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The Latin Bass Issue – Rodner Padill

Rodner Padill, The Low End of C4 Trio…

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

RP I was born in a small town from the West Coast in Venezuela, named “Punto Fijo.” My parents both have musical skills, my father is a keyboard player, just by ear but with a lot of “Guataca,” what we say in Venezuela when a musician can easily find chords and melody from a tune that they have never listened to. 

I grew up musically in a church where my parents used to go every Sunday. The church had every instrument, except bass guitar, so I use to play drums for hours when I was 9 years old. When I was 12, a guy played bass guitar at church and I just listened… it made the music different, bigger, I liked it better, and I just got caught by the instrument… that was the beginning.

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

RP My first bass was really the family acoustic guitar. I found out that the bass was the four lower strings of the guitar, came back home and just dropped off the two higher strings (B-E), and started to listen to records trying to find the notes of the songs. A couple of years later, my father went to Denver, Colorado on business travel, and I ask him to bring me an “Ibanez SDGR,” because I had the catalogue and I liked that one. I put the open catalogue into his luggage. He brought me a 5-string “XTG.” I had never heard about that brand, ever.

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

RP My father came back from his travel on a Sunday morning. We picked him up at the airport and went directly to the church; I played the whole service, it was amazing.

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

RP Definitely an advantage. Talking about the music issue, there is such a richness in the music of our people, many traditional rhythms and melodies, that have not been explored fully on the bass instrument; that gives us a unique perspective of what we say musically, and that’s the important thing, when you go inside your roots, that’s when you get the universality.

Now, talking about the music business, it’s a fact that it is more difficult for a bassist born in Latin America to get some places in the industry, but is also a fact that the industry is reinventing itself, so we just have to work, make music and find new ways of sharing it.

BMM What are your main musical and bass influences?

RP  Jaco, Sal Cuevas, Fania, Abe Laboriel, Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock, Victor Wooten, Ensamble Gurrufio, Weather Report, Rubén Blades, Juan Luis Guerra, Yellow Jackets, and many, many others.

BMM How do you define the music style you play?

RP I always liked all the music styles – Salsa, Jazz, Jazz fusion, Venezuelan music, Merengue, Pop, Church music, etc., and I feed my musical intuition from everything I listen to and play; no prejudgment.

BMM How important is reading and studying music theory?

RP How important is it to understand the foundation of the art you choose? It’s up to you. I think the further you want to go with your music and your instrument, the further you have to go with that understanding of the whole picture, including theory, reading, harmony, rhythm, percussion, composing, etc. Again, it’s up to you.

BMM What do you consider the differences that technology and the Internet have made for you as a musician, compared to the previous generations that didn’t have these tools?

RP Basically information and sharing your art with more people. I’m 34 now and grew up recording radio and TV shows on tapes, and re-recording it. I looked for information everywhere and ordered copies of books because I couldn’t find them in my town. There was not YouTube where you can search ‘how to’ and you have it immediately, or the ability to ‘Google it’ (but watch out with that information). In that sense the new generation has more facility to get to the information. That’s great.

In my current work, the Internet is a vital part of it, as I record bass very often to producers in Miami, Ecuador, Washington, DC and other cities in Venezuela. Also, I’m teaching using Skype with students in Colombia, USA and Venezuela. In addition you can broadcast your concerts, activity, and projects without using traditional media. So the Internet is definitely an important tool in music, to get the information and share your music with many others.

BMM Tell us about your gear.

RP I’m sponsored by Yamaha and play their TRB 6PII, SLB 200 (upright silent bass), also DR Strings. In my home-studio I’m using Apogee Duet for converting, a chanel strip from the Harrison “MR3” vintage mix table for preamp and compressing.

BMM Who are your favorite Latin American bassists?

RP Abe Laboriel, El “Papa” Pastor, Oscar Stagnaro, Sal Cuevas, Rubén Rodríguez (Niuyorican cuentan como Latinos), Thiago Espiritu Santo and my friends, the great Venezuelan bassists from whom I always learn, Rafael Querales, Henry Paul Díaz, Roberto Koch, Gonzalo Teppa, David Peña “El Zancudo”, Carlos Sanoja, and others like Luis David Gonzalez, who is beginning to do nice work in Venezuela.

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

RP I think one of the elements that gives more strength to your music is what you are, where you are from and the beating of the heart of your people. It’s great to study all kinds of music, Funk, Jazz, Rock… but don’t forget your own music, that’s what makes you unique.

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