ALL ABOUT THAT BASS

As he plays The Whale on Friday 29th, Michael Janisch goes back to his roots

The man is a MOBO-nominated solo artist, the founder of the hip Whirlwind Recordings label, and now Michael Janisch is leading one of the hottest young jazz outfits in the UK.

The fact that their influences range from Fela Kuti to Aphex Twin – as demonstrated on their new album, Worlds Collide – may have something to do with their popularity too.

Playing The Whale on Friday, April 29th as part of the Bray Jazz Festival, we asked Michael just when the music bug first bit…

When I was four my mom bought a piano to take lessons, and so I started noodling around on it. At one point my parents realized I could hear a melody and play it back, that I had perfect pitch. After that my Dad used to bet his friends €20 that his son could go out of the room and they could play any combination of notes on the piano, and I would come back in the room having not seen them, and play them back in the exact order they played them.

I made him some good money until at one point they decided to get me piano lessons. From there I’ve been in music ever since, and started electric bass at 10 years old, taking lessons in the closet of the kitchen at my local grade school. I’ll never forget the first bass line that I was taught was the line to Daytripper by the Beatles and some years later I was playing on stage and Sir Paul McCartney was in the audience, and on the break he called me up to talk and he was very kind about his assessment of my playing, and I was able to tell him that his line was the first I ever learned.

He immediately said, “Sure you could play the line but could you sing all the words at the same time?” I replied instantly, “Well, no..”, and he then immediately quipped, “Well, then, you didn’t really learn the tune, did you?”

In 5th grade I started getting into the improv, blues, black Americana, jazz, roots music as a result of my great teacher Harvey Halpaus. He used to give me tapes (yes, tapes) of many famous bassists, from Charles Mingus to Dave Holland, to Carol Kaye to Jaco Pastorius, and I’ve never looked back.

Compounded with my mother’s amazing vinyl collection and love of Motown, I was hooked for life on anything that had a great bass line mixed with improvisation.

 

Cover pic: Carl Hyde

 

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