"A View of the Role of the Bass" by Steve Khan

    Having grown-up in the '50s and '60s, I have seen the possibilities of the bass, both acoustic and electric, expanded to new heights. Today's level of virtuosity is astounding - and, of course, I admire that greatly.

    However, for me, Job #1 for a bassist, is simply to play the bass, just be the bassist in the band!Steve Khan Mark Wohlrab Photo Style App Jagged Make the music feel good, make it swing/groove. Have a big full, round sound, and supply the depth and bottom that any band needs to present their music in the best possible way. IF a bassist can solo, even play wonderfully melodic solos, this, to me, is a bonus - but not always essential. In the end, we are all there to do one thing, and that is this: Serve the music, serve the song!!! It's that simple.

    I probably have had the closest and deepest musical relationship with Anthony Jackson. All that I have become as a player, I owe to my work during the early '80s with Anthony, Steve Jordan and Manolo Badrena. They taught me how to listen, how to MAKE MUSIC with my bandmates, .....how to break down the boundaries of the traditional ways of viewing how music is constructed and played. Within the context of our group, the music became conversational, and I grew comfortable in that approach. It can be risky, but the rewards are worth it.

    On my own recordings, in addition to Anthony, I have had the privilege of wonderful musical relationships with Will Lee; John Patitucci (Ac. Bass); Ron Carter; and now Rubén Rodríguez(El. Bass & Baby Bass). While touring during the '90s, I was very fortunate to have played with Jay Anderson, Scott Colley, Larry Grenadier, and Drew Gress. The acoustic bassists that I know are all wonderfully conversational players with a superb sense of harmony. For me, on the electric bass, this is much harder to find.

    My message to the young bassist, especially the young electric bassist, is to focus more on Job #1, and not to worry so much about being the fastest bass player in the world. Don't be so preoccupied with competing in "THE BASS OLYMPICS"!!! Ask yourself, "How can I help the music sound better, swing harder?" You can't go wrong if you are trying to do those things.

- Steve Khan

[Photo: Steve Khan by Mark Wohlrab
Style® App.: Jagged Treatment]