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Kim Stone


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By Brent-Anthony Johnson


Kim Stone has been bringing his incredible voice on the electric and acoustic basses to the public ear for years – ever since his days with Spyro Gyra – and each offering is more profound than the last!  In 1989, he released his first solo disc, “Earth School”, and then went on to perform with the Rippington’s, a group he continues to perform with.  The latest from the L.A. “light jazz” outfit is a live offering that makes great use of Kim’s killin’ thumb style, and sublime fretless forays.

Kim presented the jazz community with “More Often Than Not”, in 1999, and he is currently working on a new release with his Big Butt Trio.  Kim returned to Colorado, after more than a decade in California, just after the release of “More Often…”

These days, he and his family are happily living near Colorado Springs, and Kim is playing with his trio in the more notable jazz clubs in and around the Denver Metropolitan area (particularly, the Denver Downtown club, Jazz@Jack’s). 

As much as he is successful – as an established sideman and member of the Rippington’s – he is also an incredibly accomplished player and composer.  Kim sights Charles Mingus as his greatest inspiration, and writes with intelligence and skill that is far beyond many of the bassists on the scene in this age of the super-bassist.  Kim’s writing and fretless playing on such tunes as his “Why Did You Go” (a personal favorite), and his menacing thumb-style approach to another of his compositions, “Silver” comprises enough ability for two completely different players.  Yet, this, and much more, comes effortlessly pouring out of a man who’s unassuming disposition puts a soul to immediate rest.  The only trapping of the man’s success lies in the fact that it is immediately recognized that he doesn’t want (or need) what anyone else has.  Kim Stone, is a breath of fresh air.

I met-up with Kim recently, and here’s what transpired…


BAJ:  Hey, hey!  Thanks for taking a few minutes to talk with us, Kim!  Let’s get started…  One of the coolest things about you approach to the bass guitar is your abundant use of chords.  Would you tell us about your approach, and particularly your right hand technique when playing chords?   

KHS: I prefer playing chords on my 6 string bass. The voicings are further apart which creates a nicer full body sound. I use a finger picking technique with my right hand, like a guitar player, and I'll add thumbing at the same time for the low notes.

BAJ:  You recorded “More Often Than Not” at a number of studios around LA.  But, you recorded your trio here in Colorado.  Do you have a home studio these days?  

KHS:  Yes I have a home studio which consists of two ADAT black face recorders linked up to a MOTU 828 digital interface and a G-4. I've been acquiring some good microphones as of late so my studio is really coming together. My console is a Mackie 24/4 and I use a pair of Yamaha NS 10M speakers. 

BAJ:  I really dug the “Big Butt Trio”!  Great tunes! Tell our readers about who’s in the trio and what’s happening next. KHS: I'm glad you like my new Trio CD. I do too! The trio consists of Jimmy Mahlis on guitar, Toss Panos on drums and myself on electric bass. Jimmy has been playing with Russell Ferrante of the Yellow Jackets most recently and Toss is recording and now touring with guitarist Michael Landau. Both are great players and both brought in a lot of great music to the session. Besides a number of originals of Jimmy's and a band co-wite, (the title song "Big ), we recorded the Thelonius Monk tune " Let's Cool One" and the Beatles tune  "Dig a Pony."  It's a mix swing, funk and rock.

BAJ:  You have done much to showcase the bass guitar and acoustic contra bass, Kim.  There are times in the trio that is sounds like 2 guitars comping together – due to your knowledge of chords.  That’s so bad, man!  Anyway… Do you write from the basses?  Or, do you also write from piano?   Furthermore, how did your style develop and where should bassist go to “get it”?  

KHS:  I compose all my tunes on the bass so the bass guitar chords are there from the beginning. I don't play the piano and I know more chords on the bass than I do on the guitar so it has always been the way I've done things. I guess I developed my bass style due to the lack of my abilities on any other instrument, thus leaving me alone again with my bass. :) So I guess the way to develop this style you need to have a lot of free time on your hands, and a bass in them and the lack of knowledge of most everything else. 

BAJ:  Sorry to bombard you with a lot of questions.  But, there’s a lot going on in your music.  Let’s take a moment to site your influences (I know Charles Mingus is HUGE!) and tell us what these players mean to you, and why…  

KHS:  Charles Mingus was my main man when I was coming up. There was something so personal to me about his playing and music I had to dive into his stuff and try to make sense of it in my own way. Also Ron Carter and Jimmy Garrison were, are still very important to me. I started on electric bass but shortly afterwards picked up the upright bass and fell madly in love with it.The first cats on electric bass that influenced me were Michael Henderson with the Miles Davis band, Noel Redding who played with Jimmy Hendrix, Stanley Clark whom I saw play in Boulder with Chick Corea and or course Jaco whom I also saw play in Boulder. Every great bass player that I've heard play live has given me something that I could take home and try to apply to my own playing. 

BAJ:  I want to take a moment to comment… Your teenage daughter did the artwork for “More Often Than Not”, and she joins you on the pretty tune “I Will”.  As we’ve known each other a long time, I know that tunes like “I Will” are part of your sense of humor as well as they are part of what you have to say.  Please tell us about that tune, and where your arrangement of it came from.

KHS:  The Beatles song "I Will" has always been a favorite of mine but when my good friend and great guitarist Larry Wilkins passed away from cancer during the time I was recording "More Often Than Not" and the lyric from "I Will,"  "Who knows how long I've loved you, you know I always will,"  made me think only of him so I had to do the song on my CD.  I initially was planning on being the only voice on "I Will" but after trying to sing it for quite some time by myself I felt it wasn't good enough so I asked my then10 year old daughter Kalia to sing with me with the hope of capturing the right feeling. I first had her sing just the bridge and it sounded so good I asked her to sing the whole song, making it a duet with me. She loved Larry, and she has always loved the Beatles. 

BAJ:  Unlike yourself, I find many composing bassist are afraid to say some of the things you say musically.  I want to take a moment to thank you for being yourself – adamantly so, at times.  Back to the questions…  Your tone is really unique: clear, and yet deep and powerful.  What instruments are you using, and what’s in your rig?  

KHS:  I've been using  Roscoe basses for a long time now and they're great but I'm now endorsing Fender basses. They have the manly low end and they really stand out in the mix. For bass rig I use Euphonic Audio amp and speakers. Again, the manly low end. 

BAJ:  I have to ask… I’ve been seeing you in Fender ads lately, after a long association with Roscoe extended range basses.  Will there be a ‘Kim Stone Signature Bass’ from Fender soon?  What’s happening with that?

KHS:  My hope is to have Fender make a Kim Stone signature 6 string bass someday. We'll see.

BAJ:  You are also a fine acoustic bass player and you’ve been playing a lot of acoustic in your trio.   Have you featured the upright in the Rippington’s, or is that instrument more of a personal statement away from that environment?  

KHS:  Yes, I have recorded a couple of songs on acoustic bass for the Rippingtons. My next solo CD will feature the acoustic bass.I'll keep you posted Tony. 

BAJ:  Speaking of “The Ripps”, what’s happening next with that group?  I understand that most recent disc is a LIVE disc.  Will we see another studio release with Kim Stone playing basses?  

KHS:  The newest Rippingtons CD is called "Live Across America" and I'm very happy with how it turned out. Got a good bass mix on that one, and a good solo too!  Russ Freeman is doing a solo CD at this time which means it will be to his advantage not to have any Rippingtons play on it, so this year I skip playing on the newest studio effort but I'm proud of the live one. 

BAJ:  Before we go further, could you break-down the tune you wrote for your wife, “Susan Rene” and it’s chordal foundation?  

KHS:  Susan Rene is a tune that is basicly made up of chords that use the 3rd of the chord as the bass note. Or slash chords. First chord being  B+5 over E flat. The 3rd in the bass voicing is one that I always enjoyed the sound of and when I figured out some fingerings for it on the bass it inspired me to write the song for my wife, Susan Rene. 

BAJ:  What brought you back to Colorado, after all those years in California?  

KHS:  My folks are here, my roots are here and I wasn't playing that much jazz in L.A. It's a funny thing but if you play with a major band people think you're always on the road, which of course isn't true.  I'm hooked up with a good jazz scene here in Co. Springs and have been really working on my upright chops. I also was lucky to hook up with a wonderful drummer that plays with the Air Force band here in Co. Springs and we've put a band together called the Corner Stone Quartet. His name is Henrique DeAlmedia and he's a monster! 

BAJ:  How can folks find your discs?  

KHS:  People can find my CD's at which is my record company's web site, or at my live gigs including the Rippingtons shows. 

BAJ:  As we draw to a close… What should bassist learn and know, and how does one go about landing a great sideman gig?  

KHS:  To land a good gig is truly about being in the right place at the right time but what I've been learning lately is that its better to create your own scene than to be a follower hoping for another to give you something of value. If you have a hot scene going for yourself it will attract those folks who have good gigs to offer to you. 

BAJ:  What’s next for you, man?  Also, at the end of your playing career (say, another 40 years?) what do you want people to hear in your playing?  

KHS:  I hope to be remembered for my melodic approach and the heart that I put into the groove. 

Kim Stone, is a wonderful human being.  His playing is extraordinary in the sense that playing comes from his soul. Everything he plays in profound, because he openly shares how, and how, he thinks.  I have Kim’s discs, and I play them often – even when I’m not studying!  Kim Stone plays music.  Thank you, Kim.  

Kim Stone  


Bassist and composer Brent-Anthony Johnson recently released his premier disc as a leader.  Brent-Anthony endorses Status Graphite basses, Hot Wires strings, Wayne Jones bass enclosures, and Aguilar Amplifiers.  






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