I fell in love with the bass on first pluck. It wasn’t only that the instrument was comfortable in my hands, it was the role of the bassist that felt right to me.
I was never interested in flash - I was interested in laying down the foundation upon which the music was built. I was interested in subtly leading the listeners into the next change, the next section, the next musical thought, sometimes without even being noticed. I was interested in providing reliable rhythm, nuance, and an element of propulsion to the music. I was interested in fulfilling the bassist’s role in the ensemble and completing the big picture.
I never subscribed to the concept that a musician should take every opportunity to 'show what he's got' or grab the sonic spotlight whenever there's an opportunity to do so. I recall a conversation I had once with the director of the musical Cats. She, too, was a musician and I knew she took in everything - on stage and below it. After a rehearsal, I asked her if the bass sounded OK to her - volume, tone, etc. Did she like what I was doing. Her response was, "Barry, I hardly noticed the bass." Well, that was music to my ears. It meant that I wasn't too loud (which would have drawn her attention), I wasn't too soft (which would have drawn her attention), my timing was good (or it would have drawn her attention), etc. I was part of the ensemble, and didn't stand out because, simply put, I fit in. And I loved that. Say, the last time you took a car ride, how was cylinder #4 firing? You didn't notice, did you? Because your car was running smoothly and nothing was drawing your attention to cylinder #4. That's how I felt. Like a properly firing cylinder #4, doing my job and blending right in.
I’ve been at it a long time. I’ve performed on three continents, played for some very large crowds, recorded bass tracks for a Grammy-nominated album, performed with Grammy and RMI winners, and played at some venues that literally brought a tear to my eye simply because I was standing on their hallowed stages (Carnegie Hall comes to mind). I’ve played in duos and large swing bands, in orchestras and in pits. I’ve plugged in to a recording console and laid down more tracks than I can recall. I’ve worked with original material which had never heard bass before - it’s like being given a blank canvas and told to paint a brand new idea. And I love it all. Even when a gig is less-than-terrific, I look down, see there’s a bass in my hands, and I know something is right with the world.
I’m well-schooled, both from classrooms and from the “trenches”. In addition to playing electric (fretted and fretless) basses, upright bass and singing (low register, of course!), in a pinch I double on flute and piano - but I’m happiest with a bass in my hands.
If you need bass for a project, I’d be happy to help you complete your picture. Let's talk.