Elton John Band—as well as Jimmy Johnson, Leland Sklar, Billy Sheehan, Jimmy Earl, Reggie Hamilton, Carlitos Del Puerto, John Peña, Will Lee, Richard Page, Chuck Berghofer, Mick Mahan, Hamish Stuart, Jimmy Haslip, Abraham Laboriel, Trey Henry, Neil Stubenhaus, Travis Davis, Michael Anthony, Steve Bailey, Victor Wooten, Brian Bromberg, and Nathan East.
Gregg Bissonette's credits include Toto, Don Henley, David Lee Roth, Maynard Ferguson, Santana, Gino Vannelli, Jeff Lynne, Ringo Starr's All Starr Band and many others. He will be appearing at the annual Drum Fantasy Camp in Chicago this summer (learn more HERE). Check out his site at greggbissonette.com.