Press Quotes…

choice quotes

“Steve’s complex array of sound and rare, intimate
touch are rapidy turning him into one of the most
influential bassists in the world”
– bass guitar magazine

“Lawson’s writing and his phenomenal command of the possibilities of looping creates a compelling and surprising variety of sounds one would never imagine the bass capable of producing.” – JazzWise

“Steve Lawson is a brilliant musician. I’ve known about him and listened to him for many years. He may not be one of the most famous bassists but he is definitely one of the most talented.” – Victor Wooten

“Steve..I look at you as one of the best innovators in the bass community. The path you have chosen to follow is special and deep. If anyone has any issues with this, I feel for them and they should not be paying any attention the what you do. Just move on to a more mundane approach to the instrument and be happy. You are a gift and I love your playing and concept.” – Leland Sklar

“one of the most gifted solo bass players on the planet” – Ian Peel, Record Collector Magazine

“sensuous melodies intertwine and fall away with the intimacy of Talk Talk?s Spirit of Eden and the cinematic production values of Brian Eno” – Sid Smith

“Lawson’s solo bass compositions include palettes of lush sonic soundscapes and layers of ambient textures which have helped to redefine the art of looping and live performance as a solo bassist.” – The International Insitute Of Bass

“one of today’s most inventive and original sounding voices on the
electric bass. He is a pioneering innovator in the art of looping.”
– cliff engel, www.bassically.net

“a one man cosmic symphony” – Jerry Kranitz, www.aural-innovations.com

“Taking you from new-age jazz to Starsky and Hutch, this solo bassist is a must-see for anyone who’s ever
harboured dreams of being a professional musician. Catch him while he’s hot!” (4/5)
– ThreeWeeks

“Lawson is a master of a whole universe of sounds…a truly original talent” – JazzWise

“Steve Lawson is better than good… …[his] sheer virtuosity communicates an infectious love for the music.” – Good Times Santa Cruz.

“the life affirming stuff of dreams” Sue Edwards, Royal Festival Hall.

About the cds –

“What a beautiful recording! This is perhaps the best argument yet that the bass is a versatile, deeply expressive instrument and in the hands of a brilliant and visionary artist like Steve, is capable of making music of enormous emotional and musical depth. Please buy a copy and share it with your friends and family. I think they’ll thank you for it!” – Michael Manring.

“beautifully performed throughout” – Guitarist Magazine (uk)

“From the opening trills of ‘Flutter’ it’s clear that this is going to be an extraordinary album…
…Steve’s complex array of sound and rare, intimate touch are rapidly turning him into one of the most influential bassists in
the world.” – Bass Guitar Magazine (uk)

“one of the most refreshing, listenable and unpretentious albums i have heard in one long time!” – warren murchie, global bass magazine (Canada)

“i encourage the rest of the world to get this album and find out just how versatile a bass guitar can be – 10/10 “- cross rhythms magazine (uk)

“A excellent set of truly inspired improvisational music.” – aural innovations e-zine. (US)

“Frisell, Fripp and Garbarek revisited in unique ways.” – JazzUK Magazine. (UK)

“steve has something all his own, and with it a bright future as a solo bass performer and likely anything else he chooses along the way. pick it up now so you can say you know of him from the beginning.” – bass frontiers magazine (us)

“I highly recommend this CD! As Steve’s playing and concept grow he makes ever more gorgeous and engaging music that really demonstrates the expressive depth of the bass. The richness of this music makes for a rewarding listening experience on all levels and I think Steve’s approach represents a real step forward for the art of solo bass.” – Michael Manring.

“All in all, “and nothing but the bass”, is a most delectable and auspicious debut release from a very talented artist with the vision and ability to think and play outside the box. Definitely recommended listening” – www.ambientvisions.com (US)

“Take the playing expertise of Phil Keaggy mix in a healthy dose of the solo work of Robert Fripp and transfer that to a six string fretless bass guitar. What you have as a result of the best of both is a gentleman known as Steve Lawson.” – www.tollbooth.org (US)

“On technical terms alone, Lawson holds his end up alongside American stars of the lyrical bass suchas Victor Wooten or Michael Manring. But his work showcases not only prodigious playing talent
but also a thorough lack of self-consciousness about engaging with his listeners.” – Misfit City E-zine (UK)

“Using only a couple basses and a handful of electronic gadgets, Lawson skillfully paints sonic textures of ambient soundscapes with adventurous soloing and masterful layering.” – www.bassically.net (US)

” This is such a special album that a short review like this can hardly do it justice. The moody melody of ‘Need You Now’, the funky slap and pop of ‘Channel Surfing’, the atmospheric ‘Jimmy James’, all these and every other track are worthy of careful examination and I only have 200 words! ‘Chicken’ is an album that invites you to sit back,
close your eyes and get involved in it’s shimmering melodic beauty for an hour.” – Euphoria Magazine (UK)

“The marvelously musical result on Lawson’s second [solo] album, which tends toward a mellow, ambient vibe that sometimes recalls new age
music and ’80s art-rock, has as much to do with Lawson’s melodic sense as it does to do with his technical mastery.” – Bass Player Magazine.

“Folk music, Frippertronics, fretless Jaco Pastorius flights, country melodies and world-music trance epics mingle here, plus a few hints of past effects-pedal kings like Dean Carter or Pat Orchard. And it’s utterly inclusive music, lacking the smugness and self-love that blight many solo instrumental jaunts, and more interested in raising a happy smile rather than pulling an anguished ‘guitar face’ ” – Organ Magazine (UK)

“In summary, Lawson succeeds in showcasing the range of his instruments’ possibilities while also creating enjoyable and interesting music. The album’s real strength
lies in it’s variety, from Frippoid soundscapes, to jazz, and ambient space. – www.aural-innovations.com (US)

“On the last piece – “Pillow Mountain” – Lawson shows that, with a few electronic gizmos, even very “unbasslike” sounds can be produced. A
wonderfully melancholic fretless solo is played over an underlying mood reminiscent of Brian Eno. Beautiful.” – Jazz Dimensions Magazine (Germany)

“Only a musician with great talent and sensitivity can provoke such emotions, giving us these 52 minutes of pathos from solo bass and effects.” – No Warning e-zine (Italy)

“Steve Lawson [is an] innovative bassist dedicated to stretching the boundaries of bass. On Lawson’s And Nothing but the Bass album,
the simple boom-di-boom we know as bass is transformed into a spray of chords, arpeggios, hammer-ons and rangy melodic runs, flecked in harmonics and reinvented by effects.” – San Jose Metro (US)

“Lawson and Carr alternate playing Jekyl to the other’s Hyde. Dreamy pastoral visions interrupted by an invasion of drunk Martians. Steve’s sonic pallette allows him to blend beautifully, or create havoc, a dichotomy he clearly enjoys. A fascinating listen. A Little Nitrous Music anyone?”
– Ed Friedland, Bass Player Magazine (US)

“The music Steve and Jez make is reflective, intimate and powerful. It takes you on a journey that is
simultaneously familiar and exotic, engaging and serene.” – Michael Manring

” ‘Conversations’ finds pianist Jez Carr and bassist/loopist Steve Lawson deftly walking a fine line between
new age and avant-garde, drifting from meditative serenity to angular abstraction so smoothly that the seams
barely show. With its extended and often reflective feel, the highly-attuned duo improvisations allude to the
vintage eras of record labels like ECM or Windham Hill.” – Andre LaFosse (guitar looping genius)

“This is subtle music that demands your undivided attention.” – www.aural-innovations.com

“Close to perfection… …Magnificent” – No Warning (Italian e-zine)

“I can’t say enough to recommend this CD adequately. Just do yourself a favor and get it if you haven’t already.”- Ted Killian, Loopers Delight.

” There’s music here to appeal to a diverse crowd… from space ambient to jazz fans to prog fans. And I can’t imagine any musician who wouldn’t appreciate the results of what are actually solo performances. Recommended.” – www.aural-innovations.com

About Steve’s gigs…

“Most bass players settle for one distinctive tone and make it their own, yet solo loop guru Lawson is a master
of a whole universe of sounds all conjured from his fretless six-string bass. It’s a feat equivalent to juggling
half-a-dozen lit torches that not only he makes look and sound effortless, but his sense of otherworldly narratives
makes his a truly original talent.” – JazzWise magazine.

“Steve’s style is to look like he never knows what he’s doing in the first place,
he talks nonsense to distract you from how frighteningly good he is at what he does.” – www.bassworld.co.uk

“steve plays with a wonderful fluidity. his fingers glide lovingly, effortlessly over the fretless, the chording and intonation never less than perfect. whether a simple, relaxed glissade or a line demanding
huge control and dexterity, his fingers did the talking.” – michael cowton, journalist and author of ‘level 42 – the definitive biography’ (UK)

“[steve is] very much his own musician, and one capable of taking on any of the american virtuosi on equal terms… his improvised melodies…make for an assertive and individual new voice.”- dann chinn, misfit city e-zine (uk)

“…an evening of technological wonder and musical psychadelisizing.” – Santa Cruz Sentinel

About Steve…

“a gifted and imaginative bassist, whose melodic ideas and encyclopedic chordal knowledge are at least equal to many (currently) more well known artists.”- www.globalbass.com online magazine. (Canada)

“Bottom Line: Virtuoso technique + imagination + a vision + improvisation chops to burn = Steve Lawson.”- www.bassically.net (US)

“At last! Steve Lawson – a bassist with a commanding technique that doesn’t mean more notes,
but a truly good sound and great time, with melody a priority. Finally, lots of notes when needed.
How refreshing! Now all we need is a Steve Lawson that plays double bass – are you out there?” – Danny Thompson (double bass legend)

“Steve Lawson has got to be one of the most tasteful bassists I’ve heard in a long time and is certainly a creative
player who focuses on sound and the quality of individual notes, not to mention different ways of speaking with his
instrument.” – Jerry Kranitz, www.aural-innovations.com

“Somehow I had never heard of Steve Lawson before and while at the recent NAMM show a friend of mine dragged me
to a booth to check him out. When I heard Steve play doing a live solo with self accompaniment I was instantly
transported to somewhere beautiful inside, even though we were in Anaheim of all places. The CD does the same
thing for me…I listened to it driving through the desert and again at home…lovely,
wonderful stuff…I’m a fan” – Andy West

(solo artist, bassist with The Dixie Dregs)

“When I first heard Steve Lawson it made me go home and practice my bass again, it was inspiring to hear his use of bass loops with great melodies.
He doesn’t play like a bass player, he plays like a musician. I am going to rip off every idea he has ever had!!” –
Matt Bissonette (bassist to the stars!)

Review – And Nothing But The Bass (Bass Player Magazine)

“Compiled from various solo gigs, this CD boasts textures ranging from etheral to raucous, as Steve layers multiple loops and solos with the help of a Lexicon JamMan. The strictly live format allows an occasional wart, but there are many gems.”
– Ed Friedland, January 2001

Review – Not Dancing For Chicken (Bass Player Magazine)

(from the ‘Bass Player Recommends’ section of the February 2003 issue)

“Armed with a Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler and a Gibson Echoplex Digital Pro, solo bassist Steve Lawson craftily constructs each song’s texture by combining the standard color palette of bass sounds and techniques with the expanded technical palette of loops, layers, effects, and EBow electronic ‘bowing’. The marvelously musical result on Lawson’s second album, which tends toward a mellow, ambient vibe that sometimes recalls new age music and ’80s art-rock, has as much to do with Lawson’s melodic sense as it does to do with his technical mastery.”

(by Bill Leigh)

Reviews

Loading Quotes...

I’ve had loads of great press for my solo albums and gigs – have a read of some of it below!

[quick quotes page]

Behind Every Word CD Reviews –

Grace And Gratitude CD Reviews –

For The Love Of Open Spaces CD Reviews –

Not Dancing For Chicken CD Reviews –

Conversations CD Reviews –

And Nothing But The Bass reviews –

Gig Reviews –

Interviews –

The art of transcription…

Transcribing music is hard. Much harder than you’d imagine, if you’re trying to get it ‘right’.

TAB taken from the internet is, always, as you’d imagine, total shite. Without exception. It’s a limitation of the form – TAB just doesn’t contain most of the information needed to read a piece of music properly. It can show you roughly where on the fingerboard you can put your fingers to get sounds similar to the ones on a CD, but unless you’ve also got the CD and good enough ears to correct the handiwork of some inbred 12 year old from the mountains of Montana, y’all aren’t going to get very close to sounding like the record, and what’s worse, you’re screwed should anyone ask to play along and want some clues as to the key, the notes involved or any other actual musical information about it.

Sadly books often aren’t that much better. I’ve got a Jaco Pastorius transcription book. It’s rubbish. Total balls. lots of it isn’t even close. A student of mine brought round a Muse transcription book today. more nonsense. The notes were roughly right, but the TAB given for the tune we were doing (Hysteria) was utter nonsense, and would result in it sounding not much like the original, if you care about the feel of the tune. It only took me 30 seconds to confirm via YouTube that the bassist from Muse did indeed play this the way I thought he did and not the way it’s tabbed in the book.

And all over the country kids are parting with their hard earned pocket money for this crap.

See, the problem is that even if you get the notes right, there’s an easy way to write most things and a hard way – another student of mine has got a couple of transcription books of Jamiroquai stuff. There don’t seem to be many actual ‘inaccuracies’ in the book – a few minor discrepancies, but nothing beyond a reasonable margin of error. However, the way the stuff is written out is way way way more complex than it has to be. Staccato quavers written as alternate semi-quaver notes and rests rather than staccato dots being added to the notes. Rhythmic groupings within syncopated bars that make it tricky to read. Too much nonsense generated by Sibelius or whatever score-writing package is being used.

Look, if you’re doing transcriptions, the art is to make it so that the reader can read the music, not just to be ‘right’ but to be ‘good’. It’s all well and good telling me that ‘that’s what he played’ but is it what he intended, is it how he thought about it. those semi-quaver rests aren’t rests at all, they’re just the gaps between staccato notes. A very different thing, and the quavers are MUCH easier to read and understand, and make it easier to see what kind of groove it is at a glance.

It’s possible to over-transcribe too. when I was doing my transcription of Portrait Of Tracey for Total Guitar Magazine, I used a few different ones as source material. The one in the aforementioned Jaco book was nonsense, of course. The one in Bass Player magazine was so ‘right’ that is was impossible to interpret – bars of 11/4 and 13/8 where all that was happening was a ‘gap’ between the phrases. Was Jaco counting 11 beats, or whatever? Doesn’t sound like it to me. So put in one of those little hat things that mean ‘pause’ over the last note, and let people ‘feel’ the space and get on with actually playing music.

Transcribing should be totally accurate, but not pedantic. It’s a hard line to tread, and one where you have to keep in mind what is going to lead to the reader getting to the music accurately and painlessly? That’s why Sibelius or whatever is only ever as good as the person using it. It always needs correcting away from whatever it defaults to.

As a rule, Bass Player Magazine has the best transcriptions – they’re always worth a look, occasional attacks of gruesome pedantry notwithstanding. The ones in ‘Standing In The Shadows Of Motown’ are great too. fab stuff. Watch out for the dodgy ones, they’ll take you longer to suss out the lines on than it would to work it out from the CD…

Rock Stars losing the plot part 1

So Dave Mustaine from Megadeth is suing Dave Ellefson, formerly of Megadeth for mentioning that he was ever in Megadeth – huh?

So, let me get this straight, Mr E, who was in the band for a couple of decades, and is known as the dude from Megadeth, is not allowed to mention or have it mentioned that he was ever in the band????

What a dickhead Mustaine must be. I’d heard he’d converted to Christianity at some point – certainly some of their later lyrics would suggest that – but it clearly didn’t stop him behaving like a pillock. Why do people get caught up in this bollocks? If only he could see that as far as brand recognition goes, having the name of your band associated with ex-members in a situation where they are being celebrated for what they do (in this case, in an ad in Bass Player magazine) is good for business (and business is good).

All in all, this definitely looks like El Mustaine being twat again. His nuts behaviour and egomania are the stuff of Spinal Tapesque legend in the music world, and this just goes to add fuel to the forest fire that is his reputation for nobbishness.

In the news…

Just been sent a scan of a nice piccie of michael manring and I in the news pages of bass player magazine’s april issue – I’ll have to go buy a copy as soon as I can find one, but for now… thanks to Steve Barr for the scan

Soundtrack – right now, is the version of Highway 1 with Patrick Wood that is up on the MP3s page, if you want to join me…

And if you’re in London, do check out the new gig date added for this Sunday!

ah, yet more reviews and accolades! :o)

…did I mention that there’s a rather nice review of ‘Not Dancing…’ in the ‘Bass Player Recommends’ section of this month’s Bass Player magazine? well, I have now – and it’s rather good. I’ll get it typed up soon, and add it to the site…

I’ve also just added another review to the archive, this time from Aural Innovations – ostensibly a space rock site, but it’s a bit broader than that, with some very interesting stuff on it. And I also made it into their end of year best of list – don’t believe me? see for yourself!

I’ve just posted all this info to the ‘news’ page as well – why have I still got this and the news page? er, good question – I guess some people wouldn’t want to wade through all the crap that I write on here just to get the 2% of what I write that actually relates to music (weird though such a thought may seem to you and I), so it’s worth having a more coherent news bit I guess… All those stats on how people engage with websites and how long they stay on them and what leads them to delve deeper etc. are very scary – have I got it all wrong? are they running away in droves, wondering what on earth a ‘blog’ is… do I need a flash intro? Is that really irritating pop-up that invites you to join the mailing list a waste of space, even though my mailing list is growing three times as fast since I added it? all important questions methinks…

anyway, a few hours ago I was planning to do some house work. Then I got sidetracked by… er, well nothing to be honest. Just sitting around, reading articles from www.axisofjustice.org and talkbass.com.

So anyway, on with the tidying – what shall I listen to? er, how about… ah, here we go – ‘Jordan The Comeback’ by Prefab Sprout… excellent.

California III – this time it's serious

…or maybe not…

So anyway, 26th was the Echoplex Clinic at Bananas At Large in San Raphael, just north of San Francisco. Nice town, great shop. The clinic went really well, and I stole loads of ideas from Andre LaFosse’s tips on using the Echoplex – if you’re interested in the EDP at all, you HAVE to check out his site with the Echoplex tips page on it, and all his MP3s…

Anyway, the curry after the clinic was lovely, Scott Drengsen (solo bassist from the Bay Area) came along to the clinic, which was great, and Dan and I stayed with Anderson and Laura – very good friends who live in San Raphael. A lovely time was had by all!

Couple of days off spent with Billy-Bob and Mavis which was lovely, then onto the dates with Michael Manring along with the trio – the first of which was at Henflings in Ben Lomond (sounds Scottish, actually just outside Santa Cruz) – great venue, good turn out, lots of very cool music, and a bizarre moment when Rick Walker jumped on stage to join in with Michael Manring’s set…

the Next day we were up in Sacramento (this was a mucho-driving tour). Started out with a radio interview that Michael and I did for KVMR – very very cool station, we did a duo piece and then Michael did Red Right Returning (as featured, uncredited on the new Royksopp CD).

The gig was great – loads of people there, lots of CD sales, the line up was Michael and I (solo and duo) and Orbis (Mike Roe, Mark Harmon and Nick Willow). What a fun evening. It was also the venue owner’s birthday, and his name turned out to be Tim Looper – what a fine coincidence… :o)

Couple more days off, spent in Sacramento, then the gig at the Little Fox Theatre, with Michael and David Friesen. The three of us works really well as a show, so that was very cool. Lots of good people there, etc. etc.

The next show was probably the low-light of the tour – Cafe Du Nord, nice venue in San Francisco, had been looking forward to this. Got there, and noticed in the local paper that it was billed as a singer/songwriter night, with David Friesen and I listed as acoustic singer/songwriters! Huh? Turns out it was double booked, the guy who organised the acoustic night got really annoyed about it all, tried the cancel the night, it ended up with David and I playing truncated sets, and then the acoustic thing happening afterwards. All a bit miserable and a bit of a let down… Oh well.

Stayed in a motel 6 that night, then off to Santa Barbara – very nice town, had a wander round the farmer’s market. Clinic at Instrumental Music (is this beginning to read like bullet points???), which was great fun – the store manager is a friend from last year, Jamie Faletti, so it was great to see him, lots of great questions at the clinic, loads of CDs sold, all good fun.

Next night was another clinic at another branch of instrumental music, great turnout, the whole thing was videoed (bits of it may turn up here, who knows), some cool people there, nice curry afterwards with Jeff Kaiser (avante-garde composer and trumpeter), and some people from the shop. All good fun, good people, good food, good music. yadda yadda…

Ploughing on through busy schedule, the next day, I gave a masterclass at The College Of The Canyons, normally taught by fantastic solo bassist and jazz educator, Todd Johnson. Nice to hear from Todd afterwards that I’d just confirmed all he’d been telling them for weeks :o)

The second low-light of the tour was to follow – clinic at Jim’s music in Irvine – the shop hadn’t even put up a flyer in the shop for it, no promo, no-one knew, ergo very small number of people there. Bit of a waste of time, travelling 6000 miles to play in a shop that couldn’t care less if you were there or not. Still, kick the dust from your shoes and move on. etc.

The following night in Valencia more than made up for the Irvine balls-up. Great gig at Java and Jazz. Loads of people there, including lots of lovely Level 42 fans from the web digest. Todd Johnson, who organised the gig, played a fantastic solo set, then I did my thing, followed by some fun little jazzy duets.

The tour finished off with a nice little clinic thingie for Churchbassists in San Dimas…

All in all, a lot of fun. Well worth doing, loads of good gigs, tonnes of CDs sold, lots of good press (there’s a review of Not Dancing in the current issue of Bass Player magazine, and the loop trio gig in Santa Cruz made it onto the cover of the Santa Cruz newspaper…)

Hopefully I’ll be back in the US before long…