'greatest bassists'??

Bass Guitar Magazine this month have a poll on the top 20 greatest players of all time. I was emailed to provide a list a while ago, and this is what a wrote – obviously they didn’t print it, as it was a) too long for a box-out and b) undermined the whole idea of such lists. But anyway, here were my thoughts…

Dear BGM,

here’s some thoughts – I haven’t been able to stick to your formula, cos I just can’t put players in an order like that – just doesn’t work with the way I see music at all. However, I thoughted I’d write a bit about a few people whose music has really moved me…

“While I couldn’t possibly put my favourite bassists in any kind of order, I’d definitely like to flag up a few whose music means a lot to me. Firstly, Michael Manring – not only is he the player than in my opinion has taken the physical playing of the instrument further than anyone else I know of, he’s a composer of some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard on any instrument. The bassness of it is irrelevant to the impact the music has, but hearing music that great just on bass is inspiring and makes me proud to play the same instrument. Tony Levin is another composer who writes great music with bass as his main writing tool. Whether playing in King Crimson, writing music for his own band, or doing sessions with myriad singer/songwriters around the world, his playing is always just right for the setting. Another big favourite of mine is Bernard Edwards – someone once referred to Chic as ‘The Beatles Of Disco’, but I think Bernard was more like the James Jamerson of disco – every note of every line I’ve ever heard by him is perfect. The timing, the sound, the feel and the note choice, absolutely spot on every time. At the opposite end of the musical spectrum, Mike Watt, formerly of punk legends The Minutemen and now with Iggy and The Stooges, is an outstanding bassist – adventurous, exciting, progressive playing, with a killer tone and more passion than a Jackie Collins novel. His three solo albums are all vital listening. And finally, Matthew Garrison – he already had a stellar jazz sideman career underway when he brought out his first solo album, but has proved to be just as good a composer, arranger and bandleader as he is a hired gun. Putting his incredible technical command of the instrument to the service of great compositions, both his solo studio albums thus far are chock full of some of the most marvellous bass playing I’ve heard in years.”

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