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Victor Little by Brent-Anthony Johnson

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Meet Brent-Anthony Johnson –

Isn’t it a wonderful thing to be a bassist in this new Millennium? How wonderful it is to hear about new talent, and new breakout releases from the legion of bottom-dwellers who are changing the world, and how we listen to music, from its very foundation and floating to its angelic heights! I love being a bassist!! In this edition we’re chatting with Bay Area-based monster player, Victor Little – whose premier release “Inner Portrait” should be on every bass player’s must have short list! Throughout the offering, Victor’s kinetic melody lines weave and shadow box with his deep groove, incredible drum programming and effervescent keyboard sound choices!

Victor the man is much like his playing suggests: sagacious, discerning and generous! We talked, and laughed, and had a genuine hang in very short order! His stalwart 4-string commands the well-played and equally well-produced release. But, even more than that… the tunes are the true feature. “Inner Portrait” is an incredible disc, and you are going to enjoy meeting, Victor Little! You can read, hear, and see more at www.myspace.com/victorlittlemusic and at www.victorlittlemusic.com

BAJ: Vic! Hey man, what’s happening? Let’s begin by telling our readers about your Chicago upbringing, and when you first picked-up the bass guitar!

VL: Chicago is a great city for music from blues to gospel to funk to Latin music. There are so many different ethnic groups in Chicago that the music is virtually endless. I grew up listening to whatever we had in the house, of course. My mother liked Aretha Franklin and all that stuff, while my father listened to Coltrane and over jazz artists. My grandmother loved B3 Organ jazz. While my other grandmother liked gospel.

My first instrument was trumpet, before I moved to the bass guitar. My father played sax and other woodwind instruments, but not double reeds. I played some in church not much but enough to know that there were great musicians in the gospel world… including family members! But it was just how I happened to grow up, you know? Music, church, sports, art, girls… But, there was always music in my house from Aretha, Sly, Coltrane, Miles, Sonny Stitt… and a lot of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5! Actually, I would also add Kool & The Gang, and a lot of Parliament/Funkadelic. I remember I use to like Elton John’s “Benny And The Jets”, and I think I bought the 45 (laughter)! Later, I moved to the suburbs; where my grandparents lived, and I got into the rock thing – like Hendrix, Zepplin, Rush… I was always into Zeppelin, because I thought they were funky! Great bass and drums, right?!

When I went to the first High School I attended, the music teacher found out I played bass… and that’s when I was exposed to learning music formally – reading charts and so forth. We moved many times so I went to 3 different High Schools and experienced different people and different environments. During High School, I took bass lessons from this guy who played in the band Weapons Of Peace. I don’t remember his name… but he was baaaad! (Laughter) I remember going to his house on Saturday late morning and he was still in his robe having coffee! He showed me a few warm-up exercises and my hand started hurting! I was thinking to myself, “I don’t like bass!”

BAJ: What events brought about the writing, tracking and release of “Inner Portrait”? I mean, where were you in your career… and what understanding did you bring from your years of being a sideman to your project?

VL: Different things came together at the right time I guess. I was hanging with my friend, bassist Myron Dove, who is also an excellent bass player and producer! He and I met years ago and he mentioned that we should start working on a solo CD for me.

Anyway, I sent a tune to him to check out and he dug it… So the process of putting together a CD had begun in a very relaxed way. It was great working with a fellow bass player because I felt like he knew where I was coming from! Also, because he is such a great musician, Myron was able to help put things together, and the process was easy for me. Also, at that time, gigging and sessions started slowing down and it was just a good time to start a project under my name.

The one thing I thought about when bringing in different musicians was not to tell them what to play! I say that because when you’re a sideman, artist always tell you what to play… and I didn’t want to be that guy, you know? I feel that you can get more out of musicians when you don’t say too much. (Laughter) But when I wanted something played it was pretty easy to communicate with the players I hired. Ruslan Sirota (keyboardist/Stanley Clarke), for instance, would create most amazing parts from tracks I would send via e-mail! Only once did I ask him to solo in a “Herbie vein”, and it didn’t work! So I was like, “ok, I’ll just be over here!” (Laugher)
That guy is amazing! Dennis as well… amazing of course! I said to him, “can you do that Dennis Chambers thing?” and he cracked up! I mean all these guys helped me so much and made the process really easy for me.

BAJ: What situation, for you, is the “perfect” writing environment? Also, what tools do you reach for when you’re crafting one of your melodic pieces?

VL: For me the writing process happens kind of naturally. I sit and play chords on the bass and figure out melodies from there… That’s the process I use, and you well know everyone does that differently. I work a lot in Garage Band and Logic Audio at home. So, I find a loop in one of those programs and play chords or a bass line. Then I would write a melody… and then begin thinking about what basses to use for the tracks.

BAJ: You’ve mentioned that you were reluctant to “do the bassist as leader” thing, and you’re also outspoken about your connection with the 4-string bass guitar! Let’s talk about that, man!

While we’re at it… let’s talk about the instruments in your stable, and how your favorites help shape your tonescaping capabilities!

VL: Dude… there’s so many badass players out there, I didn’t really want to be one of those guys who’s trying to be another “solo guy”… because I’m not! (Laughter) I’m a bass player first… the other stuff comes after that for me. Even though I soloed on every tune that’s not the live approach I’m planning to take. I’m always thinking how I can make the music feel good – as opposed to making it feel like a bass player playing too much! The reason for me to come out with this CD is that I wanted to accomplish this in my career and generate more work opportunities! Mostly, I used a pair of F Basses and a couple of Alembics Basses. I also own a Fender Jazz Bass that I didn’t use this on this CD.

BAJ: Who are the artists you find yourself gravitating to in those areas of production and musical vision?

VL: So many, songwriters blow me away… Great singers, mostly! I mean, as far as bass players who have produced they’re own records there’s Stanley (first), then Marcus Miler. Marcus is just so musical! I really like other players… but Marcus, D’Angelo, Me’Shell are favorites. Man, this is a good question because I had to start thinking of so many producers and artist from the Beatles, to Stevie Wonder, to Sting, to Peter Gabriel, to EWF… I mean in the history of music there are just too many to mention.

BAJ: When you “sharpen the blades” (work on your chops) what are those areas you work on? Also, can you describe your general technique and approach to the instrument?

VL: Arpeggios and Bebop licks, mostly, I guest. I also work on thumb technique and playing through chord changes. A friend of mine from Spain stayed with me over Thanksgiving holiday, and he shared some Flamenco techniques that blew my mind! So I’ll be working on that for a lifetime… it never ends. You know really for the most part it depends on gig, and I’m not trying to recreate the wheel.

BAJ: What is an area you have worked hard to improve in your general musicality, and how have you built your musical vocabulary?

VL: I’ve been working on transcribing and ear training, lately. Luckily, I’ve been around a lot of music throughout my life, and I’ve just stayed open to learn what different artists have to offer. I work in a World-music project called Wobbly World and the band consist of guys from all over the World: Bulgaria, Morocco, Lebanon, Pakistan, Cuba, Venezuela, and the Bay Area. I’m working hard to play all those styles correctly… but it’s a real challenge.

BAJ: You worked in a wonderful-sounding family of chord changes for “Inner Portrait”! What are the chords you gravitated toward during the writing stage for the disc?

VL: I don’t know… The song “Inner Portrait” I uses #11 chords with some minor chords… and space. “People Talkin'” was based on a DMaj7 chord. So it just depends on the overall vibe I’m going for.

BAJ: Describe for our readers how you lead the sessions, and how you lead your band. What valuable life lessons have you learned about leading others to give their A-Level performance for your project?

VL: The reason I hire people is to get out them what it is they already do… and I try not to get in the way of that process! For me, what I want is for people to be comfortable playing my songs. So, I push my ego out of the way.

BAJ: What’s next for this project, and who will be playing with you as you tour in support of your music?

VL: I have so many people in mind! I know amazing musicians here in the Bay Area and on the West Coast, in general, that it’s ridiculous. Putting the band together is a challenge of personalities, styles, singers… and availability. And that’s just for a start!

BAJ: Thank you for taking a little time with us, man! Is there anything you would like to say in closing, to our readers?

VL: Learn the roll of a bass player! Be positive and set goals for yourself. Also don’t take this gift of groove for granted! Life is TOO short. Don’t underestimate yourself and work hard no matter how long it takes to get things done. Follow through… and practice, practice, practice!

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Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)

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Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)

Bruegel Masterpiece (1565) Inspires BITE Masterpiece (2023)…

Flemish Master Pieter Bruegel the Elder probably had many things in mind when painting his Hunters in the Snow in oil on oak wood in 1565. This masterpiece tells plenty of little stories about winterly pastimes and precarious livelihoods in the Early Modern Age. What Bruegel presumably did not have in mind was that this painting would, several centuries later, become one of the most popular ones in fine arts globally, displayed in a permanent exhibition at Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts) Vienna. The painting’s popularity was lately taken to a different level as it was replicated by hand to design an exclusive BITE bass.

An international art collector and bass player who regularly visits Vienna to immerse himself in the wonderworld of Kunsthistorisches’ Bruegel Hall asked BITE to replicate the painting on a bass body. BITE Guitars, an Austrian premium manufacturer exporting most of their basses to the US, has become renowned for colorful artwork basses, offering a range of manual and digital techniques. The firm’s art director Peter, a trained scenic painter of Oscar and Palme d’Or rank, specializes in photo-realistic reproductions. He also painted the bass for Robbie Williams’ 2023 world tour by faithfully replicating Robbie’s own stage design onto the tour bass.

Peter copied the Bruegel motif onto the bass body in minute detail, little twigs even by one-hair-brush. Positioning the rectangular image section on the body shape proved to be a special challege that he met by repositioning little elements, a bird here, a horse and cart there.

It all came together in a memorable video shooting in front of the original painting in the Museum’s Bruegel Hall: venerable fine arts, premium handicraft and groovy jazz tunes.

View video at the museum: www.youtube.com/shorts/2evdqfR6gUE

What’s the conclusion of BITE’s client, our Vienna, art and bass lover? “It’s a magical bass! When I touch the strings, I feel warm inside.”

Specs highlights:
Bass model: BITE Evening Star, the proprietary BITE premium model with inward curved horns
Pickups: 2 x BITE 1000 millivolt passive split-coils (PP)
Neck: roasted maple neck and roasted flamed maple fretboard

Price tag incl. insured door-to-door express shipping:
New York: 4726 USD
London: 3645 GBP
Berlin: 4965 EUR

Full specs available at bite.guitars/old-master-bass/

Bruegel Hall at Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna: 
khm.at/en/visit/collections/picture-gallery/the-best-of-bruegel-only-in-vienna/

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

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Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

Bassist Ciara Moser…

Ciara and I sat down for this interview a few months after the launch of her debut album, “Blind. So what?”

Blind since birth, she is a powerhouse of talent; she is not only a professional bassist, but also composes music, and is a producer and educator. I am just blown away by her talent and perseverance.

Join me as we hear about Ciara’s musical journey, the details of her album, how she gets her sound, and her plans for the future.

Visit online:

www.ciara-moser.com 
IG @ moserciara
FB @ ciara.moser

Photos by Manuela Haeussler

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Gear News

New Gear: Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar

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New Gear: Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar

Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar…

Black Ice Enterprises introduces Black Ice Boost and Black Ice Distort, small, battery-free devices that can be easily installed in a bass or guitar.

Black Ice Boost offers two selectable stages of up to 7 dB of boost, broadly concentrated in the midrange frequencies to add humbucker-like qualities to Strat®, Tele® and other types of single-coil pickups. Black Ice Distort is an overdrive module that can be configured to offer anything from slight overdrive to distortion. Both models are compatible with all passive guitar pickups and electronics (they’re not compatible with battery-powered active pickups).

Black Ice Boost (SRP: $119.95; MAP, $79.95) can be installed using several wiring options, including a simple “stealth” install that utilizes a single push-pull pot, and a dual-switch option that allows users to select between two different levels of boost. For those using the boost along with Black Ice Distort, a second push-pull pot or switch can be used to select a clean or distorted boost.

The Black Ice Boost module is approximately 2/3 the size of a 9-volt battery, and can be easily installed in most instruments with no routing or permanent modifications required. The tone of the instrument remains completely unaffected when the boost is bypassed.

In addition to use with popular single-coil pickups, Black Ice Boost can also be used with other pickup types. Use it to fatten up a P-90 style pickup, or add girth to a low-wind humbucker. Jazz Bass® players can use the additional midrange content provided by Black Ice Boost to produce a sound that’s reminiscent of a P-Bass® or soapbar-type pickup. Black Ice Boost is not recommended for use with high-output humbuckers and other dark-sounding pickups.

Black Ice Distort (SRP: $27.95; MAP, $21.95) is an overdrive module that can be configured for just a touch of grit, or a more aggressive grind, all the way to a 1960’s-flavored fuzz. While its battery-free circuit will never replace the more refined sound of a well-designed pedal, it provides handy, there-when-you-need-it access to a variety of fun old-school flavors, and is a great way to add additional textures to an already overdriven amp or pedal. Bass players will especially dig its raw dirty grind.

Like Black Ice Boost, the sugar-cube-sized Black Ice Distort provides a lifetime of tone with no maintenance or power source required. A variety of wiring options are included that let you activate the Distort via a switch or push-pull pot, or by easily converting your guitar’s tone control into a control for the Black Ice Distort circuit. It can be used in conjunction with the Black Ice Boost for a wide variety of useful tones.

Black Ice Boost and Black Ice Distort are now shipping.

Visit online at www.blackiceoverdrive.com

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

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TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @loritabassworks @meridian_guitars @alpherinstruments @phdbassguitars @mgbassguitars @mauriziouberbasses @utreraguitars @sugi_guitars @branco_luthier @blasiusguitars

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New Gear:  D’Addario’s New Humidipak

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New Gear:  D’Addario’s New Humidipak

D’Addario’s New Humidipak Absorb Protects Instruments Against Excess Moisture…

Utilizing two-way humidity control technology, D’Addario’s new Humidipak Absorb protects against damage to wooden instruments in environments with too much humidity. 

Humidipak Absorb allows players to safely return an instrument and case to the ideal relative humidity level. Using Boveda’s patented two-way humidity control technology, Absorb automatically soaks up excess moisture at a safe rate, re-establishing the right humidity level and eliminating the guesswork of revitalizing your instrument. 

Like all the Humidipaks before, using Humidipak Absorb is easy—there’s no dripping sponges or manual adjustments. All players need to do is put the humidification packets in the included pouches and place them in the instrument case, close the lid, and relax. The instrument and case will remain at the optimal 45-50% relative humidity level for 2-6 months. 

D’Addario’s other Humidipaks, Restore and Maintain, are still available for those who need to increase and sustain the humidity around their instrument. 

To learn more about Humidipak Absorb, visit ddar.io/absorb-pr 

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