>> write // chris tarry: sound, talent and perseverance pg 2
Chris Trinidad: Who were some of the people you have studied with? And what have these people taught you about the bass, music and life?
Chris Tarry: I spent time at Berklee studying with some amazing players. Some of the best stuff I learned was from a great piano teacher named Charlie Banacos. He taught Mike Stern, Jeff Berlin, and a bunch of other famous guys.
Gary Willis and I have become pretty close friends and he has taught me a lot in regards to bass, music, and what to take on the road! I recently had a chance to spend some time with John Patitucci and that was a great experience as well. Some of the most important stuff I learned, I learned while just hanging out with a particular player who I admired. Just talking and picking their brain was always a huge learning experience. I try to do this with students, giving them the chance to just hang out at a gig or whenever possible go shoot a little pool or something.
Chris Trinidad: Who are some of the musicians that you find interesting and listen to these days?
Chris Tarry: I don't listen to many bass players these days so that's an easier question for me! I just bought the new Kurt Rosenwinkel (a great NY based guitarist) and I really dig it! Compositionally, I have been checking out Django Bates, always a lot of Wayne Shorter, some great classic samba stuff, Metallica, the Beatles, and Bill Frisell.
Chris Trinidad: You are also considered to be a first call bassist on sessions here in Vancouver, how did you get into this scene?
Chris Tarry: Well, I guess when I first arrived here in Vancouver, I was getting pretty frustrated not playing. I decided that if I was going to remain sane that I should put together my own band and start at least playing some of my tunes. Once I got out there and started playing with my own thing, various people heard it and liked it. The calls started coming in after that. I tell a lot of students that, put together your own project and it will give you a profile. If people like what they hear, you will get calls for many other things.
Chris Trinidad: What kind of things have you been called upon to do?
Chris Tarry: When I get called to a commercial session it usually involves listening to a MIDI demo of something the producer has worked up but wants the feel of real bass. He or she plays it and wants something similar but with your own interpretation thrown in. There are times when you get a chart of exactly what they want you to play. That's also a nice challenge when you are forced to read it down in the first one or two takes.
Chris Trinidad: What kind of things are expected of getting called to such a session? What kind of gear do you bring?
Chris Tarry: Usually I try and bring a selection of basses. Almost all the time they want to go direct. Because of time constraints there isn't always the luxury of experimenting with different sounds and micing up amps. Generally, you need to have your sound together, be able to read, have good time, and be an easy person to get along with.
Chris Trinidad: You've got a couple of 'bread and butter basses', a 5 string Fodera and a custom built 5 string fretless Hozono that you take to most gigs. You're also endorsing Kinal basses. What is it that you look for in an electric bass?
Chris Tarry: The thing what I look for most is for it to give something back acoustically. The way the strings interact with with the body wood when it's not plugged in can tell you a lot. It's kind of like the difference between new and old strings. If it's acoustically dead then there isn't a pickup in the world that can save it.
Chris Trinidad: How about in a fretless?
Chris Tarry: The same thing except ten times more emphasis on the acoustic qualities.
Chris Trinidad: What kind of outboard gear, amplifiers and cabinets are you into?
Chris Tarry: I have been using Eden amplifiers and speakers for a few years now and really enjoy the flat response all of their equipment gives. I have been using this really cool Line 6 delay pedal lately that I really like. I also use an Alesis Nano Verb for solos and a little ambiance.
Chris Trinidad: In our close knit Vancouver creative music scene, you work with some very interesting people. How has this work as a sideman benefitted your own music?
Chris Tarry: It has influenced my music in such profound ways. So much so that I am doing a new solo album in March called "Of Battles Unknown Mysteries" that is a representation of all the great music I have had the opportunity to play over the past few years. I haven't done a solo album for about five years. This one is going to have some really out improv stuff, some groove stuff, a little big band, some samba stuff, and some solo bass things as well. The music I'm writing is influenced heavily by all the great original compositions I have played over the past ten years.
Chris Trinidad: That's an interesting title! How'd you come up with that?
Chris Tarry: Thanks, I really like the title. The title in some ways describes, for me, the musical process of doing an album or composing a tune. Each time I play one of my compositions with various different musicians it gets interpreted a different way. The feeling of wanting it to sound a certain way, the inner "Battle", is something I have tried to put aside in all my compositions. Jazz is about creating and letting everyone have their say. The "mysteries" in that exploration are where the music lies. Every composition I write turns out differently than I originally heard or conceived it. Aside from feel, form, and basic tune structure I try and give as much leway to all the musicians playing on any given tune.
Chris Trinidad: Who can we expect to see on the album? Rumour also has it that you'll be recording with musicians from both the Vancouver and Toronto scenes!
Chris Tarry: Yes, I am recording with a bunch of people from across this vast nation! Toronto based trumpet player Kevin Turcotte, will be on the album, as well as Toronto musicians Michael Occhipinti, drummer Barry Romberg, and Metalwood sax man Mike Murley. The Vancouver crew will feature guitarist Daryl Jahnke, Metalwood trumpeter Brad Turner, drummer Dylan Van der Schyff, guitarist Ron Samworth, and the list goes on and on! Whew, organizational nightmare!
Chris Trinidad: How do you approach composition? Is it perhaps a case of putting the bass away and sitting at a keyboard plunking ivories until something comes out?
Chris Tarry: It can be. I find I write tunes in many different ways. Tonight I am actually recording some of the solo bass stuff that will appear on the solo album. That really takes me into composition from the bass perspective. Sometimes, I write a melody and put the changes in afterward. Sometimes I get the chords first. Sometimes, it's just a concept and I have to sort it out other ways.
Chris Trinidad: Little do people know, but you are also accomplished in other areas. It appears that these accomplishments have come about to fill a need, that necessity is often the mother of invention. Namely, you are also a web and graphic designer, an inspirational teacher, an astute business person, and a mountain biker. Now, I haven't riden a bike since I was a teenager but maybe you can tell me about how you became accomplished in these other areas.
Chris Tarry: You are so right! Out of complete necessity! As a jazz musician and professional bass player it can be sometimes hard to find the funds to accomplish all the music and ideas one might envision. To do all that I wanted to do I had to find a way to do it cheaper. So, I taught myself web design, photoshop, layout, pre press for CD manufacturing, how to lead a band, how to be a sideman, how to book a tour, and so on. In the early years I did it all myself in order to play my own music and promote my career. These days demands on my time as a sideman, ActiveBass, and a busy Metalwood touring schedule makes it really hard to do it all. I am farming a lot of it out because I can afford to but having those skills has been a large part of getting me where I am today. Of course you still need to practice and get yourself to a high level bass wise or else all the promo and business training in the world will not help!
Chris Trinidad: You're also a faculty member at what is considered to be one of the top jazz schools west of Ontario, Canada. Has teaching influenced your outlook on the electric bass? If so, how?
Chris Tarry: Teaching seems like something I have always done and it has had a huge influence on my playing. I have to get inside what I am doing in order to become a better teacher and this makes me analyze myself and focus on areas in my playing that need improvement. Teaching at Cap and posting lessons on ActiveBass has given me a little bit of press and it's great to have students come out and support you at your gigs and to truly be into the music you're trying to create. I finally decided to put it all down in a book that is, as I am always saying, "almost finished". Actually I am in the third or fourth draft at the moment so I am hoping it will finish it self soon!
Chris Trinidad: Some people around here at ActiveBass don't realize it, but you're actually one of the head honchos! ActiveBass is such a great concept with its ability to facilitate the exchange of knowledge about the electric bass. Where do you hope to see ActiveBass in the next while?
Chris Tarry: Thanks, my cohort and friend Chris Sung and I are very proud of the success of ActiveBass. It is such a great community of players! We are going to keep adding new features and watching it grow. The new ActiveMusician.com is up now and there are plans to expand on all the "Active" websites including the addition of ActiveDrums which is already in the development stages.
Chris Trinidad: And finally, the same question I asked your buddy, Ian Froman. What are your top 10 desert island discs?
Chris Tarry: Wow, hmmm, okay, here goes: