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Giuseppe Patane’: The Da Vinci of Bass – Bass Musician Magazine, February 2014 NAMM Issue

Giuseppe Patane’ is an amazing bass player from Bagnara Calabra, Southern Italy, currently residing in Los Angeles.

Bass Musician Magazine - SPECIAL February 2014 NAMM Issue

Giuseppe (aka PATA) started playing acoustic guitar at the age of 10, and bass became his main instrument at 14. After several years spent in Milan as a performer and arranger, and a short period of live sessions and recordings at Berklee College of Music in Boston, he finally moved to LA. It is always exciting to watch and hear his ability to blend African music, Jamaican Reggae and Western Pop and Rock with a little bit of “Tarantella” (native to his homeland Calabria) into one special orchestral sound.

His wide range of works and collaborations as a studio and live performer, producer and composer ranges from Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton, Stewart Levine, Hugh Masakela, Lalo Schifrin, Herbie Hancock, Take 6 to Eddie Kramer, Warren Cuccurullo, Terry Bozzio, Sunny Levine, Mickey Avalon, Mocean Worker, Pete Yorn, Holly Palmer, Talvin Singh, Eamon Ryland, Marco Marinangeli and David Sanborn, to name a few, as well as recording sessions at Capitol Studios, Paramount, Cello Studios, Ocean Way Studios, The Village Recorder, Paul Allen’s Vulcan, Forum Village Rome, etc.

Recent works include soundtrack-trailer music for the movie “Celeste and Jesse Forever” directed by Lee Toland Krieger, “Funny People”, directed by Judd Apatow, and the “Break Up” album by singer-songwriter Pete Yorn & actress-singer Scarlett Johansson, soundtrack music for CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) 2010 and HBO’s “Entourage Season 8.” Co-producer and arranger for David Bowie`s “Golden Years” remix with Sunny Levine and DJ Douridas (KCRW). He is currently part of Ear Theatre, a bi-generational, multi-influenced and experienced instrumental quartet, with producer Stewart Levine (Simply Red, Crusaders, BB King, Hugh Masekela, Joe Cocker, Dr. John, Jamie Cullum, Soul Power). 

Bass player live for THE OLMS, the new Pete Yorn project with J.D. King, with Jonny Polonsky on guitar and Malcom Cross on drums. The band has been successfully part of the iTunes Festival in London, the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, as well as The Jay Leno Show, 2013. Harvest Records.

Currently he is working and developing his special orchestral sound collaborating with Film directors, Animators, Theatrical and Dance Companies, VJs and Street Artists. He is also performing live multimedia shows in special events and art gallery exhibitions.

Honorable Mention Awards: World Section with song “Uyaye”, USA Songwriting Competition (2007) and The John Lennon Songwriting Contest (2007)

What inspired you to play bass?

The inspiration was an “occasion”! When I was a kid I used to play acoustic guitar in the main church of my hometown in Southern Italy. At one point my best friend Mario Lo Cascio, pianist and music-therapist, needed bass, therefore I borrowed a 72 Fender P-bass from Enrico, another great friend, in order to fill up that spot. That was it. I fell in love with the instrument. Since then I wanted to really improve on the instrument and as a musician, therefore I was only performing with older and more experienced musicians. Consequently every gig was a learning experience on its own. You always become the people you spend time with.

Who influenced you the most? Who are your favorite musicians?

What I love about music is that there truly are no boundaries. Literally everything in my life is a constant influence. You learn from every experience, what to do and often what NOT to do. I get influenced by musicians as well as music lovers, people and pretty much everything around me. I love to listen to classical and contemporary orchestral music, some jazz and I like ambient/electronica as well.

Now, in order to be more specific in answering your question, I would like to mention different musicians that grabbed my attention throughout my musical life. Amazing innovators like John Coltrane, my favorite one. Miles Davis (especially his ‘Kind of Blue’ album), Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Stewart Levine records, Mahler, Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota, John Lennon, Satie and Keith Jarrett, everything from the German ECM Label, such as the Pat Metheny Trio album with Jaco and Bob Moses, Weather Report (the best band ever), Wayne Shorter, Sting, Bob Marley, Fela Kuti, Bowie, The Stones, Pino Daniele, Lucio Battisti, De Andre’, Finardi, Radiohead, Milton Nascimento, Born In The USA, EW&F, Bill Frisell, Sakamoto, Airto Moreira, M-Base. Later in life I was really inspired by the Bristol Sound such as Massive attack and Portishead, Bjork, Howie B. Then…Me’shell and Squarepusher, as well.Beside all these well known names, there are such incredible “less-known” talents out there. The most influential people in my life are friends and young musicians that supported me throughout the years. We learn from each other and we keep growing together, such as Mario Lo Cascio, Ciccio Santoro, Enzo Baldessarro, Mimi’, Buitoni, Dalmazio, Musicantica, Valentina, Maata Haari and Sunny Levine, Alessandroni Sr. & Alessandroni Jr., Shawn Rivera, Nicolas Farmakalidis, Walter Donatiello e Gigi Meroni, Samuel Cereghini, Donato Serrao, Damiano, Andy Crosby (he never calls me back!), Eamon Ryland, Renzo Mantovani, Sello e Arnone, Noisi, Sage Principini, Marco Marinangeli, Warren Cuccurullo, Belardinelli, Damian, Marco Piali, Boi, PeteyP, Engle & Cheah, Heitor Pereira, Adolfo Bringas, Crostar, Surface10, Robbie, Lobbe, Gota Yashiki, Otto De Togni, El Fatom, Thanasi Moustogiannis, Justin Isao Woolsey, Satoru Sakamoto, Masayoshi Furukawa, Takatoshi Shindo, Junya Terui. Going back to big names…impossible not to mention Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Michael Jackson and Prince…right??? I could really go on…forever. And…Forgive me if I forget someone….PLEASE!!!

Who would you consider a mentor? Any important lessons he taught you?

Strangely, I never had anyone in my musical life that I would consider a mentor, however the closest thing to a mentor I had was my immediate family – my father, mother and my two brothers Domenico & Daniele. As a musician I never had any idols; no posters and stickers on my walls. 

So, Andreas, in order for me to answer your question I will mention people I worked with that had an essential impact in my career and helped me grow.  

Mostly I’d like to mention Stewart Levine, who is another amazing record producer, arranger and a super-warm reeds player. After years of arranging and sessions in the early ‘60…we are talkin’ about Coltrane, Monk; Miles & Bill Evans times…you know. He started a record company with African legendary trumpet player Hugh Masakela and after they did pretty much everything…watching crazy cross fades from the end of Bebop and cool Jazz to the birth of Rock’n roll….from Motown to whatever. He is known for his work with Simply Red, BB king, Dr. John, Crusaders, Sly and the Family Stone and many more. For me he represents the greatest, funniest, serious, warmest and essential source of music experience available. There is nothing better than having a single macchiato with Stewart and Bernie Grundman, the best mastering engineer ever and another fantastic human being. I should mention the magic Rod Temperton. He wrote everything…from “Thriller” to “Rock with You” by Michael Jackson, “Give Me The Night” for George Benson. Lovely and absolutely wonderful in everything.

Lastly, the most valuable advice I ever got was from Lalo Schifrin. We worked together (just some wild bass!!!) on a “007” Techno Remix (produced by my dear composer-friend Gigi Meroni). During a dinner, I asked the same question/advice to him and he told me “Before you answer to anything always count two bars”.  I translated this advice into “We have the ability to choose/control our reactions”. Our reactions can really change the course of things; therefore we should always take our time and think things through.

Anyway I need to tell you a little story. When I was a kid I used to often walk by the seaside, feeling the breeze, watching funny people and pretty girls. A few guys were talking about the weather…Apparently the TV news said that tomorrow would be sunny but an old, little, funky man was saying the it would rain. Sure enough the next day it was raining. Connecting with nature…you know. I miss that.

No matter what you think you know, no matter if you are a musician, a producer, a filmmaker or a writer who travels all over the world…beside the few people in the music business I mentioned, I learned the most important and essential things from fishermen and pastry-chefs from my hometown, simple people that never took a plane to go anywhere. 

I love it. That’s very valuable advice.Let’s change the subject. I know that you recorded a lot. What would you consider your top recordings?

Of course…any Sunny Levine recordings I worked on! Most of my best work is simply because of him. There is nothing ordinary and predictable beside creamy espressos. I always like Sunny’s records. He is the freshest and the most creative producer you can find now. He customizes every second of music, dancing with it. From the self-titled Mickey Avalon album to Pete Yorn “Break-Up” album with Scarlett Johansson, a fantastic project with the incredible Bruno Guez, Holly Palmer, and a bunch of other totally different things with always amazing situations! Be ready for his latest “Collection” album we just finished…featuring GREAT guests. I put some bass on Hugh Masakela, Pete Yorn, James Gadson and Aska Matsumiya tracks.

I really love the work I did with the Imagine Orkestra. A “Bitches Brew” style modern idea by Warren Cuccurullo (Zappa, Missing Persons, Duran Duran). We recorded at the  legendary Village Recorder and at Paul Allen’s Studio with Terri Bozzio (Jeff Beck, Zappa), Simone Sello (great friend, producer and unbelievable guitarist) and my favorite keys player…the super groovy and soulful Alex Alessandroni (C. Aguilera, Natalie Cole, Pink), Doug Lunn, Manuel Stagars…It was Surreal and GREAT! I’m credited as BiZarroPatane, bass from space…

Secondly I would like to mention the “We Are The Future” project, which I co-wrote and co-produced the self-titled song with Sunny Levine, Ron Temperton and Quincy Jones. It was an amazing experience. We are the Future (WAF), a program for children and youth in conflict-ridden areas, which was launched in 2004. The WAF focuses on five areas essential for rehabilitation: Health, Nutrition, Arts, Sports and Information & Communications Technology. It was recorded live with fantastic performances from everybody…from Alicia Keys to Santana, from Herbie Hancock to Ennio Morricone’s Orchestra. A six hour concert in front of half a million people. The “musical headquarter” was The Forum Village Studio in Rome, a legendary place that I wish every musician to experience thanks to the solar and tireless manager Marco Patrignani. The project didn’t really develop later for too many reason…but you can still find the DVD on the internet. 

A live recording concert at Apogee Studio by Bob Clearmountain…featuring The Olms…Calibreeze Style!!!

Producing and working with great songwriters like Veronica Coassolo, Megan Jacobs and the epic Luca Crostella (“Lullabies For Your Inner Child” by Beneath The Underdog…that was intense and lovely!!!)

Definitely my album “Essential Improvisation” created with free jazz drummer-composer Marco Piali. This record was actually recorded in my home-studio and in his garage-studio; that’s very special to me. Nowadays, with all these technological innovations you can literally produce an amazing record from your living room…or a garage (CLICK HERE FOR THE ALBUM ON iTUNES).

I’d love to mention Aika’s latest record called “No Mo Games,” which was recorded at NeilaProductions Studios here in California and in Japan. Unique, Wild and Lovely. She is powerful!

Favorite bass? Piece of gear? What strings or amps do you use?

My favorite bass is a 72 Fender P-bass equipped with a hipshot. I also love my 1960 Hofner bass that I made fretless, a gift from my great friend Enzo Baldessarro, wonderful teacher and bass maniac. My favorite amp is the Ampeg SVT, usually with an 8×10  or an 18 and a 2×10. Regarding strings I usually use Daddario or Rotosounds. On the subject of Effects I use a LowFilter Moog, (sponsored by one of my dearest friends and favorite musicians ever, Eamon Ryland), an old Akai Echo and a Whammy. I love crazy sounds too…delays, feedback, distortion and filters, however I do not always use effects. We have to serve the Music. On my latest tour with The Olms I literally used NO EFFECTS! Bass and cable!!! 

Tips for other musicians?

Enjoy and love what you do and do what you love. That’s the advice I give to anyone. You need to love what you do and do what you love. This always produces great results. Listen to the oldies…all the great records. Play as much as possible with all the people from all over the world…LA is the best place for this!!! Professionally of course, in 2014 musicians need to market themselves, learn about production, basic mixing, editing, etc. We live in fast times…everything changes quickly and we need to be updated…whether we like it or not!

Moreover, we should never compare ourselves to anybody. We are all different. Nobody can sound and play like you! We are all unique and we all have something valuable to offer. I love books and I have been living without TV for the last 20 years…Internet is more than enough. In order to have fun we gotta be serious…Collaborate and share ideas with other musicians and artists. If there is another bass player? GREAT…you both have 8 or more strings available to make good music!

Lastly, we need to understand that music is a unique form of art. Music is not just a job. We have a direct contact with the audience. In this crazy world, being a musician is also a big responsibility for me. If you feel good, the energy is good, the performance is good, the people around you feel good…Your intention is good and the result is good…what’s better and more powerful than that? Therefore we have a mission to make people happy and/or make them think. So PLEASE… in a broken old garage, in a fantastic studio, in front of five people or in front of 500,000…GIVE 100% of yourself.

I know you have toured excessively. Any touring advice?

Excessively never…I can’t do that!!! Visit as many places as you can! Spend time and connect with other musicians, artists and ordinary people. Experience as many things as possible. That’s also a good occasion to truly take time for yourself as well. I take long walks, explore, get lost, find good food and extra virgin olive oil of course…to balance myself. Taking care is essential…especially if you want to have fun! 

The more we know…the more we find out that we know nothing, like the ancient Greeks used to say…right? Relax and enjoy when touring.

 Funny touring or recording moments?

Fortunately many…especially if you are on the road with special guys like The Olms. Forget about counting bars, 11/8 tempos, click…you have to love and know the songs all the way through, sing the songs like the Beatles! 

Pete Yorn is a fantastic songwriter, leader and performer, always ON at 360 degrees. JD King, a lovely and unique vintage-fresh artist. Johnny Polonsky is incredible and surprising all the time on anything he does. Sir Malcom Cross, drummer and composer, is just a wild-sweet honey that you want pretty much on top of everything!

Here is a  link to some pretty funny touring moments: en-maktoob.news.yahoo.com/video/olms-tour-documentary-180827892.html

 Any technique tips? You have a beautiful fat bass sound. How do you achieve that?

I have been a bass player for about 30 years….wow, I can’t believe that. Everybody needs to understand that the sound of the instrument is in your hands, in your fingers. You need to get a comfortable instrument – doesn’t matter the price. Then you need to spend the time to practice and mostly connect with the instrument. You need to have a statement and an intention. That is why Jaco cannot be replaced; his touch, his intention and his imagination cannot be replaced. There are bass players who can play faster and cleaner than Jaco, however nobody will be able to replace him. 

The only thing I’m concerned with when Music is performed is the Sound…Energy and Vibration…the Meaning. Sometimes I love silence, rarely some noise…I deeply need to be touched by harmony and melody. I love any source of sound…from a wonderful acoustic cello to a Moog plug-in for iPad…from an analog synth to an old vertical piano…from a magic snare to a deep bass tone. Any genre of Music…Wherever it comes from, it has to be organic…real. This always comes not from the instrument itself but from our intention, instinct, study, sensibility and awareness.

Back to the subject of fat bass sound, I believe that since it’s a bass we need to eliminate the treble and the mids. That is why I love the work and sound of Jimmy Garrison, Dave Holland, Pino Palladino, Tony Levin and the Motown players. Deep Sounds. I believe they feel the same concept as me and we enjoy the same frequency. Bass produces the bigger necessary vibrations that touch the core of our soul. We only miss the bass when it is not there. Can you enjoy music if the bass is not there? 

 I know you record a lot – very different styles of music.  Any studio recording advice?

Please make sure that your phone is off and not in your pocket. Then LISTEN to the music! Do not just start playing. Try to put yourself in a comfortable monitoring set-up. This can be achieved either by a good headphone mix or monitoring system. Do exactly what you are asked to do and then have fun with the music…and play your own thing anyway…ha-ha-ha…they will like it more! Music is supposed to be an enjoyable experience, try to find a way to connect and get lost in the music. 

Has your approach coming up with bass lines changed over the years? Is it still the same process?

Great question Andreas. I will tell you this…when you look in the mirror, you always look the same, however you are always different. I always believe that less is more. Bass needs round-deep notes with a strong foundation. Get into the groove…for real.

I believe that musicians should express themselves freely. I believe that is why people call me, since I always support new ideas. If you have a different idea just try it in one of the takes and give the best of yourself every time. Don’t worry at all about making mistakes…that’s the only way to learn. 

I know you are also involved in different types of art projects such as architecture, design, etc. Can you talk about that?

I was exposed to music since I was three, either by playing a plastic toy piano or touching any real instrument I had a chance to put my hands on. The other thing I used to love while growing up was drawing. 

After high school, my dad persuaded me to get a “real job,” therefore I went to study in Milan and got a Masters Degree in Architecture and Interior Design. Throughout my studies though, I was gigging and enjoying myself with other things like musical instruments, travel and funny adventures. Additionally, living in Italy, a land with such a strong, ancient and historic civilization, you cannot help but being exposed and surrounded by art. Beauty is an essential element in art, which is why I love Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Chagall, The Blue years of Picasso, Van Gogh, jumping to Fellini…love that!!! I’m very open minded so I’m interested in and respect other ways of making art. I just don’t enjoy lack of beauty, proportion, aesthetic balance in art…I don’t like the Guernica mural, heavy music, crazy shapes and uncomfortable architecture, and any violent art expressions…I naturally feel comfortable when a sense of proportion is present so I can eventually appreciate “short” moments of excess!!! 

Moreover, Architecture has to do with space, colors, volume, and emptiness, consequently my extensive art studies helped me understand music, as well as music composition in a greater extent, since they both deal with the same principles. 

I still design. I recently designed some CD covers, some custom made furniture. The big difference between Music and Architecture, Design or Painting is that you cannot touch music, you cannot see it. It’s magic. For me other art forms are a bit “more intellectual”. I do not like when everything gets too intellectual, hence I do music. Actually when I’m able to unplug my mind…something nice always happens. “Everything with moderation…including moderation”! Right Stu?

The highlight of your career thus far?

My first concert…playing covers in my hometown in front of 2,000 people…and ALL OF THEM KNOW YOU AND YOUR FAMILY WELL! 

You are also a producer. What is your best production work?

My best production work ever is my son Hiro Paolo…ha-ha-ha…and I thank my wonderful wife Shihomi for her love and support.

Visit online at www.patahaus.com

Cover Photo, Jim Wright

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