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The Latin Bass Issue – John Benitez

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Interview with Grammy Award Winning Artist, Bassist John Benitez…

BMM Please share with us a little of your personal background…

JB I was born in Rio Piedras Puerto Rico. My childhood was spent between Rio Grande, and Trujillo Alto. I attended Escuela Libre de Musica and studied at UPR and the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico. Living one year in Colombia, there I married Jacqueline Martinez and we have 3 children, Francis, Kathleen and Joshua. 

In 1993 I moved to NYC to finish a B.A. degree at the Manhattan School of Music, and had the opportunity to play with many musicians. Currently I am working to establish an educational organization called Developing Center for the Arts and Creative Thinking (DCACT).

BMM What was your first bass, and how did you come by it?

JB My first bass was a 4-string… I don’t recall exactly, but I think it was an Ibanez that I bought.

BMM Tell us about that very first day you had a bass in your hands.

JB …It felt very good. For me to had both rhythm and harmony in the same instrument was very natural and fun because I started playing gospel music with percussion as well as guitar!

BMM As a bassist born in Latin America, do you find this to be an advantage or disadvantage? 

JB For me it is an advantage to be born in Latin America, because there are a lot of bass traditions in Latin American rhythms and melodies. 

BMM What are your main musical and bass influences?  

JB I’m influenced not only by bass players, but also drummers, guitar players and pianists as well. Having said that, as far as bassists, I would mention Jaco Pastorious, Ron Carter, Paul Chamber, Jimmy Garrison, Dave Holland, Israel “Cachao” López, Anthony Jackson, Jeff Andrews, James Jammerson, Marcus Miller, Ray Brown, Bobby Valentin, Andy Gonzales, Eddie Guagua Rivera, Carlos del Puerto (senior), Salvador Cuevas, among others.

BMM How do you define the music style you play?

JB It is really hard to say that I play one style. I’m a Latino artist and I have been raised with dance music, therefore I love rhythms, melodies and harmony. I try to find this three elements in any kind of music that I play as long as the music grooves.

BMM How important is reading and studying music theory?

JB I know great musicians that don’t know how to read and cannot explain in theory what they play and this does not make them less valuable.  But to be able to read music and understand music theory is very important because otherwise the musician is losing a lot of information; it is like you know how to talk, but you don’t know how to read and write. 

BMM Tell us about your gear.   

JB Well I feel very blessed because I use Markbass amps,  FClef basses and Greyman basses.    

BMM Who are your favorite Latin American bassists?

JB This is a hard question for me, but I could mention Israel “Cachao” López, Bobby Valentin, Bobby Rodriguez, Eddie Guagua Rivera and Alain Pérez.

BMM Please leave some motivational and encouraging words for the next generation of Latin American bassists.

JB It is very important that the artist discover his/her purpose in life at an early stage of their career and pursue their dreams; by doing this the artist will be happy and successful.

Visit online at johnbenitez.com

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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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Travis Book

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Interview With Bassist Travis Book

Interview With Bassist Travis Book…

Bluegrass music has had a very solid following over many years and I am always happy to hear from one of the pioneers in that genre.

Travis Book plays bass for the Grammy award-winning band “The Infamous Stringdusters” and has recently released his first solo album “Love and Other Strange Emotions”. As if he wasn’t busy enough, Travis also hosts a podcast, Plays a Jerry Garcia music show with Guitarist Andy Falco, and is constantly gigging locally in his neck of the woods.

Photo, Seyl Park

Visit Online:

www.thetravisbook.com
www.thestringdusters.com
FB @ TheTravisBook
IG @ travisbook

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Bass Videos

Interview with Malcolm-Jamal Warner

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Interview with Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Malcolm-Jamal Warner…

I am pretty sure that everyone is aware of Malcom-Jamal Warner’s work as an actor. What may be less known is his work as a director, poet, musician, and most importantly for us, a bass player. With four albums of his own, Grammy nominations and wins, as well as a sizable amount of ongoing live gigs, Malcolm is dedicating a serious amount of his attention to his music.

Join me as we hear about Malcom’s musical journey, projects, his gear choices, and plans for the future.

Here is Malcom-Jamal Warner!

Photos: Dwain Govan @dwain_go / Conrad Montgomery Mckethan @eyeconimages

Visit Online:

malcolmjamalwarner.com
IG @malcolmjamalwar
Twitter @malcolmjamalwar 
Facebook: Malcolm-Jamal Warner

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Bass Videos

Interview With The Labex Funk Project

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Interview With The Labex Funk Project

Interview With The Labex Funk Project…

Time really flies when you are having fun! Just over a decade ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michel “Labex” Labaki for our July 2013 cover.

At that time, much of our conversation concerned his personal approach to bass playing and his techniques. Fast forward to now and I am pleased to discover Michel’s new endeavor, the Labex Funk Project.

Join me as we meet the band:
Kynion Lanier on vocals
Pablo Batista on percussion
Jake Brightman on Guitar
Daniel Gonzalez on Drums
And Michel “Labex”Labaki on bass

As a bonus, we have the band’s producer Phillippe Dib in on this video chat as well.

Here is the Labex Funk Project!

Visit online:

michellabaki.com
www.facebook.com/MichelLabexLabaki/
www.instagram.com/michellabaki
www.youtube.com/c/MichelLabaki
FB @LabexFunkProject
IG @ Labex Funk Project

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Tony Newton

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Interview With Bassist Tony Newton

Bassist Tony Newton…

I am always learning new details about Bass history when I get the opportunity to talk with seasoned players like Tony Newton. Tony, a Detroit native, came up in the golden years of Motown and laid down the low end for countless performers and studio sessions; he has performed on over 25 gold and platinum hit recordings.

As time went by, and the whole Detroit scene dwindled, Tony relocated to LA where he worked a busy schedule, even going back to school to learn about music theory and composition.

Over the years he performed on many historic hit recordings and tours with Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson(music Director), the Temptations, Aretha Franklin, The Funk Brothers and more, as well as working with veteran rock guitarist, Gary Moore in the British group G-Force.

Presently, Tony is super busy and on the verge of releasing a movie titled “Mars Quest” among his numerous other projects.

Join me as we get to enjoy all the history and knowledge that Tony has to share along with the details about his new Signature bass from BITE Guitars named “The  Punchtown Bass”.

Here is Tony Newton…

Photos: Mary K. Brand, Mitch Snyder, Haneefa Karrim, Hans Adamsen

Visit Online:

tonynewtonmusic.com/
FB @ TonyNewtonMusic Artist
YTB @ antoniotonynewtonmusic

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