Author Topic: Our under appreciated role  (Read 7580 times)

Offline John the Barbarian

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Our under appreciated role
« on: March 02, 2012, 11:34:44 AM »
I have two favorite bass players (national level, I've also got some local heroes also) that I really admire both the way they play(ed) and the attitude they brought to their onstage presence.

One was Allen Woody, bassist for Gov't Mule, Allman Brothers Band, etc.  Allen was such I tour de force when he played.  He wasn't necessarily fancy, but he was just so solid that I think it can be argued that he made Gov't Mule the success that it was.  Indeed, after he passed, once the tribute to his material was done, Gov't Mule was never again to reach the heights it had been at with Allen.  After trying two different players, it became pretty well marginalized as lead guitarist and vocalist Warren Hanes moved on to other projects.  As perhaps the best tribute to the Woody's contribution to the band's success, the band released a triple CD live performance set from before Woody's death as one of it's final attempts to re-generate interest in the band.

The second player unfortunately hasn't seen the kind of visibility that Allen Woody received, nor the recognition from the band he was in of what he contributed to the band's success.  That player is Eric Czar, Joe Bonamassa's former bassist.

His work on 4 of Joe's CDs from 2000 to 2005 and 2 videos was simply outstanding. Watching the Bonamassa video from Rockpalast it is clear that this band, with Kenny Kramme on drums, was clearly a band of musical equals.  Czar is out front and a dominate stage presence (perhaps too dominate for the delicate ego of a guitar god?).  Here's and example of that band in action.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoJyg9HcaZw

In 2006 I was delighted when Bonamassa came to town and I went to see him only to find to my great disappointment that both Czar and Kramme had been unceremoniously dumped by Bonamassa, Czar replaced by former Johnny Winter sideman, Mark Epstein and Kramme by Kenny Wayne Shepard drummer, Bogie Bowles.

While Epstein is certainly a good player, he is nowhere near Czar's level of competence, nor did he add anything visually to the show.  Where Czar was an equal force on the stage, Epstein stood there and stared at Bonamassa as if he were afraid the tour bus would leave town without him (it soon did as he was replaced by Carmine Rojas, who had played on Bonamassa's latest album).

I know all of this because I followed Czar's awesome body of work with Bonamassa.  But go to Bonamassa's wikipedia page and neither Kramme, nor Czar exist.  After 5 years of helping Bonamassa become a national musical figure they are nowhere to be found.  The ill-fated Mark Epstein is mentioned, as is Bowles and Rojas, but Czar and Kramme have been purged from Bonamassa's history as if they never existed.

Since then Bonamassa has certainly achieved commercial success, but I would argue that his body of work since Czar's departure is mundane at best.  One project with Glen Hughes, Black Country Communion, is little more than an 80's tribute band and his work in the field of blues is run-of the-mill and uninspired.

Czar on the other hand has been busy creating truly fascinating projects that, while yet to achieve commercial success, place him IMHO in the top tier of current bassists.  Here are a couple of examples.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBrmZ-RZYN4

I've seen another version of Caffeine with Czar playing both the 4 string bass and his signature 7 string bass. And here's one of him doing his 6 string fretless.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyVu6N9y4W8&feature=youtu.be

And finally on both 4 string and 7 string, a tribute to Frank Zappa.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150556385391818

Eric is on facebook for those of you on there and is quite accessible.  He is one of us and deserves our attention.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2012, 10:02:06 PM by John the Barbarian »
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Offline TobiasMan

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Our under appreciated role
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2012, 03:39:22 PM »
Great stuff JD!

Just love Eric's 6 string fretless sounds!!! [8D]
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Offline John the Barbarian

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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2012, 10:01:37 PM »
Yeah, he's not getting the recognition he deserves.  That's for sure.  I bought the first CD Bonamassa did after Eric left and it wasn't worth a hoot.  There's no question in my mind that without Eric and Kenny, Bonamassa wouldn't be where he is today and yet they can't even be mentioned on Joe's wikipedia page?  How juvenile and petty is that?
« Last Edit: March 02, 2012, 10:02:38 PM by John the Barbarian »
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Offline Bassmann1968

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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2012, 10:41:53 PM »
Wow,
thanks John for sharing.
As Tobias says, great voicing on that 6 string. Especially how he adds the harmonics.
Just great!
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Offline John the Barbarian

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« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2012, 12:39:50 PM »
Here's another ditty on 5 string and guitar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIlhH9l9CFU&feature=autoshare

He just bangs these out one after another.  Love the creativity.  Maybe he should give up and go play Smoke on the Water.
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Offline John the Barbarian

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« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2012, 01:31:10 PM »
This corner of the forum is truly lonely.  Here's another example of what you can do with nothing but a couple of basses.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3epxL8ImBvk&feature=related
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Offline Fatback

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« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2012, 03:28:03 PM »
I hear ya, John. Been a huge fan of Eric's for a few years now. I never had the pleasure of seeing him with Bonamassa. Thanks for posting these clips and giving him his props.
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Offline John the Barbarian

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« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2012, 05:10:08 PM »
Nor did I , only on video.  When I went to see Bonamassa I went to see Eric, not Joe.  Personally, I think Eric ranks higher as a bassist than Joe does as a guitarist.  That's not to deny Joe his due as a musician, I just don't see the creativity in him that do in Eric that sets him apart from many others on that instrument.  Of course, I'm not as knowledgeable regarding guitar as I am bass, but Joe was doing the most creative stuff that I've seen in his repertoire back when he was playing with his first group Bloodline and who knows if those ideas were his, or his band mates.  That band included Berry Oakley Jr,, Robby Krieger's son Waylon and Miles Davis son Erin, so lots of genetic creativity available there.  It's an excellent album and if you listen closely to the arrangements you'll hear them over and over again in Joe's later work.
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Offline vince a

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Re: Our under appreciated role
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2012, 08:49:05 PM »
"WOW." Thanks for turning me on to Eric Czar . . . he is an amazing bassist . . .
WARNING:This post may contain items including, but not limited to, sarcasm, irony, and hyperbole intended to bring humor to this discussion. Those of you who are overly sensitive or who have no sense of humor are better off ignoring this post.
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Offline John the Barbarian

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Re: Our under appreciated role
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2012, 10:11:39 AM »
Yes, he is.  I really don't think Bonamassa has been as good, as a band, since he got rid of Czar and Kramme.  It was a good fit all the way around.
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