Interview With Bassist Craig Schoedler: Bass Legacy…
Craig Schoedler’s third release, Bass Legacy, marks a decided departure from his solo bass releases, choosing, this time, to display his rich keyboard-based compositions and engaging ensemble playing. Co-Produced with Guitarist/Engineer Rich Kurtz, and released on 01/29/2022, Bass Legacy proclaims Craig as a mature smooth instrumental music bassist and generous bandleader. Joining Craig and Rich are the exceptional Drummer/Percussionist Larry Marshall and Keyboardist Bob Coulon who together form a musically wealthy rhythm section that has the ability to present both musical depth and enough space to allow the listener to the sea of melodic lines featured herein, and each tune presents cool spaces for daring solos that don’t distract from the overall listening experience. Saxophonist Eric Marienthal steps out front on “Power”, “Terminal A”, and “Resilience”, while Saxophonist Bill Evans lends his unmistakable voice “Adani”, and “Krong Kong”. Finally, Kristina Pruitt presents beautifully lilting vocalizations to both “Burlington” and “Rainbow Bridge”. This is a very cool record to listen to!
Congratulations to Craig (and Rich) for producing one of the best records I’ve heard in some time!
Must hear tracks: “Terminal A”, “Adani”, “Burlington”, “Rainbow Bridge”
BAJ: Hi Craig! Congratulations on the release of “Bass Legacy”. What is the meaning behind the title, and how did the compositions come together for the record? Also, what was your process for bringing these particular musicians together?
CS: Thanks Brent and congratulations on your career as well!
I had been writing and practicing these 8 tunes for about a year. I was ready to record, but then the pandemic hit. So, I continued working on them for an additional year. The title “Bass Legacy”, is directly influenced by living through the pandemic and I started to view this project as a legacy – in case it was my last recording. These past few years have shown that we’re all very vulnerable. I do have another, most important legacy with regards to my family! So, “Bass Legacy” just refers to my life as a bassist/composer. I’m always thrilled to work with one of my best friends Rich Kurtz of Cadencemusicstudio.com, who co-produced and engineered this project. He is a master in the studio and we work together extremely well. It was also great to work with my life-long friend, Larry Marshall on drums and percussion. We played together many years ago. So, this was a great reunion for us. I have known and respected Bob Coulon (Piano/keyboards)and Kristina Pruitt (vocals) for many years also so they were an obvious choice for me. I had the great pleasure of adding Bill Evans (sax) and Eric Marienthal (sax) —their playing is just amazing and was a perfect fit for this project.
BAJ: Along with the composition process, mentioned previously, how do you go about identifying solos for the tunes once they are written?
CS: Soloing has always been a focus of my playing. I have been influenced by Mike Stern, Michael Brecker, John Patitucci, Chick Corea, and my Mentor, Jeff Andrews. I try to become extremely familiar with the tunes and I spend many hours soloing over each one. I’m a huge fan of how John Patitucci develops melodic ideas. I do sound like myself when I solo. But, there are definite shades of my influences (particularly John Patitucci, and Jeff Andrews) that shine through.
BAJ: The other lead voices you chose… (Eric, Bill, and Kristina), did you have their particular voices in mind as you composed the material? Or, was there a different situation you could tell us about?
By the way, the addition of Kristina’s vocalizations added a wonderful depth to the record. Kudos!
CS: I was definitely hearing Miles Davis’s “Amandla” sound for “Adani” and “Krong Kong”. Bill’s concept of playing was a perfect fit. I was also very pleased with how Eric’s playing style fit the tunes that he was on. They’re both world-class players for sure and it was great to have them on this recording. I noticed that “Burlington“ and “BVI” would be great tunes to have piano/keyboard solos, so I thought of Bob Coulon right away and he nailed it. When listening back to my bass melodies for “Rainbow Bridge” and “Burlington “, I noticed that I kept singing along. This inspired me to get Kristina Pruitt to sing on these tunes. Kristina is an outstanding vocalist and she was the first and only person that I thought of—perfect choice.
BAJ: Was there any special way you prepared (musically) for the recording of this material?
CS: A few years back I would compose melodies and chord changes a section at a time. Over time I had many of these song segments. Sometimes I would compose a song from start to finish, but sometimes I would find segments that fit together very well. I then programmed the chord changes into my keyboard and would solo over them 4 hours per day all thru the pandemic. My wife Helen and two Dachshunds Hansel and Gretel knew “Bass Legacy” very well before I even recorded it.
BAJ: How are you presenting this material in a live format?
CS: I am the total opposite of a multi-tasker, so I have a very simplistic approach towards music lately. My main goal is to improve my playing and record a new album every 5 years or so. While I will probably pursue jazz festivals for 2023, I would be very happy to play bass for other artists (recording remotely or tours). I’m more focused on having people listen to “Bass Legacy” than to perform it live. But we’ll see.
BAJ: There has been a lot of new music being released – as so many of us found ourselves on lockdown. Are any of the tunes on Bass Legacy ‘old’ ideas that found ‘new’ life” during the lockdown? Or, are the tunes all very recent?
CS: Most of the tunes were completed at the beginning of the pandemic, but a few reflect my life during. It’s very ironic but the tune “Power” was composed at a very difficult time early on in the pandemic—Feb 5th, 2020. On that day, I felt extremely powerless, and this song actually represents how I wanted to feel. I guess this tune could have been called “Fake it till you make it”. My younger son Alex lived in Burlington for 6 years so we would visit him during that time. The tune Burlington is a tribute to Vermont. BVI is a tribute to the British Virgin Islands and the times that I spent there. I wrote Rainbow Bridge for my Dachshund Max (Mahatma) who died in Nov of 2020. To me, the tune “Krong Kong 2020” is an expression of the fear and turmoil that we all felt that year. I picture a Godzilla-like creature coming in and destroying all of our lives in 2020.
BAJ: Thank you for taking the time to walk us through the record, Craig! Again, Congratulations! Is there anything you’d like to say in closing, to our readers?
CS: It was very great to connect with you after 20 years Brent. I wish you well with your CDs which sound great btw. I encourage all readers to get a “Legacy” of their own out there. This album is dedicated to my awesome wife Helen. I want to also mention that one of my main mentors (Jeff Andrews) passed while my album was in its early stages. After that, I was on a mission to get a recording out just to honor him in some way. I hope that he would be proud.