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Ross Krutsinger

 

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Going Native

By Brent-Anthony Johnson
 


I met Ross Krutsinger in 1997 when he called to study with me as a student at Robbsí Music on Canyon, in Boulder, Colorado.  Since then, the talented bass/keyboard ďdoublerĒ has made his way onto the stage and into the studio with most of the artists in the Denver Metropolitan Area, and his list of recording credits grows in leaps and bounds on an annual basis.  A recent convert to the six-string bass guitar, Ross is also in the midst of recording his premier solo disc and he will begin taking the stage in support of his release in the forthcoming months!

 

Ross and I got together in early September to discuss his career and the new disc.  While we talked, we reminisced about our first meetings and looked together into the prospective future of this fantastic playerÖ

 

BAJ:   Whatís happeniní, Homie!  We havenít had a chance to chat in quite some time, but Iíve noticed that your career has really taken off!  Thatís very cool, and it couldnít happen to a nicer Dude.  Letís begin by talking about your impossible sideman schedule, and who youíre playing with now.

 

RK:   Hey BAJ!  Well... In addition to writing and recording for my own project, I try to take gigs in all styles of music.  I have been working with the Sherrie Scott band (R&B) and I am going to record with that band, next month. Iíve also been playing keyboards with Latin Jazz group, Echo Bay.  Iíve done gigs with them every once in a while for the last 6 years as well as a guest bass appearance on their album. I also have been playing bass in a trio with a great jazz guitarist named Bard Hoff, playing occasionally with the reggae band Djateí (as a keyboardist), playing bass with folk-rock singer/songwriter Linette Mae, playing bass in a Sunday worship band, as well as subbing on country, funk, rock, and blues gigs.

 

BAJ:  I think you were one of the first Native Boulderites that I had met.  Tell us about growing up in Boulder, and how you got turned onto the bass guitar.

 

RK:  Being a relatively small town with lots to do, Boulder was a great place to grow up.  I lived in the foothills outside of Boulder as a kid and learned to entertain myself since the few other kids around lived pretty far away. The thing I liked to do was play music.  I started out playing piano at about age 7 and eventually got into electric guitar at 14.  I have always loved a good groove and have always been intrigued by certain bass phrases when I listened to musicÖ So, I eventually bought a bass early in college. I learned the bass really quickly courtesy of my keyboard and guitar knowledge.  It also helped that I was

playing keys for a band with much older, seasoned players to intensify my musical focus.  Having great players around me all the time encouraged me to shoot for higher musical targets.  Some of the first bass lines I really studied were reggae lines from that band.

 

BAJ:  While weíre on the subjectÖ Letís talk about the Boulder scene, and what a music fan can expect to find here.

 

RK:  Hosting the annual Gavin Summit convention, Boulder is strongly rooted in the AAA radio format and I would say that this is a good indicator of what people support.  The bands that do well in Boulder typically play jam-music, bluegrass, reggae, or blues. But, it seems that more people are getting tired of the same music because salsa and Latin nights are popular as well as acid-jazz open stages. 

Original rock is still not well received, and for straight-ahead jazz, R&B/soul, hard rock, country, etc., youíd be better off in Denver. 

The abundance of 20-somethings and college students is great as is the growing interest in quality music.  There are now several venues that feature live music 7 nights a week.  Also, I think club owners are more willing now to pay better money for a good band instead of hiring the cheapest chumps in town, as was

the practice a few years ago.  Nevertheless, there are a lot of people in town, especially the long-time

Boulderites, who would much rather eat dinner out and have a couple of bottles of tasty wine than go see live musicóBoulderís population is somewhat split that way.

 

BAJ:  You are part of a couple interesting concert series with the artists you play with.  Letís talk about those, and also about the better concert halls in this area.

 

RK:  Iíve been doing some concerts with Echo Bay, a Latin-jazz group that I really enjoy.  The leaders are perfectionists and the material is production-intensive so it requires a lot of preparation time, but the end

result is worth it. The group has been playing many of the summer festivals and some of the Denver jazz clubs.   I also have played quite a few shows with Linette Mae, a singer-songwriter who has a folk/rock sound.   She has been doing a lot of shows for record labels in addition to some acoustic trio

performances.  

As far as the better venues in town, I always enjoy playing the Fox Theater in Boulder.   It is the best sounding venue in Boulder, and many touring acts who come through town rave about it.  The Fox also owns the club next door, Tulagi, and books many good bands there that have a smaller draw.  Boulder

also has Trilogy and ĎRound Midnight - which are both venues that feature live music.  The Gothic

Theater in Denver is nice as well.  For the smaller rooms, I like playing at Sambuca jazz club (Denver), the Soiled Dove (Denver), and the Little Bear (Evergreen).  Those three rooms are very intimate, with good sound, lights, and atmosphere.

 

BAJ:  Before we go onÖ Tell us about the benefits of growing up in a town like Boulder.  Also, tell us what you feel you may have missed out on, as a result of growing up here.

 

RK:  Boulder, for the most part is pretty laid-back and people are able to live whatever lifestyle they want.  If youíre into the outdoors and being active, like I am, Boulder is great for that.  Itís a healthy town with tons of great restaurants.  It is also close to the  Denver metro area, Fort Collins and the ski towns.  Itís a large enough town to have all the amenities, but not so large that it is a hassle to enjoy it, although it is getting quite congested with SUVs, and luxury cars.  One major disadvantage about growing up in Boulder is that it is very white and lacks cultural diversity.  Also, this area doesnít have much of a music industry presence, and has a pretty limited recording and live music market. 

Additionally, since everything is more spread out here, if youíre not careful, you may spend more time driving between gigs than actually playing them (laughter).

 

BAJ:  (laughter) You just sent me a copy of your ďWork In ProgressĒ CDR.  Thanks!  It sounds great!  Youíre taking a few notable directions (World Beat & Melodic Instrumental) that are a departure from the type of work youíre known for.  How did that come about, and what direction are you moving into these days?

 

RK:   Well, Iíve always enjoyed playing and writing in those styles, itís just that not many people know that side of meÖ yet!  It is similar to how I am known to the bands with which I workóa lot of people that know me as a bassist forget that I play keyboards, and vice versa.  I really enjoy using influences from a wide variety of styles and mixing them together, as I also do live.  My song, Wicked Road is a good example of that.  It has a one-drop drum beat, a fretless bass line, jazz keyboard voicings, and some blues

influences here and there.  I seem to write a lot in the jazz-fusion/funk/R&B format and will probably continue to do so.  I also really like to write in different time signatures -  5/4 and 7/8 are both favorites.  Iím also working on straight-ahead jazz, rock, and blues songs at the moment for this project and others.  Instrumental songs will always be part of my sound, but as my vocal abilities improve, I am writing to accommodate that more and more.

 

BAJ:  The last time we were able to hang out together was the Grand Opening of Keith Music, in Longmont, CO.  Are you still teaching there?  Please let our readers in Colorado know how to contact you for lessons!

 

RK:  George Keith is a great guy!  Iím taking students at Keith Music as well as at Guitars Etc., both of which are in Longmont. 

 

BAJ:  Are you going to support the disc through live performances?

 

RK:  Live performance will definitely be part of my plan, although I donít have anything in concrete at the moment.  I really enjoy playing live and to have a song list that incorporates my material as well as other songs I really enjoy playing would be a lot of fun.  Iíll most likely mix my tunes in with a bunch of fusion, R&B, and up-beat jazz standards.

 

BAJ:  Youíre voice on the solo disc is split between fretted 6, fretless 4, and keyboard.  How do you plan to reproduce the tunes in a live format?

 

RK:   I will play bass live, switching between fretted and fretless.  Iíll hire a strong jazz keyboard player that also has a great funk feel.  Some of the arrangements involve two bass parts simultaneously.  I will play one part, while the keyboard player or a guitarist plays the other part.  Many of the melodies are keyboard parts on the recordings, but Iíll likely spread the melodies around the band for live performance.  Iíd really like to have a sax or trumpet player on stage as well.  I have all the ideal players thought out in my head, but having them available when itís time to play will determine the final line-up.  Itís a good thing Iím not a selfish player because there will be many times when Iím just laying down a groove and having one of the

other instruments take the spotlight.  I really look forward to hitting the stage with this material.

 


BAJ:  We were talking recently about your recent conversion to ďthe Big 6Ē Ė something we discussed several times before your move.  Thatís great!  How did your formal piano training influence your move to the 6-string fretted bass?  

RK:   Having a strong theoretical background on the keyboards has been very helpful to my bass playing.  Since I am familiar with building chords and how they sound when played in various inversions, or in an open versus closed voicing is useful for outlining chord progressions on the bass.  Thinking in terms of a chordal approach works very well for me, and the 6-string bass accommodates that nicely.  It is very easy when outlining notes from upper chord extensions to become out of reach on a 4 string, and playing them in a lower register often sounds too muddy.  The extended range of the six allows me to play some of that harmony without major fretboard shifts.

 

BAJ:  I also think itís really cool that youíve decided to employ the fretless 4-string Ė in conjunction with the fretted 6.  As we discussed I played 4-string fretless for years, before moving to the 6 fretless.  I really dug that approach to the separate (but similar) instruments.  Do you think keeping the 4 fretless and 6 fretted separated in your brain has helped you to develop your voice on the 6 fretted?

 

RK:   Although the two basses share a lot of the same territory, I definitely use two different approaches when playing the 4 and the 6. Itís quite refreshing to just get back to the 4 string because it forces a different way to play certain lines. Similarly, the 6 offers a lot of freedom that allows me to play different phrases and voicings.  Having the two approaches opens up different ideas and that this has influenced my voice on the fretted 6 as well as giving me new ideas on the 4 string.

 

BAJ:  Tell us about your gear, and your gear goals for the next year.

 

RK:   Iím using a Peavey Cirrus 6 string fretted (redwood over alder), and a custom Surine fretless 4 (walnut body, ebony board) as my primary basses.  I also still have some of my 5s still hanging around that Iíll break out occasionally.  I play live without any effects through an Aguilar DB680 preamp and DB720 poweramp for most gigs, but for the really quiet gigs Iíll use a SWR SM-400s.  In the studio I use the Aguilar DB680 or my Evil Twin tube preamp to go direct to tape, in addition to miking my cabinet, sometimes going through a nice tube compressor on the way.  For the next year I am going to finish and release my CD and start assembling players for the live work.  Iíd like to be out performing with this material relatively soon.

 

BAJ:  Youíre also a huge proponent of Aguilar amplifiers.  What do you like so much about them?

 

RK:   The one thing I really love about Aguilar gear is the incredible tone that I get when I play through them.  I used some pretty decent tube/solid state hybrid gear in the past without complaints, but once I started playing through the Aguilar I was blown away, as was everybody on my gigs.  I never knew what I was missing until I tried the Aguilar amps.  Those things are extremely well built as well, which is a requirement of mine.  Although I teat my equipment very well, I canít tolerate unreliable crap that is

prone to breaking down.

 

BAJ:  Tell us about your bass enclosure set-up.

 

RK:   Currently I have a BagEnd D10BXD 2x10 cabinet and an EV 4x10 cabinet.  Iíll mix and match them as needed for each gig.  I like the sound I get when I combine the tubes with a crystal-clear speaker cabinet such as the BagEnd.  Iím happy with my gear, but I would really like to try the Wayne Jones cabinets!

 

Editorís Note: Iíll have to let you borrow mine for a few upcoming gigs, Ross!  The WJís are absolutely the best bass enclosures Iíve ever played! Check Wayne out at: http://www.waynejonesamplification.com.au/current/intro.html

 

BAJ:  Are you playing any tours this year?

 

RK:   I was called to do a 12-day tour in Africa, but as it turned out, music was a secondary motive.  If Iím going to be away from home, I want to be in a focused musical situation, so I turned the Africa trip down.  I would like to do some touring though, so if the right call comes in, Iíll probably hit the road for a bitÖ but I donít have anything planned right now.

 

BAJ:  Along with the CDR of your project, you sent the URL to your website!  Tell our readers where they can get to your site. 

 

RK:  Yes, my website is http://www.digagroove.com/ Check it out!  Right now the site is pretty basic, but is going to have some major modifications in the future so I can incorporate audio clips and have more control over the appearance of the site.

 

BAJ:  Finally, tell our readers about your other hobbies, and where youíre most likely to be seen in the coming months!

 

RK:   When Iím not playing music Iím usually hanging out with my wife and dogs.  You may find me on the golf course, riding Harleys, working out, or hiking.  Iíll be working with Echo Bay some more (www.echobayjazz.com), playing jazz, and freelancing around the Denver metro area.  People can also visit me at the music stores where I teach, or drop me a line at the website to get current gig schedules.

 

Thanks Ross!  Check out Rossí website, and see him on the gig if you get a chance!  Ross is a fine player and Iím certain you wonít be disappointed.  After all these years of knowing him, he remains an engaging and very approachable player.

 

 

Brent-Anthony Johnsonís group Sonal Anu is currently in session and the completion of their first disc, ďSleep DrumĒ will be completed by early October!  BAJ is an endorsing artist for Aguilar Amplification, HotWires Strings, LINE 6, PRO TEC, Status Graphite Basses, and Wayne Jones bass enclosures.  Check him out at: www.myspace.com/brentanthonyjohnson


 

 

 

 

                                  

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