Jimmy Haslip: Amperes Beyond The BASSics, Part 1

Jim Worsley By

Sign in to view read count
AAJ: Yeah it made a lot of sense to expand and share their fan bases and grow them both.

JH: Yes, and that is exactly what has happened. It was compelling enough for both fan bases to be curious and want to check it out. On top of that, I think we made a really nice record.

AAJ: It's an excellent record. Sometimes when you bring artists together like this or you do the all-star band thing, you end up having guys holding back trying to leave room for someone else and it really doesn't work too well. But one thing I really like about Eleven is that it sounds like Mike being Mike and Jeff being Jeff. They both played through and contributed nicely on each other's songs.

JH: That's great that you heard it that way. That is part of my job as the co-producer to make that happen. No holding back, just going for it. I am really proud of being the catalyst for this collaboration. We took it on the road and had a ball doing some live shows together.

AAJ: Clearly, you did indeed. I had the pleasure of seeing the ensemble in Phoenix at the Musical Instrument Museum in December (2019) with Stern, Lorber, Dave Weckl, and Leni Stern. Early in the year I caught you at the Catalina Jazz Club in Los Angeles with Weckl and Oz Noy. No doubt a tight and explosive rhythm section with you and Weckl together. Two very different fusion guitarists. Both amazing, but stylistically coming from different places. How does that difference factor in your playing, in your note selections, in your level of improvisation or approach?

JH: In both cases I play pretty similarly with those guys. They are the difference factor. They are what changes the tone of the music and what we are playing. It depends too on what they are doing on a given night. They both have a lot of improvisational areas. It depends also on Dave Weckl. Dave has his own voice.

AAJ: He sure does, and it's one you want prominently in the mix.

JH: Yeah, so my job is to be solid and supportive. But also, to listen to what is going on and be able to embellish when and where it makes sense. Possibly adding tension or a certain kind of harmony. In either case I am locked in with Dave and am going to be rhythmically supportive of either guitarist. Their music is different, as you correctly pointed out, you can't lump them together as fusion players. Mike has such an interesting mix of being a jazz player but with a rock mentality. Oz has more of the blues and rock mentality. So, it is a matter of supporting and complementing their improvisational directions on any given evening.

AAJ: You mentioned having worked quite a bit with Lorber. He is known as a preeminent production guru. I imagine he has had an impact on your production skills. Although it isn't unusual to catch you guys playing around town at a club like the Baked Potato and, as you mentioned, have now done seven records together, it seems you two have really hit your stride as a production duo.

JH: Yeah, I have known Jeff for a long time. We started working together in the early eighties. Moving forward to about 2010, I got a call from Eric Marienthal. He was putting a band together to go to Russia. He wanted me to play bass and Will Kennedy on drums. He already had Chuck Loeb on guitar and Jeff on keys. So, this collaborative group did a couple of gigs in Russia and a couple in the Ukraine. During that time Jeff and I talked and exchanged a lot of ideas and thoughts on music. When we got back home, I had a meeting to produce a record by this saxophonist from Sweden. I was ready to pass on it because I felt like the material wasn't that strong. Toward the end of the meeting he mentioned that he was a big fan of Jeff Lorber. So, all that conversation that Jeff and I had all came flooding back into my head. So, I got a hold of Jeff and asked if he had any material he could share. Turns out he had a lot of great stuff. I ended up with five or six songs that weren't all complete but had some really strong ideas. I met with the saxophonist again and he flipped out when he heard them. He loved them and was really happy that they were all written by Jeff. He almost had a cow right there in the coffee shop! (laughing).

AAJ: (laughing) Yeah well, I could see that. You had a guy that just needed material and then just boom there it was.

JH: Yeah so, I asked Jeff if he wanted to co-produce the record with me. He thought that was a great idea. That way he could finish and embellish a few songs and also played on the record. So that is where it started as far as us producing together. Jeff and I co-wrote a couple of other tunes for that record as well and later co-produced another record for him. The main thing was that Jeff and I had a lot of fun working together. It was the start of something.

AAJ: I should say. You have done a lot together now. It really does come down to having fun working together doesn't it?

JH: Absolutely. You have to enjoy what you are doing, and I think that positive energy translates over into the music. At about that same time, Jeff mentioned wanting to resurrect Jeff Lorber Fusion. He had talked to drummer Bobby Colomby, then I jumped on board, and there you go.

AAJ: Another band that you are involved with, that I am a huge fan of, is Jing Chi with Colaiuta and Ford. The early records, Jing Chi (Tone Center, 2001), Live (Tone Center, 2003), and 3D (Tone Center, 2004). I have to say, Jimmy, are just incredible works of three-piece high-end fusion.

JH: Thanks for saying and recognizing that.

AAJ: What led to the decision to add horns to the more recent Supremo(Tone Center, 2017)?

JH: That one was predominantly produced by Robben. He had some pretty strong ideas about what he wanted to do. At the time I had four other things going on, so I just kind of went with what Robben had in mind. It was a bit of left turn for us and I was a bit complexed by it. But we did the best we could do to help with it. It was really more Robben's thing. Like I said, he had some very strong ideas about what he wanted to do.

AAJ: Yeah, I know Ford has used horns on many other records, so I figured that was his influence. There have been mixed reviews on the record.

JH: Yeah, for sure. I wrote one song, but otherwise it was all Robben's tunes. It was less collaborative than I would have liked. The first record was very collaborative. Vinnie wrote some songs and there was a lot of good energy going on. Then we did the live record. I spent a lot of time working on that. I brought in Otmaro Ruiz on keys. On the first record we had Brian Auger on a couple of tunes. I love the third record, 3D. Actually, the first and the third. There was a lot of great energy and a really good vibe going on at the time. I had been listening to Brian Eno quite a bit and was trying to bring in that surrealistic kind of soundscapes to the record. Mostly as segues between the songs. It may not have been noticed too much, but I was working to bring in a more atmospheric feel.

AAJ: Yeah, especially in the transitional phases. Not just on the segues, but also in mood progressions amidst the songs.

JH: Exactly. Yes, exactly Jim. Maybe it didn't go completely unnoticed(laughing).

AAJ: It wouldn't have mattered if you hadn't had great musicians really firing on some great tunes. But I think the atmospheric infusion is what gave Jing Chi its own unique quality.

JH: It had been over ten years since we had done a Jing Chi record. So, a lot had changed, and we didn't have the same vibe. Mostly, I suppose, because Vinnie was very busy touring with Herbie Hancock and as I said, I was working on four other projects. It just wasn't a collaborative project like the previous ones had been. The whole chemistry of Jing Chi changed on that fourth record. I still like it, for different reasons. I did the artwork for it. It had kind of a New Orleans vibe to it, which the others did not.

AAJ: Because of the horns, yeah.

JH: Yeah, so I did kind of a voodoo sort of thing for the cover art.

AAJ: Well maybe down the road another more collaborative Jing Chi effort could be worked on.

JH: Well, as such a fan and supporter of Jing Chi, Jim, I am going to let you in on something. I have an ace up my sleeve on that. We went to Japan with Larry Goldings and I recorded the whole thing. I have a live Jing Chi record in the can. I need to get permission from Vinnie, Robben, and Larry before I could do anything with it.

AAJ: Oh my, you just gave me goosebumps(laughing).

JH: (laughing) I knew I just had to tell you. That you would be excited about that.

AAJ: You just got to keep me in the loop and let me know if that happens. Goldings is terrific. Saw him play with the Steve Gadd Band. Thanks for sharing that. Man, I hope those guys sign off on that.

JH: I hope so too. There is some really great stuff on there. And yeah, trust me, you'll know about it!

AAJ: You are working on four projects currently and I believe have a couple of other records that are due to come out soon.

JH: Yes, one I'm very proud of is for research and awareness of Parkinson's disease. The artist is a physical trainer and therapist named Karl Sterling. He has been dealing with Parkinson's for a while. He has written a book called Parkinson's Regeneration Training. It's an integrative and fitness-based approach to improving movement and cognition in order to improve quality of life.

AAJ: That's tremendous. Such an important cause. How does the music factor in?

JH: The record is to be called Dream and will be coming out at the end of February. Sterling was a drummer before he was a physical therapist. He is now connected with Syracuse University as a trainer for the sports and wellness program. His book will come out almost simultaneously with the record. Many great artists are on the record including Peter Erskine, Gary Novak, Scott Kinsey, Bob Reynolds, Brandon Fields, and some great singers as well. Looking forward to that one coming out. Then there is an Italian film composer and pianist/arranger that lives in Sicily named Silvio Amato. Drummer Jimmy Branly turned me on to this project. The record will be called Variations of Relevance. Branly plays along with this great string bassist named Trey Henry. Randy Brecker is on the record, as is Gregoire Maret, the great harmonica player, and many other great artists.

AAJ: That all sounds like great stuff. I'm thinking that you must have been a juggler in another life, the way you are able to keep all these projects in the air.

JH: (laughing) Well, I'm pretty good at multi-tasking and it doesn't really bother me to work on multiple projects at once. I can stay very focused on each one. I'm in pre-production on a couple more and have a couple of others I am about ready to move on.

AAJ: Early on you worked with a lot of rock artists including Tommy Bolin, Dave Mason, Kiss, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, and Rod Stewart? Did you think at the time that you would continue to be a rock bassist?

JH: Sure. Yeah. It made sense. I was already entrenched in it.

AAJ: The Yellowjackets pulled you in another direction. So that just happened to be the natural course. You weren't seeking out a fusion opportunity or something else other than rock?

JH: It was strictly the Yellowjackets. That just ended up lasting a long time.

AAJ: I should say.

JH: I was still doing some rock recordings when I was with the Yellowjackets. I did a record with Ron Wood. I did a record with one of the guitar players and singers from Megadeath.

AAJ: Well, that's only a tad out of the jazz realm.

JH: (laughing) Yeah, only a little bit. I did some other stuff (still laughing), mostly in the studio. I did some pop as well. I played on a song that did well for Selena called "Dreaming of You." I toured for nine months with Chaka Khan. I did two records with Bruce Hornsby and then toured with him for about a year. I keep an open mind. If the music is good and I like it, then I am happy to jump in and work on it.

AAJ: Its very cool that you got to enjoy all these different styles, but moreover it has to be a big factor in your success as a producer. Having first-hand knowledge of all these genres gives you such a wide range and wealth of knowledge. You just have to tell me about Blackjack with Michael Bolton on vocals. I never thought of him as singing rock n roll. The first record was the self-titled Blackjack ( Polydor, 1979)

JH: He was unknown at the time. He wrote a bunch of songs with a guy named Bruce Kulick, who later became the guitarist in Kiss. Bruce had been touring with Meatloaf. Well, I will try to keep this not too long, but you have to know the back story on this. It's kind of amazing. Okay prior to this I was playing in a band with April Lawton. She was an excellent guitarist. The band also had Mike Pinera from Blues Image and get this, Mitch Mitchell on drums.

AAJ: OMG! I wasn't expecting Hendrix's iconic drummer to pop up in this story.

JH: Yeah, the band was really good, but only lasted about four months. I don't really know why. Anyways, the lawyer involved was a guy named Steve Weiss. He had been in that capacity for Led Zeppelin. We hit it off and stayed in touch. A few years later Weiss calls me and tells me about these unknowns named Kulick and Bolton having some songs. They didn't have a band, but somehow they had an upcoming opportunity to audition for Polygram. He had already secured Sandy Gennaro, who had been Pat Travers drummer. So, I jumped in and gave it a shot. We had two days to rehearse and then play for Polygram. I flew to New York, met the guys, learned four songs, and went to the audition. Polygram flipped. They signed us immediately. So suddenly I am in this band called Blackjack (laughing). It all came together crazy fast. So now we are quickly off to the studios in Miami to do a record that was produced by Tom Dowd. Then, just like that, we had a month-long tour opening for Peter Frampton. We were playing big arenas, football stadiums, and coliseums.

AAJ: Well Frampton was huge back then with Frampton Comes Alive (A&M, 1976). Amazing that a new unknown band even got that gig as the opening act.

JH: Yeah, and on top of that I got an audition and ended up playing on tour with Dave Mason and Friends. A lot going on at the same time. I had to turn down a tour with Gino Vannelli on his Brother to Brother tour with his brother Joe. That really bummed me out because those guys were really good friends of mine and I felt like I was letting them down. Next thing I know they want another Blackjack record. This time we were in Levon Helm's studio at Woodstock. The producer was Eddie Offord, best known for producing many Yes records, including Fragile (Atlantic, 1971). We finished the record,Worlds Apart(Polydor, 1980) in just over two weeks and then I immediately went back out and finished the Dave Mason tour. The Dave Mason gig was very cool. First of all, Mark Stein was in the band. He was one of the founders and singer and organist for Vanilla Fudge. We had different guest artists showing up almost every night. You never knew who you were going to be playing with. Spencer Davis one night and then Crosby, Stills, & Nash the next. Steve Winwood, Joe Cocker, a rock and roll revue one night after another. And you have to understand that all of this happened in a less than three-year period of time. Then the Yellowjackets happened. I got a call from Gary Borman, who ended up being the Yellowjackets manager for about twenty years, and that's how that came to be.

AAJ: Man, I appreciate all that back story. It really puts a lot of the puzzle pieces together. In an odd way, The Yellowjackets then ended up creating some calm and stability in your life. Not at first, I'm sure, because you didn't know how or where that experience was going to go. But ultimately you were able to breathe. No more need for gasping, instead grasping only the opportunities that you wanted and seemed appropriate.

JH: It was a welcome change to join and co-found the Yellowjackets. It was a needed change all those years later, as well, when I moved on from the Jackets.

AAJ: You are involved with the Small Wonders Foundation. I thought that you might like to close out today by taking a moment to enlighten us about that organization and the work that they do.

JH: Oh wow, yeah, thanks for bringing that up. A doctor that I know travels all over the world to perform surgeries for children with facial deformities. He does a number of things, mostly involving plastic surgery. He rebuilds ears, not only aesthetically, but in some cases that actually restores the hearing function. He works to repair all kinds of facial deformities, again all over the world. He basically does all of it for free. They are usually very expensive procedures and families around the globe that don't have the money to pay for it. The charity is to raise money for him to fly to these out of the way places and help these children and families in need.

AAJ: It is so wonderful to learn about that and know that there are people out there that are true humanitarians.

JH: He changes lives. These procedures are truly life changing for the children and their families. They are able to live normal lives. It's truly amazing what he does.

AAJ: I looked at the website prior to our conversation. The before and after photos are just amazing. In some cases, large marks on their face that are now gone, and other surgical alterations that are just astounding. It's a wonderful cause and your heart is clearly in the right place being involved in a project as important and genuine as this.

JH: I have great respect for the Small Wonders Foundation. The doctor's name is John Reinisch. He is a spectacular amazing person. That's really all you can say about him.

AAJ: Yeah, certainly a man with a big heart that cares more about helping people than about making money.

JH: In my mind, he is an angel. He and his wife put together these fundraisers so that he can continue to do the work. The last couple of years I have helped him with music. I have performed or if unavailable I have been able to put together a band of wonderful musicians to try and raise money for the cause. I am involved in other charities and causes as well. I would be happy if I could do much more of that -to focus on putting bands together to raise money for as many great and worthy causes as possible. I'm not going to go into it more at this time. I don't want to sound like I am trying to toot my own horn, but I do spend a fair amount of time helping different charities. I will say that we are all very thankful that there are people in the world like Dr. Reinisch and Mr. Sterling, who we talked about earlier, who are so selfless, care so much about humanity, and do the work that they do.

AAJ: Well I will toot your horn or bang your drum, or however many more musical clichés I can come up with for you, Jimmy. We talked at length about the huge volume of work that you have and continue to do in the musical industry, and there are still many more questions that I didn't even get into yet. It says much about you and your character that even with all that going on you make and take the time to give back. Gosh, you just gave me three and half hours to have this conversation. Time flies when you are having fun, so I hope that means you enjoyed it anywhere near as much as I did. It's an understatement to say that it has been a true pleasure bridging great stories, laughter, and sincerity with you today, Jimmy.

JH: Thanks Jim. I appreciate that. You got my mind rattling around on some things I hadn't thought about for a while. I'm glad we had the time to connect this afternoon. So anytime, man. Get those other questions together and we will talk again soon.

AAJ: That should be easy enough. We haven't talked about Renegade Creation, Elemental, your solo records like Red Heat and Arc. We need to talk about the Jaco big band project that you were involved with. Besides if we talk again in a couple of weeks you will probably will have produced another forty-seven records between now and then (laughing). But I will try to keep it under three hours.

JH: (laughing )No worries. I enjoy good conversation.

Post a comment



SoCal Jazz Jimmy Haslip Jim Worsley United States California Los Angeles The Yellowjackets Robben Ford Marc Russo Russ Ferrante bob mintzer Will Kennedy Peter Erskine Alex Acuna Luis Conte Paulino de Costa Dave Samuels Bobby McFerrin Brenda Russell Al Jarreau Dewa Budjana Jimmy Johnson Vinnie Colaiuta dwiki dharmawan Jeff Lorber Chad Wackerman Allan Holdsworth Nicolas Meier jeff beck Asaf Sirkis Saat Syah Karma Auger Brian Auger Count Basie Tito Puente Miles Davis John Coltrane Thelonious Monk Dave Brubeck Eric Dolphy Eric Burdon and The Animals The Beatles The Rolling Stones Led Zeppelin Jimi Hendrix Jethro Tull Vince Mendoza Cliff Hagan Mike Stern Allman Brothers Cream Frank Zappa Yes The Byrds Blood Sweat & Tears Chicago Bob Dylan Joni Mitchell Freddie Hubbard Pat Martino Benny Carter Larry Coryell and the Eleventh House Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters Chick Corea Return to Forever Jaco Pastorius Weather Report Larry Graham Graham Central Station Sly Stone Marcus Miller Louis Johnson Anthony Jackson James Jamerson albert king Oz Noy Michael Landau Virgil Donati Gary Husband Dave Weckl Leni Stern Eric Marienthal Chuck Loeb Bobby Colomby Jing Chi Otmaro Ruiz Brian Eno Larry Goldings Steve Gadd Gary Novak Scott Kinsey Bob Reynolds Brandon Fields Jimmy Branly Trey Henry randy brecker Gregoire Maret Tommy Bolin dave mason Kiss CSN Rod Stewart Ron Wood Chaka Khan Bruce Hornsby Michael Bolton Bruce Kulick Meatloaf April Lawton Mike Pinera Blues Image Mitch Mitchell Sandy Gennaro Pat Travers Peter Frampton Gino Vannelli Mark Stein Vanilla Fudge Spencer Davis David Crosby Graham Nash Steve Winwood joe cocker
View events near Los Angeles
Jazz Near Los Angeles
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop Amazon



Read Tony Bennett: A Hero's Journey in Authenticity
Beauty, Love and Justice: Living A Coltranian Life
Tony Bennett: A Hero's Journey in Authenticity
Read Steve Reich: Humans Love to See Other Humans Play Music
Read Top Jazz-Rock Fusion Recordings
Read Joe Lovano: Finding New Adventures
Read Instrumental Duos
Building a Jazz Library
Instrumental Duos
Read Dean Brown: Global Fusion on Acid

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.