March 3, 2024

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Jimmy Haslip, jazz bassist: The albums that shaped my career: Video, Photo

Bassist Jimmy Haslip has been a fixture on the jazz scene since the late ’70s. He teamed up with Russell Ferrante for Robben Ford’s solo album The Inside Story, and the result was the Yellowjackets – the jazz-rock group with which he was associated for 33 years.

It stemmed from a decision Haslip made in junior high school. “In seventh grade, I was turned on to play with my buddies. They needed a bass player for a pool party. It was just a blast. In a way I fell into all this,” he tells us.

“I was exposed to a lot of different music from a very young age, big band to Latin, salsa, Latin jazz. My brother was 10 years older. At 7, I just started trumpet in elementary school, and my brother played Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, [Dave] Brubeck, [Eric] Dolphy, [John] Coltrane, [Thelonious] Monk. I was not understanding but was listening. Plus classical like Mozart, Stravinsky, Brahms, Prokofiev, Shostakovich.”

Since those early days, Jimmy Haslip become one of the most in-demand bassists on the scene. After leaving the Yellowjackets in 2012, he teamed up with Jeff Lorber in his band Jeff Lorber Fusion, composing, performing and producing with him. Haslip also reprised his early Yellowjackets work with Ford and drummer Vinnie Colatuia in Jing Chi, and has released several solo recordings.

So it makes sense that his taste runs the gamut, from jazz stalwarts Miles Davis and Duke Ellington to the Beatles, the Hollies, Motown, Wilson Pickett, even long-ago pop stars like Andy Williams and Doris Day. Get him talking about music and he’ll go on and on, strafing across genres and performers, whether it’s Cold Blood, Dreams, the Good Rats or Nazz.

Getting him to narrow it down to three recordings was (as you’ll see) quite a challenge:

MOTOWN – “ANYTHING”: James Jamerson (the usual bassist for many Motown recordings) was a prime influence on my playing early on. Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” the Temptations, the Four Tops, the Supremes – I’d learn those parts. He was my major influence. He had a voice.

PROGRESSIVE ROCK – “VARIOUS, ESPECIALLY YES”: Yes, Genesis, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull. As I grew older, those were a little more complex. Really neat pieces of music. Growing up in New York, I saw a lot of live music at the Fillmore, Academy of Music, jazz clubs, Madison Square Garden, the Bitter End. During those formative years, in the back of my mind I thought, “I’d love to be doing that.” Fragile was groundbreaking for me. I loved Chris Squire. It was innovative. I liked the way he constructed bass lines.

JIMI HENDRIX – AXIS: BOLD AS LOVE (1967): I also have to throw in Axis: Bold As Love. I was constantly learning music. The Allmans, Hendrix, Cream. At 18, I was in a Top 40 band – now I was a professional musician.

Jimmy Haslip: Lessons w/ Jaco Pastorius - YouTube

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