Reggie Washington, Bass Musician Magazine Q&A
Bass Musician Magazine Q&A with Bassist Reggie Washington
Born In What City:
New York City
Current Band(s) I Play With:
Jacques Schwarz-Bart, Liz McComb, Poogie Bell, Malcolm Braff, Hervé Samb, Uri Caine, Fabrice Alleman, Médéric Collignon
Former Bands I Have Played With:
Chico Hamilton & Euphoria, Lester Bowie Mini-Fantasia, Mike Mainieri & Steps Ahead, Steve Coleman & 5 Elements, Branford Marsalis & Buckshot LeFonque, Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor, Jean Paul Bourelly, Don Byron, Screaming Headless Torsos, Meshell Ndegeocello, World Saxophone Quartet, Cassandra Wilson, Ute Lemper, B-52s, Chris Joris & Bob Stewart.
CD’s I’ve Released/ Been a Part Of:
As a leader; “A Lot of Love; LIVE!” (2006) & “FREEDOM” (2012) both on Jammin’ colorS Label. To date I’ve recorded on close to 70 CD’s.
Describe The Way You Play Bass:
I play bass with a purpose; I play for the good of the music. Whatever it needs, I give. I listen… it tells me what’s needed…& I put FATT BASS on it. Simple.
What Made Me Decide to Play Bass:
Someone else decided for me! Thank the Most High for conductor Anthony Diaz!! He took me out of the cello section my freshman year in high school (’76) “just for a few months” to help the bass section & I never went back! Just after that fateful day, my brother jazz drummer/historian Kenny (Washington) started to bring a young Marcus Miller to our house to learn about jazz on the weekends. I would sit around & listen to the records being played & mess around on Marcus’ Jazz bass. Also two good friends from my neighborhood (Staten Island), Dave Inniss & Herman Hill gave me the opportunity to play their basses until my Mom got me one!
That’s hard to say since there have been so many influences. First & foremost it’s been my father (Charles) & my brother Kenny. EVERYDAY music was being played in my house!! …Jazz, classical, gospel, R&B, Latin, samba, etc.
In the 60’s & 70’s there was a lot of music happening! We had a HUGE record collection. We also had great musicians coming to our house. My brother was a gifted young drummer & guys like Jimmy Owens, Reggie Workman, Dizzy Gillespie, Rudy Collins & Jimmy Knepper were coming to our house to sit, talk music & listen! It was an experience that helped make me who/what I am today. The older musicians nurtured my brother & me at the time. They saw something in us I guess & they instilled in us the desire to pass the knowledge on to the next generation of young players. I want to give back what was given to me. From the beginning of my professional career, I’ve been influenced by everyone I’ve played with! For me, that’s how you grow. Folks you play with don’t have to be good for you to learn from them… but it helps if they are good!
Favorite Musical Styles:
All styles. Music is either GOOD or BAD; I can appreciate whatever I hear.
I play Phifer Designs 4-string basses. My Relationship with luthier Woody Phifer started 30 years ago this June. I think it’s important if you plan to do this thing we call Music; you might as well make the journey comfortable. That starts with your instrument.
Woody took the time to explain what it was all about, plus I was eager to listen. I explained what I was hearing in my head & he’d find that sound in the bass that I had (’77 Blonde Fender Jazz Bass). He made me a Woody bass when I couldn’t modify my Jazz anymore. He’s the only guy I go to. I know what I’m getting every time I go to him, superior craftsmanship & a little extra! Woody knows what I want to sound like & he runs with it. That’s what 30 years of loyalty will get you.
My acoustic bass is an old Tyrolean flatback bass. I like just a DPA or AMT clip-on mic. I use a David Gage pick-up & a BOSS DI-1 direct box if things get loud. My strings are old (Thomastik); but they sound good.
My Amps and Other Gear:
Markbass amps. I use a Little Mark Tube 800 with a New York 804 cabinet when I’m doubling on acoustic & electric and a MoMark 800-SJ (Sweet Jesus) amp with two 104HR cabinets for total electric gigs. I use Dean Markley Blue Steel strings (.045-.105), Essential Sound Products MusicCord-PRO (killer!), George L’s & Prolink/Monster Cables. As far as outboard boxes, I have an Electro-Harmonix Q-Tron, an old BOSS Octaver, some very cool Markbass pedals (Stereo Chorus/Flanger & Bass Synthesizer) and a Big Muff! I love the pure sound of my bass so much that I only use them in the studio.
Phifer Guitar Designs, Markbass Amps, Gruv Gear, Essential Sound Products, Dean Markley Strings & iGig cases.
Best Bass Advice You Ever Received:
“A pork chop (electric bass) is different than a dog house (acoustic bass); so play them that way!” Bassist Bob Crenshaw
One Piece Of Advice For Other Bassists:
Listen & learn before you play… relax & have fun.
Favorite Quote or Life Philosophy:
“The only way we can really achieve FREEDOM; is to somehow conquer the fear of death. For if a man has not discovered something that he will die for; he isn’t fit to live.” Dr. Martin Luther King
Most Amazing Gig so Far:
That’s difficult. I’ve had many amazing gigs playing with 5 Elements, Buckshot LeFonque, RH Factor & many others performing around the World! I remember one hit playing with Meshell (Ndegeocello) in New York City. The club was packed & when she spoke you could hear a “mouse piss on cotton in the corner!” The vibe was so intense! She has such a great on-stage energy, not to mention being a funky bassist! But the most fulfilling for me was the first concert of my trio tour with Ravi Coltrane & Gene Lake @ Joe Zawinul’s Birdland in Vienna! Goose pimples!!
Two nights of that tour can be heard on my 1st CD “A Lot of Love; LIVE!”
The one I have now; my trio with Jef Lee Johnson & Gene Lake! Another dream gig I’d like is doing 2 bass with Marcus (Miller) & in trio or quartet. I was just talking to him about it in Cape Town, South Africa. For recording, I like the sound of cello (my 1st instrument) & bass clarinet (clarinet is his 1st instrument) on melody lines.
Most Embarrassing Moment on Stage:
I had an embarrassing moment in Amsterdam a good minute ago on-tour with Roy Hargrove @ Club Paradiso. I got a little TOO festive before the concert & began trying to get experimental with the Blues. Let’s just say it was a BAD choice!
*Always remember! If you’re going to play the blues… PLAY THE BLUES FOOL!
Favorite Tip to Share on Traveling With Your Bass:
A few road managers I’ve worked with in the past have told me when approaching the airport gate; “Keep your d#ck off your shoulder & keep it low.”
Also, the word “bass” & “guitar” give different impressions on lower humans.
When asked what I play, I now answer “guitar” because the vocal inflection always goes up! When people say “bass” (a downward vocal inflection); people think low & big and it won’t fit in the overhead! “I’m sorry, you’ll have to check that bass sir!!”
What Would You Be Doing If You Weren’t A Musician:
A chef with my own restaurant (cooking is a passion) or a comedian with my own club; I need someplace to tell my crazy stories!
The Question No One Ever Asks Me, But I Have Been Dying to Share:
How do I do my hair?! The Wilkinson Titanium 4-blade razor. Also… what am I listening to right at the moment?! Meshell Ndegeocello’s new CD “Weather”, Munir Hossn’s CD & Bobby Spark’s CD!! Some Bob Marley classics (Family Man Barrett) are in the CD tower, Miles (Kinda Blue) & Rob Glasper’s new CD “Black Radio” & of course I have to listen to my “FREEDOM” CD.
What You Can Look Forward to From Me this Year:
Look forward to my “FREEDOM” CD releasing April 1st (Europe) & May 28th (U.S.A.) with a concert @ the Blue Note (NYC)! It won’t be on any digital download engine like iTunes, CDBaby Amazon, etc. (legally) for the first year. We (Jammin’ colorS) really want folks to get the physical CD! Growing up reading liners notes about the musicians & the studio session, etc. gave me some insight regarding the album while listening to it all the way through! There’s a story to my CD; not just 3 or 4 good tunes! Pick it up on our website; www.jammincolors.com
I plan to do some workshops to give fellow low-end brethren & other musicians the “Anatomy of My Groove” & “My Eternal Internal.”
Find Me Online: