You and I have a common appreciation for Portland bassist Leroy Vinegar.
He was one of the first bassists that I’d heard on record. My father was a big jazz fan and he would bring albums home all the time. We’d actually go hang out in record stores for fun. He bought this album, Gerry Mulligan and Ben Webster, and Leroy Vinnegar was in the rhythm section. And for a kid – 11 or so – I just appreciated it. I really remember being struck by his sound and the way he was audible and present throughout that. It’s something that not all bass players have.
If you could go back in time and play in another musical era, what era would that be?
I’d like to be in New York in the ‘50s and ‘60s and I’d like to be in New Orleans in the early 20th century. There are certain periods in the history of the music where, in retrospect, you could see a lot of different postures that culminated in that moment that changed drastically the different foundations in the way we play this music today. For me, as a bassist, what Ron Carter did in the ‘60s, what Charlie Haden did with Ornette, it’s still the foundation for contemporary bass playing in jazz. In New Orleans: Kid Ory, Louis Armstrong’s Hot 5 and Hot 7, where they were moving from the sousaphone to the double bass.
Other than the bass, what other instrument do you love?
Drums. It’s the coordination thing. I play one instrument but drummers are playing at least four instruments at the same time. That’s really crazy. Also, the drummer is the real leader of the band in a way that can make or break the band. There’s a lot at stake in playing drums in a professional setting. It’s hard to do well, as there’s so much nuance and skill. When it’s done well, it’s magic.
Where do you see yourself in a decade?
It’s hard to say. Ten years ago I wouldn’t have been able to know, to predict where I am now, what I’m able to do now, the musical experiences I’m sharing with people all over the world and exceeding all my dreams and expectations. So I’d rather not know. I want to keep it open and keep learning.