WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
Home · Articles · Columns · Editorial · Requiem for a Bass Player

Requiem for a Bass Player

By Katie Laur · January 3rd, 2007 · Editorial
0 Comments
     
Tags:

Bob Bodley died of cancer on Christmas Day, and the lights at the Blue Wisp will be a little dimmer this weekend. He was a superb musican who passed in his prime, and he was a great gift to us.

Bob demonstrated how to live richly and to honor our own talents as artists and musicians. As his bandmate Phil DeGreg said of him, "He served the music," and that's perhaps the greatest thing you can say about a musician.

I did the following interview with Bob several years ago at the Blue Wisp, when it was still on Garfield Place. He played there for more than 15 years. (Editor's note: A version of this interview ran as Katie's column "Yes, Bob, We Dig" in the issue of Aug. 30, 2001.)

Cal Collins was playing at the Blue Wisp this past weekend. The audience was young and elegant: twentysomethings dressed in black cocktail outfits, mini-skirts and Armani tuxes. Cal was playing well and occasionally stretching his leg and moving it in pure pleasure, like a dog will do when you scratch just the right spot.

When Bob Bodley played a solo, I was momentarily transfixed. It quieted my mind, and I was able to listen to the foundation of notes he laid down, followed by deep, silent spaces. Years ago, when I first sang on that stage with this trio, I could have sworn I felt electricity coming from Bob to the piano player and the drummer. "The bass is the earth," he said when I asked him about it.

Bob was the first player most musicians called to do a job. He'd started out as a youngster playing with Ed Moss, then moved to New York, where he played with some of the seminal figures. He moved back home in 1990, and the transition was "cool," he said. "Nothing much had changed."

Knowing Bob, he returned on a Thursday and had a gig by Friday, playing with excellent piano players always: Ed Moss, Steve Schmidt and Jim Connerly. When the Blue Wisp job came open, he took it.

Bob was tall and slender, his face full of lines and planes like an Indian's. He had high cheekbones and a full head of light brown hair, cut like the Dutch boy's on the paint can. He was a serene kind of man who never lost his composure. He wasn't just cool -- he was Clint Eastwood material. "You dig?" he always asked, and we did.

The pianist Steve Schmidt said of him, "Bob Bodley is a great bass player. He understands music from the bottom to the top. He understands the right bass note to play against the soloist, and he understands the middle voices as well as the melody. Lots of players forget the melody, but not Bob. He always knows exactly where he is."

"I was a kid in the 1950s," Bob told me when we sat down to talk in the band room for a few quiet moments. "These guys used to come around and give you an accordion if you paid for and finished 20 lessons. You paid for the lessons, and if you learned to play the instrument you got to keep it. It looked easy to me."

It was like when he learned the E-flat lap tuba, a Dixieland horn, at Moeller High School. It was there, in fact, in the band room, that he picked up a discarded Kay upright bass with only two strings, had it restrung, adjusted the bridge, cleaned it up a little and started playing gigs.

"I played my first gig when I was 15, and I just never stopped," he said. "You dig?" I nodded.

"I was playing bass, doing weddings, club dates, but I was still just two-fingering it, really.

Then I met Dee Garrett when Dee Felice was playing at the Buccaneer. He turned me on to Jazz, to the repertoire, the changes, and concurrently I took some bass lessons. Eventually I met Ed Moss and started to hang there at the Golden Triangle. That was a six-night-a-week gig, too."

Bob eventually moved to New York. He found work and sublet a loft, where every important musician stopped by for a "hang" and ended up staying to jam. He worked there for 14 years.

"The best thing about New York," Bob said, "was that someone like Miles Davis was your neighbor."

He worked with Woody Herman's band and toured and recorded with Art Farmer and Lionel Hampton and with the pianists Dave Friedman, Horace Silver and Mose Alison. Some time in the '80s, he said, the scene in New York started drying up, and for a while the city felt dangerous to him. When his wife, Cynthia, inherited her father's house in Indiana in 1990, they moved back and Bob simply took up where he left off.

Where did the confidence in his gift come from? How did he know he could learn to play that accordion when he was a kid?

"Just did," Bob said, teasingly. "Those little black buttons on the side? They represent the circle of fifths and extensions to the circle of fifths. It's cool. I liked playing the accordion.

"Anyway, I had to do it. That was the deal. You gotta pay for the hang. You dig?"



CONTACT KATIE LAUR: letters(at)

Bob Bodley died of cancer on Christmas Day, and the lights at the Blue Wisp will be a little dimmer this weekend. He was a superb musican who passed in his prime, and he was a great gift to us.

Bob demonstrated how to live richly and to honor our own talents as artists and musicians. As his bandmate Phil DeGreg said of him, "He served the music," and that's perhaps the greatest thing you can say about a musician.

I did the following interview with Bob several years ago at the Blue Wisp, when it was still on Garfield Place. He played there for more than 15 years. (Editor's note: A version of this interview ran as Katie's column "Yes, Bob, We Dig" in the issue of Aug. 30, 2001.)

Cal Collins was playing at the Blue Wisp this past weekend. The audience was young and elegant: twentysomethings dressed in black cocktail outfits, mini-skirts and Armani tuxes. Cal was playing well and occasionally stretching his leg and moving it in pure pleasure, like a dog will do when you scratch just the right spot.

When Bob Bodley played a solo, I was momentarily transfixed. It quieted my mind, and I was able to listen to the foundation of notes he laid down, followed by deep, silent spaces. Years ago, when I first sang on that stage with this trio, I could have sworn I felt electricity coming from Bob to the piano player and the drummer. "The bass is the earth," he said when I asked him about it.

Bob was the first player most musicians called to do a job. He'd started out as a youngster playing with Ed Moss, then moved to New York, where he played with some of the seminal figures. He moved back home in 1990, and the transition was "cool," he said. "Nothing much had changed."

Knowing Bob, he returned on a Thursday and had a gig by Friday, playing with excellent piano players always: Ed Moss, Steve Schmidt and Jim Connerly. When the Blue Wisp job came open, he took it.

Bob was tall and slender, his face full of lines and planes like an Indian's. He had high cheekbones and a full head of light brown hair, cut like the Dutch boy's on the paint can. He was a serene kind of man who never lost his composure. He wasn't just cool -- he was Clint Eastwood material. "You dig?" he always asked, and we did.

The pianist Steve Schmidt said of him, "Bob Bodley is a great bass player. He understands music from the bottom to the top. He understands the right bass note to play against the soloist, and he understands the middle voices as well as the melody. Lots of players forget the melody, but not Bob. He always knows exactly where he is."

"I was a kid in the 1950s," Bob told me when we sat down to talk in the band room for a few quiet moments. "These guys used to come around and give you an accordion if you paid for and finished 20 lessons. You paid for the lessons, and if you learned to play the instrument you got to keep it. It looked easy to me."

It was like when he learned the E-flat lap tuba, a Dixieland horn, at Moeller High School. It was there, in fact, in the band room, that he picked up a discarded Kay upright bass with only two strings, had it restrung, adjusted the bridge, cleaned it up a little and started playing gigs.

"I played my first gig when I was 15, and I just never stopped," he said. "You dig?" I nodded.

"I was playing bass, doing weddings, club dates, but I was still just two-fingering it, really. Then I met Dee Garrett when Dee Felice was playing at the Buccaneer. He turned me on to Jazz, to the repertoire, the changes, and concurrently I took some bass lessons. Eventually I met Ed Moss and started to hang there at the Golden Triangle. That was a six-night-a-week gig, too."

Bob eventually moved to New York. He found work and sublet a loft, where every important musician stopped by for a "hang" and ended up staying to jam. He worked there for 14 years.

"The best thing about New York," Bob said, "was that someone like Miles Davis was your neighbor."

He worked with Woody Herman's band and toured and recorded with Art Farmer and Lionel Hampton and with the pianists Dave Friedman, Horace Silver and Mose Alison. Some time in the '80s, he said, the scene in New York started drying up, and for a while the city felt dangerous to him. When his wife, Cynthia, inherited her father's house in Indiana in 1990, they moved back and Bob simply took up where he left off.

Where did the confidence in his gift come from? How did he know he could learn to play that accordion when he was a kid?

"Just did," Bob said, teasingly. "Those little black buttons on the side? They represent the circle of fifths and extensions to the circle of fifths. It's cool. I liked playing the accordion.

"Anyway, I had to do it. That was the deal. You gotta pay for the hang. You dig?"



CONTACT KATIE LAUR: letters(at)citybeat.com. Her column appears here the first issue of each month.
 
 
 
 

 

comments powered by Disqus
 
Close
Close
Close