“THERE’S A FINE LINE between music and chaos,” says groove master Richie Goods, “and bass is often the deciding factor.” Goods better know—he’s the guy ex- Miles Davis drummer Lenny White relies on when he goes off into the rhythmic ether. Goods takes cues from his first bass hero, Bootsy Collins, and his overall idol, Victor Bailey. Leading his own group with Headhunter Mike Clark on drums, Goods is more apt to go off on his own excursions.
What’s going through your head when you’re playing onstage?
I often close my eyes, because that helps me listen through layman’s ears. I still feel like I’m part of the band, but I try to hear from the audience’s perspective to decide how to fit best.
What are you ultimately trying to achieve?
I try to create contrast with whatever the other players are doing. For instance, if we’re playing in 4/4 time and the drummer starts superimposing a three feel, it can be fun to match that. But then it’s no longer three against four; it’s just three, and now I’ve erased the contrast he created. I can help keep that contrast by staying home while he superimposes the three feel.
What else is key to laying down great grooves?
The strongest, funkiest thing you can do is play a strong downbeat. Bootsy Collins taught us bass players about the importance of the one, and he is the funkiest man in history. I try to get myself into situations like playing with Lenny White, where I have the freedom to stretch out if I want. But if I had to choose between soloing and laying down the bottom, I’d choose the latter. I get chills from a great groove, no matter what kind.
What’s a rhythmic tendency of Lenny’s that you’ve picked up on?
When we’re playing, you might hear funk or rock, but most of the time he is thinking in terms of swing. He’s really good at hearing triplets and their subdivisions.
What do you play if he goes way out and you find yourself unsure of where he’s wandering?
I understand what he is doing most of the time, but if I’m not sure, it’s most important to stay strong and clear. I have to provide something for everybody else to latch onto, because if I don’t know where Lenny’s at, the others probably don’t either. As long as I’m really strong and definite, then he can go out as far as he wants; I’ll be there for him when he comes back.
HEAR HIM ON
Lenny White, Anomaly “Anthem” [Abstract Logix, 2010]; Richie Goods, Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion Live at the Zinc Bar [Richman, 2008]
Bass Fender Victor Bailey Jazz Bass
Rig Glockenklang Soul II head, two Glockenklang 4x10 cabinets
Effects Boss OC-2 Octave, Line 6 Bass POD XT (one signal to house, another to head)
Strings DR Hi-Beams (.045–.105)