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Zon Guitars: The Ultimate Night of Bass

by Editor, Jake Kot

On Friday, June 8th Zon Guitars presentedThe Ultimate Night of Bass at The Jazz School in Berkley, California.  The concert, co-sponsored by ZON dealers Gelb Music and Bass & Beyond, as well as fellow manufacturers, Aquilar Amplification, Bartolini, and Accugroove was held as a benefit for JazzSchool.  A non-profit organization, JazzSchool’s mission, through the study of music, is to enrich the hearts and minds of players of all ages, levels and financial backgrounds.

Performing at the event that night was a stellar line up of Zon Artists including, Michael Manring, Ray Riendeau, Todd Johnson, Jonni Lightfoot and Damian Erskine. Armed with an arsenal of DAT players and looping stations, each of these extraordinary bassists performed pieces from their respective CD’s along with a number of rock and jazz standards.

The concert opened with a skit of “Mr. Roberts” from National Lampoon’s Radio Dinner where Mr. Roberts (sounding a lot like Mr. Rogers of the famed kids TV show), interviews a bass player — and thanks Ed for clarifying this reference!  It’s a hysterical classic that every bassist needs to hear.   After an introduction and welcome by Joe Zon, Damian Erskine got the show started with ” Spain” a brilliant track from his recent CD release “Trios”.  Following “Spain”, Damian teamed up for a duet featuring Todd Johnson on the piece “Footprints”.

Things then kicked into high gear with Jonni Lightfoot blazing through his compositions “Mr. Misunderstood” and “the Foot”. He then paired up with Michael Manring for an incredible version of his tune “Slither”. Closing his set, Jonni performed ” Flutterbys” another track from his CD, “Blu”.

Slapmeitser extraordinaire, Ray Riendeau took the stage mixing it up with his awesome technique, effortlessly blowing through tracks such as “Liquid” and “Living for the City”, a duo performed with Damian Erskine.  Ray concluded his set by knocking everyone out with his amazing rendition of “Kasmir”.

The evening took a slightly different twist when six- string master, Todd Johnson, took the stage.  Playing through standards like “Bye Bye Blackbird”, “Blues for Helen” and “You are My Sunshine”, in a chordal style and technique all his own, Todd simply transfixed the audience.  People just couldn’t believe all those voicing were coming from one bass.

As if all this wasn’t enough to satisfy the listening habit of any bass junkie, Michael Manring stepped on stage to push things way over the top. His mesmerizing performance of “Greetings, Earthlings” along with the soulful and passionate, “Enormous Room”, left everyone overwhelmed and completely in awe.

The Ultimate Night of Bass concluded with an all-star jam of ” The chicken”.  The guys all took turns doing a little “solo sparing” between each other, all in good fun and in recognition of the huge amount of talent they all shared on the stage that evening.  It was the perfect antidote for an intense night of masterful bass.

Note: Look for a CD and DVD of An Ultimate Night of Bass, to be available from Zon Guitars, late Fall 2007.

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