This month I chose to write about a phenomenal bass player, who is one of my major influences. He does not need any introduction, but I will post some biographical information in case you never heard of him.
Damian Erskine, a Berklee College of music graduate, is probably on of the most versatile as well as sought out bass players and musicians. He is very well known for his ability to fit into any musical style and situation.
Damian has performed in the studio or on the stage with the likes of:Peter Erskine • Teri-Lynn Carrington • Gino Vannelli • John Ellis • Shawn Pelton • Sveti w/ Marko Djordjevic • Luis Conte • Brandon Ross • Les McCann • Jeff Lorber • Vardan Ovsepian • Charmaine Neville • Jessy J • Luis Perdomo • Tony Furtado • Kate Schutt • Bobby Torres • Alan Jones • Patrick Lamb • Dan Balmer • Klezmocracy. Whether playing as a sideman or with his own group, he is known for his rock solid bass work, virtuosic solos and thoughtful chordal abilities.
This spring, Damian recorded a trio album with Peter Erskine and Vardan Ovespian (piano) at Big City Studios in California. This album is a personal milestone for him as he mentioned during our conversation. Recorded and immediately after the recording he went on a brief South American tour. I highly suggest this album because is very musical, it is beautifully recorded and as Damian said: “This is the album I’ve always wanted to be a part of”
The recording of this superb trio is to be released on Peter’s “Fuzzy Music” label in 2011 with dates in Europe soon to follow.
If you observe Damians playing you will notice how comfortable he is on the bass as well as how strong and rock solid technique he has. Damian already has a couple of instructional books available online. His latest book, “right hand drive” is a great instructional aid. It helps take the reader at step closer to beginning to grasp an understanding of “how it all works”. Add to that his discussion of chord connections and their applications, and chord shapes to enhance a visual perspective. Damians transcriptions are also included to examine and dissect, which is a well founded tactic recommended by almost every schooled player, and helps complete this books authenticity as far as being a trustworthy option to check out. I personally own Right hand drive as well as “Erskine perspective” and I highly suggest them to bass players of every level.
Damian’s unique tone is achieved by using Skjold basses. As Damian brought up, he was working with Pete Skojld for about a year in order to create the Damian Erskine signature bass – a bass that would fir Damians excessive needs. It features an extremely deep cutaway for 100% un-hindered access to the upper register_- over-wound pickups for a deep and rich tone_- brand new pickup mold design to incorporate the finger ramp into the pickup design (2 pickups in one pickup mold so ramp players will have a completely unified and comfortable setup)_- East pre-amps for complete tonal flexibility, very stable design and neck for action as low as you want it. _-Those features, coupled with some stunning good looks lead to a win/win situation.
In addition, Damian pointed out that he is also in works with GruvGear developing a double bass strap that actually works well and helps redistribute the weight of your bass on long gigs while also allowing you to keep the bass where you want it when playing. I am really looking forward to that one!
Lastly, I am posting three Damian Erskine groove transcriptions. Enjoy!