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John Patitucci – Jazz Icon Goes Interactive by Rick Suchow: Bass Musician Magazine December 2012



John Patitucci – Jazz Icon Goes Interactive by Rick Suchow: Bass Musician Magazine December 2012… We are bass players living in the Internet age. Information comes to us from everywhere, a click away, in an instant. We all travel the same musical frequency, ask the same questions, but suddenly the amount of access we have to potential answers is staggering, especially in contrast to life back in the day when there was only one or two monthly print magazines dedicated to our instrument. This little low-end world we inhabit hasn’t been little for quite a while, and in fact seems to be booming exponentially. Anything you want to know, you can search for. That’s the upside.

Of course, there’s a downside: it seems like everyone is out there teaching us how to play. There is no shortage of folks offering to educate, advise and instruct, regardless of their qualifications. They can do this because in the Internet world, if you call yourself an educator, you get the free veil of authority that comes with having a forum. So what’s a knowledge-seeking bass player to do? The short answer: seek out those you know, those who inspire you, those who have proven themselves to be worthy of your time.

When it comes to jazz bass, few are more known, more inspiring and more worthy than John Patitucci. Since exploding onto the scene in 1985 with Chick Corea, John has pushed the bass envelope a little further than most everybody else, on both electric and acoustic, and on both the performance and educational fronts. He is the bassist’s bassist, lending his talent to a long list of stellar artists that includes George Benson, Randy and Michael Brecker, B.B. King, Natalie Cole, Dizzy Gillespie, Sting, Herbie Hancock and many others. He’s a two-time Grammy-winner (nominated 15 times) who has released 12 well-received solo albums, and has been a member of Wayne Shorter’s group since 2000.

In addition to his phenomenal playing and recording achievements, Patitucci has been at the forefront of bass education for years. He’s taught numerous seminars at prestigious music schools worldwide, been involved with The Thelonius Monk Institute Of Jazz and the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead program, and was the Artistic Director of the Bass Collective– a comprehensive school for bassists in New York City which was the first of its kind. In 2002, he began teaching at The City College of New York and was appointed to Associate Professor of Jazz Studies three short years later. This year he joined the Berklee College of Music as Artist in Residence.

All of this makes even more remarkable John’s recent decision to hook up with the forward-looking company Artist Works and create a platform that allows him to offer affordable lessons to any bassist on the planet with Internet access. Which begs the question: If you have the opportunity to study jazz with John Patitucci, why in the world would you ever want or need to go elsewhere? I caught up with John earlier this year to discuss this latest eye-opening development in his long history of connecting with bass students, and spoke with him on a bunch of other topics as well. This is the first of a two-part series; be sure to read next month’s January issue of Bass Musician for Part 2 of my interview with this gifted giant of bass.

I’m excited about this new interactive online bass school that you’re involved in. What’s the basic concept?

Well, it’s not something that I came up with, I was approached by a company called Artist Works, out of Napa, California, started by David and Patricia Butler. David was somebody very high up in AOL at the beginning, and he did extremely well there. But he was also an amateur jazz guitarist, and at the time he was interested in studying with someone on the east coast, and because he was not on the east coast it was hard for him. So he was trying to figure out a way for people to study with those who they really desired to study with, and who they looked up to in terms of methodology and everything, even if they weren’t in the same geographical area. And he also did a lot of research into the way people learn, how they thought about it, and it’s really brilliant what they came up with.

As far as the concept, the first thing that has to happen is that the teacher has to put in a colossal amount of work, and put online an entire curriculum that can be streamed 24/7. So that’s what I did, I basically gave birth [laughs]. It’s a jazz curriculum, the one that I did, and it starts from beginning acoustic bass — you know, like, here’s the bass, these are the strings, this is how you stand, and then from that, all the way through beginning, intermediate, and advanced.

So it’s a series of videos that you did?

Yeah, like little tutorials, and they’re all bite-sized so that they deal with things very systematically and very succinctly– but clearly, and then people can digest it at their own pace.

What’s the interactive part?

Well, here’s the deal. The person looks at all the content online, the whole curriculum’s up there. So they start, and at various strategic points in the curriculum I call for a video from them. It will say if you’d like to, if you’ve been working on this material, now might be a good time for you to send me a video so I can see how you’re doing. And then they send in videos, and I give short responses, maybe 5 to 10 minutes. Now, each response is then put up on the site, so people can learn from everybody’s questions, and if people keep asking the same sorts of questions– which is invariable– then I can refer them to other videos. I dealt with this question with so and so on this date, so refer to that, and then if you’re still having problems, send me another video and I’ll try to help you.

So it’s pretty well thought out, and this whole idea of the “video exchange”, as they call them, between the teacher and the student… all those video exchanges get posted on the site, so anybody who subscribes and pays the yearly fee can look at any exchanges. They can find answers to all kinds of questions, coming from different angles– because everybody sort of learns differently, and people have different struggles, as we all do with the instrument. And it’s very inexpensive when you figure it out over a year, it’s like a fraction of what it would cost to study with me privately, you know? I think what you pay for a year gets you maybe a couple of lessons if you came to my house. [laughs]

It sounds really cool.

Yeah, it’s pretty cool, and it’s pretty cost effective for everybody I think.

When did you put all this together?

I did the curriculum a while ago, the end of last summer maybe, but then they were also filming a pop/electric bass curriculum with Nathan East, and wanted to have both of those curriculums up to launch the bass academy. So I had to wait, and then Nathan did his whole thing, and now he’s done.  So the Bass Campus now consists of myself, Nathan East, and a girl named Missy Raines who did the bluegrass curriculum. Her stuff was already up, she was the first one they signed I guess.

But there’s all kinds of other instruments too, like Luis Conte just signed a phenomenal conga academy. So each instrument has its own academy, and each person has their own little school.  And then the guys that log onto your site have an opportunity to communicate with each other, so that they can create their own community as well.

What also will happen from time to time is that I’ll send little messages from the road, or interview people, and put it up on the site. I already recorded some really nice footage playing with Brian Blade on drums and Jon Cowherd on piano, some trio-recorded videos, that are all going to be sprinkled in there.

It seems like a lot of work on your part.

I did a lot of work, man. I went out there and it was like, you know, a week solid of filming. And a lot of pre-production before that. In fact today I’m getting a tutorial with the tech guy there,  I’m gonna set up my little video room downstairs. I have a little studio in the basement, and I’m gonna set up my little backdrop, play on all the equipment and get ready for the technical part about all this. Which is yet another time issue, because I’ve gotta kind of get up to speed and learn all the equipment.

Being a bass educator has obviously been a big part of your life, including your work at The Bass Collective and at City College.

Yeah, and I just stopped after ten years, I’m leaving City College because (pianist) Danilo Perez has stolen me to be an Artist in Residence at Berklee. So I’m doing that.

You had taken over for Ron Carter back at City College?

Well, I sort of came in after him as the bass teacher.  I didn’t take over all his duties because he was the head of the grad department. I was part of the grad department, but I’m not a person who relishes administrative duties.

I’m sure. Where does your passion for teaching come from?

You know, I guess God put it in me. When I was a teenager in high school, I was teaching electric bass lessons out of my house. My mother used to laugh, because I was 15 or something, and guys in their 20’s were coming to take lessons,  so it was kind of strange. My brother was my first teacher, and I had a mentor in Chris Taylor, who lives in Northern California, and we’re still really close. He’s a great musician, he’s always been in my life to be a mentor and a help. So right off the bat I had a couple of great teachers and mentors. And then as I grew and got to play with different people, the older masters also passed on a lot of stuff. So I guess because they were so generous with me, I felt like I should be sharing all that as well.

So you do come from a musical family?

Well, only starting with our generation, my brother’s generation. Before that there were people who were talented, but no one ever did anything as a career with music at all. My mom and dad sang, they had good ears, but they didn’t really study music or anything like that.

When it comes to teaching, what are some of the concepts you like to stress to your students?

Well, the more I’ve taught– and I’ve taught now to different age levels and at the university level– I would say that, if you had to break it down to two elements, probably rhythm and sound are the two most primary things that have to happen. Your rhythmic concepts, your control of rhythm on your instrument, and your ability to communicate rhythm, because rhythm is what most people respond to in music. They don’t necessarily understand all the inner workings of harmony and melody, and all the theoretical aspects of it, but they do feel rhythm. And that’s how you communicate with other musicians around you and also the audience. That and sound. Sound means a lot of things, not just pitch, but sound in terms of the quality of your sound, the fullness of your sound, your touch, your ability to play with dynamic range, different sounds and colors on your instrument.

Those are huge things. Those two are primary things, because let’s just say that you didn’t have those two things, but you knew a lot about theory and you can wiggle your fingers quick and all that, but you didn’t really have good rhythm and you didn’t have a great sound. It really wouldn’t have any impact, compared to if you did, you know what I mean?

Right, of course.

So rhythm for a bass player is huge. It’s a big job we have, we’re in the rhythm section. The drums and the bass have the ability to change the music for the better rhythmically, and anchor it, and provide a foundation, and also inspire change and be catalysts for a lot of creativity in the music as well.

So those two elements are at the heart of my approach. And then also, you know, the normal technical things. If you’re going to play the bass you have to work on feeling comfortable really knowing the entire neck, and the traditional methods of learning your scales and arpeggios still apply. I try to make it interesting for my students.

When you’re teaching students about soloing, what are some of the most common mistakes you see bass players making?

Well, a lot of times people think it’s all about licks and stuff like that. They don’t have any ears to hear the harmony yet, and really, improvising is all about ear training. You can’t play what you don’t hear, and you don’t really know harmony until you can hear it deeply within and know the sounds, and know how to react to and play off of the sounds without having to get stuck. Your ear has to be strong, otherwise you’ll be a strictly theoretical improviser,  and that really never moves anybody. If you know all the right scales, and you know what goes with what, but you can’t hear it– it’s a big difference in the way you’ll sound.

If you can hear the sounds and react to them, like colors, and get a sort of visceral feeling response from the sounds, then you’ll be making melodies and statements quicker than if you just know the cerebral, theoretical information, because that’s not enough. And actually, if someone has ears and can hear the stuff and react, they’re gonna be much farther along than the person who knows the theory but doesn’t have the ears. I’d rather the person have really good ears and be able to hear the stuff, you know? That’s much more important to me than whether they actually know the names of what they’re playing. Because I’ve had students that know the names of everything, and they sound terrible because they don’t have good ears. That’s putting it bluntly, I’m sorry for being blunt.

And that applies to all of us, it applies to me too. If I just know cerebrally the theory behind a certain sound, but I’m not really hearing it, then what I play is going to be less informed and be more like a textbook than actual melodies.

Part Two appears in next month’s issue of Bass Musician.

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Bass Videos

Brian Bromberg, Paying Tribute to Scott LaFaro, April 2024



Brian Bromberg, Paying Tribute to Scott LaFaro, April 2024 - Header

Brian Bromberg, Paying Tribute to Scott LaFaro, April 2024…

Brian Bromberg, Paying Tribute to Scott LaFaro, April 2024

Brian Bromberg is one heavy-hitting bass player and I am in awe of his talent as one of the few individuals who is equally proficient on electric and upright bass.

You might remember our conversation back in 2018 when he released his powerhouse Funk album. Brian’s “A Little Driving Music” album is a staple on all our road trips and his Jaco and Jimi Hendrix tribute albums are mind-blowing… and I could go on and on.

Now, Brian has taken on the arduous task of producing an album paying tribute to the late, great, Scott LaFaro. He teamed up with pianist Tom Zink and drummer Charles Ruggiero and Brian delivers a commanding performance on upright. The entire album is a masterpiece and a real treat to listen to track after track.

Join us as Brian shares the details behind this project and more.

Photo, Michel Bocandé

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FB @BrianBrombergBassist

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Leland Sklar, Over Half a Century of Bass, March 2024



Leland Sklar, Over Half a Century of Bass, March 2024

We all have enjoyed Leland Sklar’s Bass lines for over half a century.

You might remember that we had him on our cover back in 2017 and did an update when he launched his book “Everybody Loves Me” in 2020. It was exciting to hear that The Immediate Family had got back together in the studio to work on their own music in 2019 and are now up to two albums.

Just last December, Magnolia Pictures released a documentary titled “Immediate Family” where we got a behind-the-scenes look at the massive contributions Danny Kortchmar, Waddy Wachtel, Ross Kunckle, Leland Sklar and Steve Postell have made in countless songs that are the very essence of our daily personal musical soundtracks. Seeing the astronomical roster of performers they have supported over many years is very eye-opening. It is a must-see for any music lover!

Now, I am thrilled to bring you a special chat with Leland Sklar where we go more in-depth into the bass side of his musical journey.

Photos: Header, Rob Shanahan – Cover Photo, Jay Gilbert/Chris Schmitt

Skin In the Game – 
from new album Skin In The Game

The Toughest Girl In Town – 
from new album Skin In The Game

Fair Warning – –
from the self-titled album The Immediate Family

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Ricky Phillips, STYX Bass And More – February 2024



Ricky Phillips, STYX Bass And More, January 2024

Ricky Phillips, STYX Bass And More…

This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram

I have always been a huge Styx fan. Their music kept me awake during countless nights studying and gave my imagination a place to escape when I had a moment to take a break. 

I had the immense opportunity to chat with STYX bassist Ricky Phillips for our August Cover in 2017 and follow his projects as time passed. Now, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to catch up with Ricky as he has been super-busy over the past six years. 

Join me as we take a deep dive into the band’s most recent album “Crash the Crown” and EP “The Same Stardust”. Ricky shares some insights into the herculean team effort behind the scenes and the musical process that keeps them ever so busy and how he has updated his sound. 

Without further ado… Here is Ricky Phillips!

Photo: Jason Powell

“Crash of the Crown” lyric video

“Reveries” lyric video

“Save Us From Ourselves” lyric video

“Sound the Alarm” lyric video

“Too Much Time On My Hands” Zoom video 2020

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FB & IG @styxtheband

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Jeff Pilson, Foreigner Low End – January 2024



Jeff Pilson - Bass Musician Magazine - January 2024

Jeff Pilson, Foreigner Low End – January 2024…

Those of us who were around back in the 70’s remember how certain songs on the radio resonated with us. It turns out that many of these iconic melodies came from Foreigner and they were part of our personal soundtracks! 

After all these years, the band is going as strong as ever with Jeff Pilson firing away on bass midstream into a 2-year farewell tour. 

I am excited to be able to bring you all the details about Jeff’s musical Journey, the farewell tour in progress, how he gets his sound and his plans for the future.

Cover Photo: Krishta Abruzziini / Video Photos: Krishta Abruzzini, Karsten Staiger, Gina Hyams

For more news on FOREIGNER and upcoming Farewell Tour dates, fans can visit:
Also on FB @officialjeffpilson

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Rodney O’Quinn, Rockin’ Hard Through the Years – December 2023



Rodney O'Quinn, Rockin’ Hard Through the Years – December 2023

Interview With Foghat Bassist Rodney O’Quinn…

Rodney O'Quinn - Bass Musician Magazine - December 2023-v2

Many rock fans have enjoyed music by Foghat, who originally formed in London back in 1971.

Over the many decades of playing, the band members have changed, leaving behind only Roger Earl as the only original member. Bassist Rodney O’Quinn left the Pat Travers Band and joined the group in 2015 and has been laying down the low end for this iconic quartet keeping the Foghat legacy alive. With a new album titled “Sonic Mojo” which dropped on November 10th, the band is as busy as ever and there is lots of very tasty music to come.

Join me as we learn of Rodney O’Quinn’s musical journey, how he gets his sound, and his plans for the future.

Jake Coughlin
Video Thumbnail, Tom Apathy
Photos used in the video: Kerry Quinn, Chuck Lanza, Kim Granger, Kenneth Strohm, Jake Coughlin, Jay Jylika

1st Single from Sonic Mojo – Official “Drivin’ On” 

2nd Single from Sonic Mojo – “She’s a Little Bit of Everything Official Video

 “Road Fever”- California Mid State Fair – Paso Robles, CA – 7-27-22

“Stone Blue” – Rodney O’Quinn Bass/Lead Vocals – Don Odell’s Legends – Woonsocket, R.I – 10/15/22 – The Stadium Theater

The Earl’s Court – Season 2, Episode 7: Funny Guys 

“I Just Want to Make Love to You” – CasinoRama – 6-9-23 

FOGHAT “Somebody’s Been Sleepin’ in My Bed” – Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT – 1/28/22

“I Just Want to Make Love to You” – California Mid State Fair – Paso Robles, CA – 7-27-22

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