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Trentin Lee Manning by Brent-Anthony Johnson

Trentin Lee Manning is quickly becoming one of the leading young American bassists. Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio, Trentin first came to my attention in 2006 after he performed a small number of clinics in the Midwest US. Last year, he released “Tranquility & Tension”, a 5-song EP that showcases his “right on it” playing approach as it winds through his deep world experience. Though in his early twenties, Trentin oozes “Old Soul”, and his trio with guitarist/producer Rick Brantley and drummer Matt Gardner please the ear again and again through their rich interplay that defies musical categorization.

BAJ: You are an incredibly melodic player, man! You have listed
Michael Manring as your primary influence, and you nod heavily to Michael through your composition “Monkey” (one of my favorites!). But, let’s talk about your other musical influences and how they’ve shaped your global musical impression.

Trentin L. Manning: I have always been drawn to all styles of music I try not to limit myself just to one genre. There are days where I will listen to TOOL, The Roots, and P-Funk and then next day I’ll listen to Gospel music or Blue Grass. Michael Manring was a huge influence, but so were Abraham Laboriel, and many others. My wonderful Grandparents raised me, and, man, they have great taste in music. They told me when I first picked up the bass “Be limitless in what you listen to and play”. For those of you who compose or want to compose music ,”Be limitless”! Most of the world’s best composers live by this.

BAJ: Would you consider yourself “self taught”? Also, how do you articulate your knowledge of music theory while you’re playing… or do you?

Trentin L. Manning: I picked up the bass when I was 13, but didn’t get lessons until two years ago, or so. Being self-taught has some good points – like, you listen and look at everything differently. I learned a lot from watching the bass players at church, and instead of asking questions I went home figured it out for myself! Trust me, I would not change that for anything! I learned and perfected personal technique when I started learning from Matthew Human (who studied with Jeff Berlin). He taught me a lot about music theory and proper technique. I do apply theory to my playing. But, I don’t let theory take me over. As you know, theory is in the back of our minds, so what we’re playing feels natural. I find, when soloing over chord changes, I freak myself out if I think about theory too much! So, it seems that I play better when I play from the heart… with just a little bit of mind. The bottom line is that it is good to have a concept of your own personal technique and to learn proper technique. Those two things make me a stronger (and much more interesting) player.

BAJ: You have been doing more solo presentations of your compositions of late. Is this a seasonal thing, or are you abandoning you trio concept? Along with that question, where do you find yourself most comfortable, musically speaking?

Trentin L. Manning: My first album “Tranquility & Tension”, was written when I was about 14 or 15 and each was composition as a solo. I wasn’t thinking about a band setting before I started recording my producer Rick Brantley and we decided to use more instrumentation on the album because the songs needed “more”. I am mostly known as a solo bassist but, I also love playing in the pocket! Not only do I love playing in groups… its what pays the bills!! My next album will be different as far as the presentation on “Tranquility & Tension”. As my comfort zone, I feel great about being either a “solo guy” or being a “pocket guy”. I have to have that balance in my life and I learn so much from both sides of that coin.

BAJ: Cool, man! Please describe your composition process?

Trentin L. Manning: Sometimes ideas will come to me when I least expect it, and then there are other times when it takes a year or two just to feel like this is what I’ve been blessed to hear. When I am writing a song I have to imagine myself listening to the radio and would I stop to listen, or would I say, “this song sucks”, and turn the dial… you will just learn when a song is a great song! You have to try to listen with different ears and always be open to constructive criticism. This is what helps my composition process.

BAJ: What’s the musical landscape in Cincinnati like these days?

Trentin L. Manning: There is a lot of great music in “Cincy”, and in the Midwest, period! Some of my other influences are local guys like harp guitarist and local legend Eric Loy and Victor “the Vic” Smith. Both of these men shaped me as a player. I was in Chicago last month and played Jauqo III-X ‘s “Monster Of Bass”! Wow!!! There were so many great players like Doug Johns, Jauqo III-X, Bill “The Buddha” Dickens, Mike Sterling, Will Howard and Andy Deluca. There is a lot of music in the Midwest that gets overlooked.

BAJ: As you’ve evolved as a player, what are those facets of your practice regimen that have remained throughout the years you’ve been playing?

Trentin L. Manning: It depends on what I’m trying to accomplish. If I ‘m hired to do a gig I’ll work on what those things that particular gig needs. Lately I am working my sight-reading and also on transposing traditional pieces to new solo bass arrangements.

BAJ: Okay… Let’s get to the New Demo you sent to me recently! You open with “Soulful-Joyful” which is a beautiful piece of music! There is also a piece called “The Rebirth”. Let’s chat about your new direction and your immediate goals for your career and composing practices.

Trentin L. Manning: Thank you I am glad you like those 2 pieces! Both compositions will be on the new record, but I don’t have a release date yet. My new direction is: Simply put, I believe is what I believe to be God’s will for my life. People often come to me after a solo show and tell me, “Your music is so beautiful and it really touched me”, and that pushes me do what I do. I want to share music that means something, and I feel that is a good goal to have in life.

BAJ: Music is, indeed, a Language. What are you hoping your listening audience will hear you saying?

Trentin L. Manning: Truth and purity in some pieces… confession and desperation in other compositions. Hey, love me or hate me… at least you’ve heard of me, right?

BAJ: What does the next 3 months of your musical journey entail?

Trentin L. Manning: A lot more writing! I’m also working with Luthier Pete Skjold on a custom 6-string fretted instrument. The idea is: Pete is making me a super bass guitar for my solo side and pocket sides that will give me my own sound that is memorable! Bassist David Dyson is also an endorsing artist for Skjold. I am also with Accugroove Cabinets and I am booking more solo shows with some guest musician like Drew O’Dom, Corey Cater and many others. Please stop by or and drop me a line!

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