Global Bass Online December 2001
by Warren Murchie
We thought we would try something a bit uniqueto Global Bass for this story with Fred Rose. We combined his actual bio with the interview itself, in essence almost like adding dressing to a salad.
Sorry about the food analogy, the author is on a diet! Thered colored text is the bio itself.
Fred’s musical journey began with piano studies during his early teens.
Global Bass: What do you think was the original interest for you in music? Did you come from a musical family?
FRED ROSE: No, my family dabbled in playing music but I’m the only one who took it seriously. I played the clarinet and piano before finding the bass.
Gravitating to bass guitar at the age of seventeen, Fred soon found his piano theory paying off as he began making the rounds playing bass guitar in Boston’s music scene.
GB: Were there a series of events that brought you to playing bass? What was the ‘turning point’ for the lack of a better way of describing it.
Fred: I actually wanted to play guitar and I figured I would start out on bass. I went to a high school dance and saw my first live band playing ‘Slipping into Darkness’ by War. I was really blown away by the sound of the bass.
GB: Was there a longstanding interest or did it one day just seem ‘right’ to pursue the bass.
Fred: I remember really liking it, so much so I practiced hours a day up in my room after school.
GB: Also what kind of bass did you start out on?
Fred: Well, My Dad didn’t want to buy a bass until I proved I would take it seriously. He borrowed an Ovation fretless from his friend, a drummer.
GB: What were the various types of bass instruments that you evolve through.
Fred:After I showed him I was interested in the instrument, I bought a 1959 Gibson EB 2 C and a Fender Bassman white amp.
I finally ended up with a 70 Fender Precision. I really fell in love with the Fender sound. I ended up putting a jazz pickup in it and eventually making it fretless. I have been playing Fenders and Fender inspired Jazz Basses ever since.
GB: What is your current instrument lineup, particularly for this Demo CD?
Fred: I am using an A Bass from Albey Balgochian and my 62 reissue Fender Jazz fretless, both with Lane Poor pickups.
My amp, which I am going direct and miking with a Sennheiser 421 MD is an Aguilar 680 Pre amp, DBX 160 A, Lexicon G2 processor and a Rocktron Velocity power amp thru 2- 2 10 inch cabinets.
Playing in many different bands, he gained considerable experience in everything from rock, progressive rock, to jazz.
Fred remembers, "After hearing ‘Coyote’, by Joni Mitchell, I knew the direction I wanted to go.
GB: What was there about this song that turned your musical life around?
Fred: I’m sure I heard the same thing Joni Mitchell and most musicians heard, Jaco taking away the boundaries of the bass. He showed you could play chords like a keyboard or guitar or lines like a sax. That along with his sound and feel, was the direction I wanted to pursue.
GB: As you listened to it, can you recall now the realizations bringing you to where you are now?
Fred: I really love the role of the bass, coupled with the ability to play chords and harmonics; I found it so much more interesting. I think differently about the harmonic structure, probably from playing piano.
GB: What specific awareness do you feel developed to make you steer your career in a different direction?
Fred: I think when I started to write songs on the bass, my playing started to change, integrating the techniques I use now. I studied with Casey Silverberg, from Berklee, who made me learn and play all the chords, bass lines,melody and solo of every song. This is the basis of my style which centers on chordal arrangements with and with out harmonics.
Fred: The songs on the CD are taken from solo pieces I composed on bass. Dann Glenn asked me if I ever considered playing all the pieces like he has done. I told him I had played keyboards but not for a while. It is quite an undertaking but I really enjoy it. It is really exciting to see the song changing from when I first wrote the piece. It is a lot of work but very rewarding.
Fred also studied with acoustic/fretless bassist Tom Wheeler, who has played with Chet Baker, George Benson, and many others. Fred recalls, "Tom taught me intonation and accompaniment. What a talent he is."
GB: Good teachers know how to speak the particular & unique way a student needs to hear things to understand them. What did Tom do to achieve that end? Why I say that is because he really seemed to make an impression on you. So it not only was his playing, it was his communications skills as well.
Fred: I had started playing fretless and wanted some lessons on technique. Tom, an Acoustic player who also plays fretless, corrected most of my problems in a half an hour. I still use his exercises. He is just a great player and teacher. He has played with so many people and he is so generous to me. Tom really likes my style. That blew me away.
Fred joined an all-original band ’Push the River’ playing with electric violinists, sax, acoustic guitar, bass and congas. Picture the Dave Matthews Band; only with much more free blowing improv.
He ultimately left the band after personnel changes altered the musical direction. Instead of repeating the same scenario again and again, Fred began to record original music. After his first go-round he received some wonderful encouragement from bass great Mark Egan.
GB: Can you tell us the Mark Egan story and how he happened into your life? (He is also the Cover Story for this issue)
What did Mark say to you? To alter the direction of any person takes an integral statement or emotion. What did he do to achieve this?
Fred: Mark is from Brockton Ma. the next town over from me. I met his brother a long time ago and ended up buying Mark’s solo Cds and "Elements’ his band with Danny Gottlieb. I really love his style. He has a beautiful sound and writes great melodies.
Four years ago I recorded some of my songs on a four track, just bass tracks and a drum machine. I don’t know why I sent it to him, I guess to see if I should go on writing. I really did not expect a response, I mean the guy was in Pat Metheny, Gil Evans, Sting, solo albums etc…
He called me up at home and said he really enjoyed my playing and my compositions. I really am speechless that he took the time to call a new player. That really was a monumental point in my life.
Then as the universe would have it, an interesting twist of fate occurred. Fred recounts, "I started rehearsing with a new band to keep my chops up while using this group to record some new material. During this time I happened to meet fretless monster Dann Glenn. It was like a light going on for me. Dann is famous not only for his imposing chops, but for being super honest. He answered every question I posed without worrying if he was hurting my feelings, because he wanted me to understand certain realities about composition. Dann has changed my entire concept of music. He has made me rethink everything. Experiencing his music made me realize if I chose, I could do all the parts. This is quite an undertaking. Not only practicing bass, writing, programming drums, keyboards and learning how to record on computer DAW’s, but as Dann says ‘really digging down inside and expressing myself.’ Mr. Glenn has taught me to be a musician and a composer. He has made me push myself in all aspects of being a musician and to have the fire of creativity. Dann has been always supportive and nurturing. I don’t know how I was so lucky to meet him. He’s one of the funniest, scariest, and kindest artists I’ve ever known. I’ve learned as many have first hand why they call him the Mad Professor of Bass."
Fred: Dann Glenn, like Mark Egan, is another very giving musician. He has always helped newer players and is truly genuine. Even though I curse him often for all the work he has got me into, I have grown the most as a musician and composer because of him. Healways has been there for me and I am ever indebted to his kindness as a person and a musician.
Fred has had to put his solo CD temporarily on hold as he was just commissioned to write music for Native American Flute. This project will encompass two CD’s .The first will be a ‘music minus one’ CD, for flautists to practice improvisation. The second will feature Jerry Lagadec on flutes.
GB: Is this series still ongoing? Have you finished it already or where are you in the building of this venture? Do you feel this is an interesting and positive item to add to your resume?
Fred: I was honored when Jerry Lagadec asked me to write songs for this project. We are doing it for High Spirits Flutes and Odell Borg. I write very melodically with a lot of space, which is what they are looking for. I am really enjoying it since I have certain parameters I have to write for. I still get to express myself.
It will be available at the 2001 NAMM show in January.
Fred lists his main influences as Jaco Pastorius, Dann Glenn, Mark Egan, Michael Manring, and Paul Denman from Sade.
He feels his forte is writing hooks for vocalists such as Paul Denman. "Jamerson and Jaco always made their bass parts integral in the song but never overbearing."
GB: What did you do to develop this skill? Also, what elements made you realize that you had strength in this area? Do you feel you could possibly parley this skill into positive aspects not only for your own writing but also perhaps as a source of work with other artists for the future? Do you think I have enough questions here? Yeesh!
Fred: I think because I combine the melody with the bass line and the harmony. I try to weave them all together without being the center of attention. I really like to write hooks and counter melodies. I would like to find a female vocalist with some great songs; I really find it to be a lot of fun. It is like writing a song within a song.
Fred’s future is a bright one to be sure. He has chosen the most challenging path a bassist can take. That of a player, and a composer.
Fred can be contacted at:http://www.myspace.com/frederickjrose (2009 - NEW UPDATE!)
We will keep you posted when he resumes and releases his first solo album.
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