Bass player, Carles Benavent, was born in the Pueblo Seco (Poble Sec) neighborhood in Barcelona, Spain. His earliest days playing music were in blues and rock groups at the age of fourteen.
Essentially self-taught, Carles benefited from being in the midst of the surging musical environment in Barcelona of the 1960s. It wasn’t long before he formed the fusion band, Musica Urbana, along with keyboard player, Joan Albert Amargos, recording two albums. After that group broke up, he began to play and record with flamenco guitar virtuoso and innovator, Paco de Lucia in 1978. It was the starting point of a continuous musical relationship between both musicians that lasted for many years.
1991 proved to be a high point for Carles when he performed with Miles Davis in one of the music legend’s very last concerts in Montreux, Switzerland.
His lowest low was hit in 1995 when Carles suffered a serious accident that caused great damage to his left arm. However, he was determined to return to playing music. With hard work he recovered and for the past years he has performed throughout the globe in many different contexts with musicians like Al Di Meola, Peter Erskine and many others.
Carles Benavent has an unmistakably distinct sound. He is considered by many to be among the finest, most complete bass players in the world. Musicians and fans alike can hear his outstanding playing in a variety of settings including his work with Paco de Lucia, his own solo recordings, and with Chick Corea and Touchstone.
Carles Benavent (Nuevos Medios, 1983) Dos de copas (Nuevos Medios, 1985) Peaches with Salt (Frog Records, 1985) Colors (Nuevos Medios, 1991) Agüita que corre (Nuevos Medios, 1995) Fénix (Nuevos Medios, 1997) Aigua (Nuevos Medios, 2001)
Bassist Tomasz Lato was born in Cracow in 1968. Both his parents were musicians, and so he started playing the piano as a child. At the age of fourteen he changed to the acoustic bass. His wide range of musical interests led him to various ensembles.
During his time at High School and his studies at the Music Academy of Cracow he played in Jazz Groups, worked as a musical director in theater and broadcast productions, joined the Philharmonic Orchestra, the “Capella Cracoviense”, the “Sinfonietta Cracovia” and the “Heidelberg Chamber Orchestra”. Beside all that activities he is a requested studio musician, also for pop music productions and soundtracks.
Do you have a copy of World Circuit Record’s 2001 release of Cachaito in your music collection right now? No? Well, you need to get one immediately. Seriously, get it. I’ll wait. (Cue: elevator music.)
Okay, released in 2001 and recorded at the Egrem Studios in Havana, Cuba, Cachaito is the master work of Cuban bassist and composer Orlando ‘Cachaito’ López. Son of bassist and composer of Orestes López and nephew of bassist and mambo innovator Israel “Cachao’ López, Orlando ‘Cachaito’ López was the undisputed bassist backbone of The Buena Vista Social Club. So intrinsic to the very fabric of Cuban music, one would have to twist inside out in discussing the breadth and influence of Cuban music without mentioning Cachaito or the López family of musicians.
So, it goes without saying that the Cachaito recording is a must-have for the Cuban music devotee. It just so happens World Circuit has just made things a little more interesting with their upcoming June 22nd first ever vinyl release of Cachaito, complete with a 12-page color booklet and a post card. Leaving aside whether to choose digital, CD or vinyl debate up to personal tastes, revisiting the Cachaito release reveals that this release is one of the essentials. Whether you are a seasoned collector or a newbie who just Googled a geographical map of Cuba, Cachaito hasn’t lost a bit of its luster in the some seventeen years since it was released, nor has its importance dimmed as a cutting edge Cuban music experience.
Putting it all together is Buena Vista Social Club and Ry Cooder producer Nick Gold with recording by Jerry Boys. In addition, Cachaito is brimming over with Cuban percussion masters like conguero Miguel ‘Anga’ Diaz, timbales player Amadito Valdés and bongo player Carlos González, but listeners get goodies like Jamaica’s Bigga Morrison on Hammond organ, Cuban guitarist Manuel Galbán, the famed vocalist Ibrahim Ferrer, flutist ‘Polo’ Tamoyo, violinist Pedro ‘Depestre’ Gonzalez and trombonist Jesus ‘Aguaje’ Ramos. If that were enough, there’s also Hugh Masekela on flugelhorn, Pee Wee Ellis on tenor sax and French DJ Dee Nasty on electronics.
What makes Cachaito so wonderful is its willingness to utterly defy convention, to fly in the in the face of Cuban music and remake it. Plucking influences from dub, reggae, jazz, surf guitar music and hip hop, Mr. López tucks those varied traditions neatly into a sound that comes across as fresh, even years after the recording first release. Mr. López steps out onto the thinnest of branches and takes flight, where listeners are mere passengers to varied musical landscapes Mr. López wishes to reveal.
Opening with a phone call on “Siempre Con Swing,” Cachaito slides into the sleekly jazzy “Redencion.” Mr. López lulls listeners with the equally smooth ride of “Mis Dos Pequeñas” before dipping a wing to show off the hypnotic percussive and guitar rich landscape of “A Gozar El Tumbao.” Diving in another direction, “Cachaito In Laboratory” is hip hop coolness before veering off onto the highly polished jazzy “Tumbao No. 5 (Para Charlie Mingus).” Mr. López offers flirty flashes on the flute-laced “Conversación,” delves deep into meaty bass goodness of “Tumbanga” and shows off all the colors of plumage on “Wahira.”
When we finally land in the midst of the party on “La Negra,” it’s impossible to deny that Cachaito has provided an impossibly rich ride.
Senegal is in mourning. Not only have they lost a beloved man, but a hero who changed forever their musical landscape. Habib Faye was a virtuoso bassist. He was a gifted composer, arranger, and a Grammy nominated producer. Think African traditional drumming meets Jaco Pastorius’s funk and you begin to capture the sound. He was a multi-instrumentalist who played the piano and owned it, while other musicians might claim it as a secondary instrument. He was a highly creative mind who could transform a piece of music from failure to success in moments.
Habib was born in 1965, in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. It’s a bustling and crowded city on the west coast of Africa, and its citizens have a strong tradition of hospitality. It’s also a deeply musical city, rooted in tradition, yet open to modern music. Habib grew up in a musical family: his father and his five brothers were all outstanding musicians. He didn’t attend music school, but listened to jazz, rock, and salsa, absorbing it and teaching himself to play it all. He worked hard at music, perhaps in part because he was a Mouride – a follower of the Sufi tradition in Senegal and devotee of Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba, who installed both non-violence and hard work into his followers.
He was only a teenager when he was plucked up to join a young band, Super Étoile de Dakar, whose lead singer was the fiercely ambitious Youssou N’Dour. Youssou with his soaring, heartfelt vocals and good looks was the obvious leader for the group, and he captivated many female fans. His father had forbidden him to play music, but his mother’s people were griots, and music was in his birthright. In the short film, Youssou N’Dour: Eyes Open, he says: “I sing about things which are important to me, I sing about real life in Dakar as it is today.” But his singing could go only so far. He needed a great band to make the music fly, and that’s why he chose Habib as his bassist.
At this time, a new musical genre was created in Dakar: Mbalax. The word means rhythm. Three drums lay down a polyrhythmic mosaic whose origin is in the music of the Serer people. The percussion section has a lead drum (the nder), a rhythm drum (the sabar), and a talking drum (the tama). In Super Étoile de Dakar, Mamadou Jimi M’Baye on electric guitar and Habib Faye were among the first Senegalese musicians to incorporate this highly rhythmic pulse and give it a new spin. Habib also brought elements of percussion into his bass playing.
Part of his power was in the variety of rhythms in his playing. His outstanding technique allowed him to make rapid interchanges between funk and indigenous rhythms. He was also one of the first to introduce marimba keyboard playing into Senegalese popular music. This was a participatory music, Super Étoile knew how to start with slow numbers, and then to accelerate the tempo, and to increase the intensity of their rhythm and energy as the night progressed. The rapid fire percussion caused sparks to fly. The group redefined Senegal’s music. Never before had the traditional and the modern been played alongside one another. Dakar was electrified.
In the 1980s, Super Étoile de Dakar, Youssou N’Dour, and Habib, caught the attention of Peter Gabriel, the famed British pop musician and producer. And he introduced them to international audiences and to critical acclaim.
After Habib had played for twenty-eight years with Youssou N’Dour, he at last formed his own quartet. And, in 2012, he released a significant solo work in the album entitled H20. It is a thoughtful, meditative work, and when the music slows down in a lament, listeners can hear the full expressiveness of his bass line.
Ashley Maher, an American musician, speaks of the more recent years, “If I am to speculate, his international travels expanded Habib’s appreciation for jazz and funk. He became a master of bass ‘slapping’ in his solos. And he also collaborated with a wide range of star jazz masters such as Stanley Clarke and Lionel Loueke. There was also a period of time that he toured with Angelique Kidjo. In my view, the world was never as aware of his incredible talent as they should have been.”
His final project was with Ablaye Cissokho, the kora player. For one more time, he brought traditional Senegalese instruments and rhythms to work together with the modern music that so inspired him.
Habib Faye died of a lung infection on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018. He was only fifty-two years old. He is survived by his wife and their children. The name Habib means beloved in Arabic, it is a fitting name for a man not only beloved to his family, but to his friends, fellow musicians and fans around the world who have been irrevocably touched by his music.
To give readers a feel for how his Senegalese contemporaries thought about him, I interviewed several of them, and here’s what two of the most important of them had to say.
Etu Dieng, musical director and bassist with the vocalist Kiné Lam, said, “His bass playing caught my attention. I lived not far from him. There was a stadium nearby and once Super Étoile played there. I was too young to go to the concert, I was about five years younger than him, but I sat outside to listen and I cried because of that bass. He was one of the first African musicians to be successful in incorporating advanced electric bass playing into our native music.
He inspired people. And I realized that the bass can be fun: we can do a lot with the instrument. He was already naturally percussive, but when he started to listen to Jaco Pastorius, his sound developed as you can hear in the progression of his work with Youssou N’Dour. He incorporated more funk into our music, as in the song ‘Hey You’ recorded by Youssou in the 1990’s. It was a new way of playing.”
Cheikh Ndoye, a younger bassist who plays for Baaba Maal, said, “Habib’s bass lines were so original, melodic, and harmonically rich. They were very rhythmic. He was the only bass player to come up with that style of playing, Mbalax. He changed the way we young Senegalese musicians created music. We’ve lost one of the most respected African musicians, multi-instrumentalists and composers. He’s no longer here, but his music lives on. And younger musicians will continue to play his music to keep it alive.
He had an incredible vision and an original sound — the hardest thing to find in musicianship. He was unique, and anything he touched in music became stronger. You can recognize him both in his bass playing and in his compositions. We loved him as a musician and as a person. He inspired all of us.”
Dudu Lima was born in 1972, in Brazil. He started to study acoustic bass very young, by himself, and later at the Ian Guest Music Center in Rio de Janeiro. Later, he studied electric bass with Charles Banacus in Boston (USA), attended Berklee College of Music (USA) and workshops with Natan East (bassist of Larry Carlton) and Dave Weckel (drummer of Chick Corea ).
In Brazil, Dudu Lima has participated in dozens of albums from great jazz musicians and performed at the most important jazz festivals like Visa Jazz Festival, ProMusica Jazz Festival , Buzios Patio Havana Instrumental , Rio das Ostras Summer Festival, Ibitipoca Jazz Festival, Festival de Jazz de Friburgo, Festival Internacional de Musica Colonial de Juiz de Fora , Jazz and Blues Rio das Ostras Festival, Blue Tree Bras?lia Jazz Festival.
Abroad, Dudu Lima performed at Montreux Jazz Festival, Brienz Jazz Festival and at Jazz Times Convention in New York.
Dudu Lima composed the overture soundtrack for the Luzes da Cidade Film Festival, the soundtrack for TV documentary Museu Mariano Procopio and had one of his music (Regina) in the theatre piece O Baile Verde. He’s also performed in the soundtracks of the movies A 3a. Morte de Joaqim Boliver and Maria das Graca.
The first CD was Regina, recorded in 2000 and the second one Nossa Historia released in 2003 with the participation of great Brazilian jazz musicians such as Hermeto Pascoal, Jovino Santos Neto, Juarez Moreira, Ivan Conti (Azimuth), Marcio Bahia, among others.
In 2007, Dudu Lima released his DVD and third CD: Dudu Lima Live – 20 Years of Pure Music (Dudu Lima ao vivo – 20 Anos de Pura Musica). This work counts with the special participation of the great North-American guitarist Stanley Jordan and the virtuoso Canadian saxophonist Jean Pierre Zanella.
Nossa História (Mantra, 2003) Ouro de Minas (2009)
Cordas Mineiras (Tratore, 2010)
Ao Vivo No Cine Theatro Central (Blues Time, 2011)
Ouro de Minas 2 – Gran Circo (2015) Tamarear (Som Livre, 2015)
Um Trem Pra Minas (2016)
Dudu Lima Clássicos (2017) Som de Minas (Gravatás, 2017)
Celebrated bluegrass bassist Missy Raines was born April 6, 1962 in Short Gap, West Virginia. She’s had a pioneering, courageous musical career as one of the leading female bass players.
Missy Rained got started with an unanticipated surprise from her father. “My father had been playing a washtub that he’d made himself and then decided impulsively (without consulting my mother) to buy a bass. I was already playing the piano and guitar by then, but when you’re ten or eleven years old and there is a new instrument in the house…well, I couldn’t stay away from it. That’s the bass I still have and play today.”
As a young girl, Raines attended summer music festivals and home picking parties in the winter with her parents. As Raines’ skill improved, she found herself jamming with and then learning from bigger and better players, particularly International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor member Tom Gray (The Country Gentlemen, The Seldom Scene) “I met him through mutual friends when I was 12 and it was one of the biggest deals of my life up to that point,” she recalls. “Tom is an amazing person and he took me under his wing. He says though that I never asked him to show me how to do anything; that I would just talk about how he played. I thought I was picking his brain.”
Raines names her earliest influences as Bill Monroe, The Country Gentleman, The Stanley Brothers, The Bluegrass Alliance, and David Grisman. She later played jazz before discovering the music of Joe Jackson in the early 1980s. “I’d never gotten into the rock, pop scene at all – I’d been affected by it peripherally but not directly. And then I got totally caught up in his music and his writing and a whole new world was suddenly opened up for me.”
Professionally, Raines has participated in a wide-range of projects. She propelled her career with experimental bluegrass ensemble Cloud Valley and toured with Eddie and Martha Adcock before joining up with The Masters (Adcock, Kenny Baker, Josh Graves and Jesse McReynolds).
Raines toured and recorded with Claire Lynch’s Front Porch String Band from 1995-2000 and again from 2005-2008, while creating a successful duo with band mate Jim Hurst. A gig with the Brother Boys opened Raines’ eyes to the value of musical spontaneity.
“If you allow it” says Missy Raines, “music can take people and let them be seen from the inside out. It’s a way of letting people see who you are without having to sit there and talk about yourself. For instance, the title tune contains the sort of changes that life often forces upon you, expressed musically. When I was writing the tune, I was thinking, ‘this all makes really musical sense except this one half-step change here.’ That’s what throws you off. For me that’s what I’ve been through. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, something comes up and surprises you.”
Inside Out by Missy Raines and The New Hip, released in 2009, is the product of Missy Raines 20-year long aspiration. The album, she emphasizes, is a true collaboration between her and her delicately constructed band, The New Hip: Ethan Ballinger, (mandolin/mandola), Michael Witcher (resonator guitar/lap steel/vocals), and Dillon Hodges (guitar/vocals). “I’ve wanted this for a very, very long time. This band and this sound has existed, at least in my head, for almost two decades – it was just a matter of finding musicians that could read my mind.”
Cameroonian bassist and singer-songwriter Richard Bona has a new album titled Heritage, scheduled for release on September 16 in the United States. To promote the album he will be touring the United States in September 2016.
Heritage, Bona’s eighth, is the first with the Afro-Cuban band Mandekan Cubano. This recording follows the roots of Afro-Cuban music back to its origins in the Mandekan Empire of the 15th century and earlier. The music explores the alchemy of African rhythms in Cuba.