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8 bars with Mike Boone
Our guest is bassist, composer, bandleader and educator Mike Boone.
8 bars with, is a series on Educated Guesses where we offer up 8 questions to a special guest for them to ponder and freestyle on. The questions aren't necessarily questions as much as they are prompts or linguistic ink blots meant to stimulate thought. The responses can be short and pithy, long and loquacious or somewhere in between.
Philadelphia area-based musician Mike Boone has worked as a sideman with entertainer Ben Vereen, drummer Buddy Rich, pianists Orrin Evans and Uri Caine, organist Shirley Scott, drummer Mickey Roker, trumpeter John Swana and multi-instrumentalist Joey DeFrancesco. Born in New York City in 1956, Boone grew up listening to African-American and Afro-Hispanic music in Spanish Harlem. His latest recording, Enjoying the View is a 17-track recording featuring Latin-tinged selections by Afro-Cuban pianist Frank Emilio Flynn, Stevie Wonder, Benny Golson, George Benson and McCoy Tyner, reflecting the sounds and syncopations he grew up listening to. His previous recordings include: Better Late Than Never, Old Head, Yeah, I Said It!!!, Heart and Soul, Beneath the Surface, Asynchronization Party and ‘Smoother’ Jazz. A graduate of New York City’s High School of Music and Art and The Eastman School of Music, Boone is currently an Adjunct Professor of Jazz (Bass) at Temple University.
1. Creating Enjoying The View
To be honest, it kind of created itself as we got further into the project. It became clear that I was really telling my story: where I grew up, and what I was influenced by.
2. Reimagining "George Benson's "Give Me The Night" (from Enjoying The View).
There's a percussion break in the original recording where it sounded Afro-Cuban. I thought to myself, this is really a folkloric African chant. Listen to the melody, and the way the '3' side of the rumba clave is accented.
3. Living in Spanish Harlem
I loved it! I had a thing for Puerto Rican girls. I never got one, though. My first 'best friend' was Sergio Oquenio. We got over to each other's apartments and the time.
4. Classical piano lessons
I owe my stepfather, Mr. Ronald A. Gaiter for that. He had an extensive classical record collection. When he and my mom were “dating,” we'd be at his apartment. I'd be at his stereo listening to this beautiful music. Then, I'd go to his piano and try to play what I heard.
5. Switching to bass in high school
I got into Music and Art HS on piano. If you sang, or played piano, you had to take up another instrument. That was their policy. I was late signing up. The choices were only cello and bass. When I saw that all the girls had picked the cello, and all the boys had picked the bass, the answer was obvious…I hated the bass at first. It gave me blisters on my left hand.
6. Playing acoustic and electric bass at Eastman School of Music.
I taught myself how to play jazz on both instruments. I was plucking the strings like a classical player, so I had to figure that out on my own. My style is weird, I've been told.
7. Acoustic vs. electric bass
I like both. I think I swing pretty hard on electric bass. I'm not a fan of funk, or R&B on acoustic bass, though jazz guys do. It doesn’t lock in with the bass drum like the electric does.
8. Bass influences
Ron Carter, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Garrison, Scott LaFaro, Arthur Harper, Cachao, Jaco, Paul Jackson, Alphonso Johnson, Marcus Miller, Victor Bailey and Eddie Khan.
Playing in Philadelphia
I thought coming to Philly was a punch for something I did in a previous life. But, it ended up being the biggest blessing of my musical career. Cause I learned the truth about this artform, and it's connection to my people.