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Cameroon Born Bass Player Etienne Mbappe: Behind the Notes With Joe Darcy

As a kid growing up in Australia at a time when the “Information Super Highway” was just spawning and music was purchased in either tape or CD formats, hearing about new musicians was largely done by purchasing American magazines and albums, many of which were imported orders that took some 6-10 weeks to arrive. I still have vivid memories/mental scars of ordering Vinnie Colaiuta’s solo album from the Record Market on the Queen Street Mall (after reading about it in an American magazine) and having it arrive some 12 weeks later.

As an “adult” in London some …erm… years later the “Internet” and Google are a given in everyday life and have provided a mechanism for music fans to search/discover their own tastes at a fraction of the cost of the old formats. They have also allowed the fans to see and hear their favourites any time they feel like “surfing” and in some cases allowed the fan and musician to connect through direct contact with each other. With so much resource at the touch of that Google button we are almost in a position of having too much choice and taking this for granted.

When reflecting on this contrast, and even going back to the old days of records, it still blows my mind to think how the great players – simply too many to mention here – developed their incredible talents with nowhere near the resource we have available to us today. What is even more mind blowing to me is pondering the question of given the immense musical talent of the greats what sorts of players would they have become if they did grow up in the modern day digital resource world – Would Bach have been any better a composer if he could go online and learn/interact with other composers? Would Sgt Pepper have been the landmark it is if George Martin had the latest digital technology available rather than that 4 track tape recorder?

Another “luxury” of living in London is the sheer volume of great music that passes through here. We have Jeff Beck playing with his super group (Colaiuta, Wilkenfeld and Rebello) at Ronnie’s, this week whilst dropping through town at the same time includes people like Chick Corea, Sonny Rollins, Alan Holdsworth (with Jimmy Johnson) – so spoilt for choice. It also allows you to see other acts from countries such as France, Africa, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, with musicians who probably aren’t as well known as the ones just mentioned but are no less talented.

We have tried to combine elements of these points above and create another online resource to allow the musical community to see first hand how great musicians from all over the world approach the creative process of making music. Whilst we respect that this is a bass focused outlet there are musicians on the site outside the bass realm that offer equally valid insight. The one thing that we have discovered in the process of putting this whole thing together is that despite their instrument of choice or even musical genre there are many common characteristics that these guys share. It is an incredible experience to be able to sit down and have them tell you how it really is and what makes them tick. You can check out the video trailers on our site that includes bass players like….. well I am not going to tell you, you will have to go and check them out for yourself….let the names of Revis, Patitucci and Plante mess with your inquisitive side.

For this month I would like to draw your attention to Etienne Mbappe, one of the first guys we filmed in Paris. To the Fusion and World Music fans reading you may already be familiar with this name – he was one of the many talented musicians that graced the stage of the mighty Zawinul Syndicate and is currently playing with Steps Ahead. He is another of the great Cameroonian bass exports (others include Richard Bona and Guy Nsangue) that leave you with a dumb found stare of awe after witnessing their live playing. He has released his first solo album Misiya which, buy his own admission is not a “bass player” album, but with tunes such as Malinga Ma Loba, Ambass and Miso Ma Munami even the hardened bass heads will have their appetites satisfied. Also worth checking out is his previous work with Chic Hot (very HOT quartet!!! – if you are a bass player that likes a great drummer check out Roger on the first tune Satyagraha) and Ultramarine…..we have links from his page to these albums for those of you interested in checking this out. You read and discover more about Etienne on his intro page.

We would love to hear any comments or suggestions that you guys have on the content so please feel free to get in touch at www.behindthenotes.com. Also don’t be shy – get involved on the forum and be sure to subscribe to our free video podcast.

Hope to see you all online – a big thanks to Jake and the team for providing such a great outlet for the bass community.

Keep Groovn’

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