Bassist Jason Raso– Why Is Music Important (The Panel Experiment) by Brent-Anthony Johnson
Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Jason Raso. I am a bass player, bandleader, composer, instructor, film noir buff, hockey fan, baked goods aficionado, husband and father.
Who are your primary musical influences?
I have a real soft spot for bassist bandleaders like Marcus Miller, Stanley Clarke, Charles Mingus, Dave Holland and Alain Caron.
What are you listening to musically, in the past 12 months that has enhanced the way you think about music and your craft?
I’ve been listening to Alain Caron’s “Multiple Faces”, Rich Brown’s “Between the Heaviness & Here”, and Grant Green’s “Idle Moments”. All three artists have such strong phrasing, and they truly have their own voices! It’s very inspiring.
How does your personal musical voice directly relate to the function of the basses? Also, what are your main instruments?
I really believe the bass can serve any function – bass lines, chords, and melody. So, I try to develop each area. Currently, my main instruments are an F Bass BN6 and a Fodera Monarch 4 Standard.
Describe your musical composition process.
It really varies…! Sometimes, a melody will come first. Sometimes, I’ll start with a chord progression, or with a rhythmic idea. There are times when the whole tunes flows out at once… while, at other times, it takes weeks to complete a composition. As a compositional exercise, I present myself with something I call “writing challenges”. For example, I might challenge myself to use a new key, or time signature as a tool in order to produce a piece of music.
How does music affect your culture and immediate environment?
We have a great local scene, with great musicians, in Guelph, Ontario, Canada! We also have some great young players coming up in the area. Music is a big part of our lives around my home. My seven-year-old daughter has started playing bass and loves listening to music.
What would you be, if not a professional musician?
A hockey commentator.
What is the greatest sacrifice you’ve ever made while in the practice of being a musician, and how did that sacrifice affect you?
I’m very fortunate to make a living as a musician. Based upon that gift, I don’t feel like I have made any sacrifices.
Describe your standing practice regimen. Also, what technical (and musical) aspects of your playing are you currently working on?
I have a solid routine that I follow regularly, and I really enjoy practicing! My main goal is keep my practice musical at all times. So, I predominantly work on walking lines, chord progressions and soloing. I also spend time on rhythmic ideas, such as employing different time/feel(s), playing in odd time signatures, etc. Currently, I’m spending a lot of time with patterns for the six-string bass guitar. I’m new to the six-string, and there is a lot to work on!
What does music, and being a musician, mean to you – at the deepest level of your being?
Music is life, the good and bad (of it)… is everything to me! Sometimes you have a great day musically, and some days it’s a struggle! Usually, music is an escape… At other times, you can’t escape it. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
How important is it to understand the Language of music?
Understanding the Language of music (and how it works) is absolutely vital. For me, it’s all about great communication between my band mates, and students, and that doesn’t happen without the ability to communicate through the speaking of music.
How do you collect the series of seemingly random influences and articulate them through music?
I don’t think of them as random… as they each have one thing in common: they have all had an influence on my life and my musical approach. When playing, I don’t pinpoint my influences… they just come through. It’s only after that I hear them in my playing, that I can identify them.
Can music ever truly become commercial? Why, or why not?
Well as soon as we decide to make a living through music, it becomes a commercial endeavor – in my opinion. Each one of us has to tend to the business side of music, as a well as the “player” side. The challenge is in finding the balance between art and commerce. I want to support my family and make the music I want to make.