Long a go-to bassist in Portland, Ed Bennett’s solid sound has provided a rhythm that adds to any jazz performance, including those from his own CDs. KMHD Jazz Radio’s Deborah DeMoss Smith talked with him how he feels when he’s performing, his love of Brazilian music, and why he’s a “green player.”
Deborah DeMoss Smith: What’s the one word that describes how you feel when you’re performing?
Ed Bennett: I don’t know. Can it be two words [laugh]? The “real deal.” I think some people have said that because of the way I play the bass. I’m a green player — playing acoustically I’m saving energy for PGE, saving a couple of watts when I play for energy conservation! I just like the sound of the real acoustic bass. When I started playing the bass and got into high school, the thing was to have your pickup and amplifier and I never bought into that. I did it, but never liked it. I’ve been playing the way I play for the last 30 years now.
DDS: You run into four bassists — Paul Chambers, Ray Brown, Oscar Pettiford and Leroy Vinnegar — but you can only talk to one. Which one?
EB: Paul Chambers. He’s at the top of the list for me as a bassist. All those have been an inspiration, but he’s the one I most identify with. The way he approached the accompanying people he played with and his solos. To me they were really soulful. Oscar Pettiford is a close second. I used to see Ray Brown when I was growing up. I have the book he wrote.
DDS: Who would you be if you weren’t Ed Bennett?
EB: Lee Morgan, the way he played and the full sound that he got, his expression. Just the feeling I got when I listened to trumpeter Lee Morgan. It’s different. It’s a sound that he got that you can tell that’s it’s him. It’s hard to explain.
DDS: What music do you like, besides jazz, that might surprise people?
EB: Brazilian music. Also, funk stuff. I like to listen to early funk stuff. Not so much playing it myself — though certain occasions I do — that and mainly Brazilian music. The stuff I hear on YouTube, the sambas and stuff they’re playing nowadays.
DDS: Other than the bass, what instrument do you appreciate the most?
EB: It’s a close call between trumpet and trombone. I’ve always wanted to play trombone; that’s always been a desire, but I haven’t done it. If I wasn’t playing bass, I’d play trombone with the same range as far as the bass, as far as soloing. I like the range, the sound and the timbre of the trombone. I listen to J.J. Johnson and Frank Rosolino. I had a valve trombone for years that I bought, but I never did anything with it. But my son plays trombone!