Christoph Victor Kaiser – a bass master from Germany. When at you a huge collection of CD with the best bassists all over the world, apparently, that you already know all best bass players and heard. It is even more pleasant to open new names, in the world many remarkable musicians and groups.
Christoph and his group Jazz Pistols have pleasantly surprised. Qualitative fusion, remarkable musicians (the guitarist and the drummer) and magnificent playing on bass. Christoph has kindly given our edition (BassBel) of interview.
1 How it all was begun?
I started on bass when I was about 17 years old. Before that I had classical training with the piano at the age of 5-10 and then I switched to violoncello from age 10-20. A schoolteacher asked me if I wouldn’t be interested to play bass in the Big Band - which was looking for a bass player at that time - and he thought that I could do it because I already played Cello.
2 Why a bass?
The bass was the instrument for me - it didn’t "clicked" for me with the piano - it was better with the cello - but playing bass was the thing I really enjoyed and where I really started practicing.
3 Do You have a music education?
As I mentioned earlier I had some classical training on piano and violoncello and I had some teachers in the beginning for the bass guitar. I worked a lot with recordings - tried to transcribe and playing back what I heard. I attended a one-year professional program at a music school for stuff like jazz harmony and other things. After that I got a scholarship from Berklee College of Music / Boston-USA which I attended for 1 year.
4 Tell please about Jazz Pistols
The Jazz Pistols is my main band. There is Stefan Ivan Schafer on guitar, Thomas Lui Ludwig on drums and me on bass and the interesting and challenging for me is to find ways of comping behind a soloist without loosing the chordstructure or "only" playing the bass. I started to incorporate tapping in my basstechnique which is now a kind of trademark of my playing. Not in a Billy Sheehan flashy - solowise form - it is more oriented to find another sound for the band, to help the tunes to grow after the theme of the guitar - that the chords don’t stop in the solo and that I still able to maintain a good groove.
5 Your basses
I play two Fodera Imperial VI-string basses - one fretted, the other fretless and I’m getting a Ritter Okon VI-string in summer 2006 which I‘m looking forward to. The fretted Fodera has a midi pickup and the Ritter will have a midi piezo system built in. I use midisounds together with a hold pedal while playing with the Jazz Pistols - so I’m able to hold some chords while playing a bassline underneath it till the next chord starts.
6 Your amp equipment
Right no I’m enjoy playing with a Focus amp from Acoustic Image - small and light, just 2,5 kg and with 800 watt enough power to drive my two incredibly light and warm sounding AccuGroove Tri112. I also like my Kern Preamp which is very bass heavy - tube sound as its best. In addition to my Kern Preamp I have a Camco Vortex 4 poweramp. I don’t use effects. I had a Walter Woods Ultra High Power for some time but that was stolen while trying to send it in to Walter for repair. Very sad - that was a great amp. It has the serial number 121204-2 if anybody know something about it please get in touch with me.
7 Favorite strings
My favorite strings are DR strings - for the fretted I use High Beams and for my frettless I use the new black beauties - black coated strings that sound great and look fantastic on the ebony fingerboard of my fretless.
8 Your favorite bass players (who has affected You)?
There are quite a few which I have to name - like the usual suspects Marcus Miller, Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten - I like very much Gary Willis, Anthony Jackson, John Patitucci, Steve Swallow and just about every bass player who has a unique voice.
9 Who from young bass players is pleasant to You?
It depends what are you meaning with young - I’m 34 years old - so when I’m looking for younger bass players that are already known I don’t know so many - maybe Felix Pastorius - the son from Jaco, Matthew Garrison is the same age like me and he is terrific.
10 In Your opinion who is the best German bass players?
I don’t think there is something like "the best" when it comes to music. There are some aspects that I wish like to see in a good musician like good time and an overall good feeling for the music - but I think it is not appropriate to say this bass player is the best. It also depends which musical style you are looking for. I like Kai Eckhard de Camargo very much - he played with John McLaughlin and many others and he lives now in the US. Stefan Rademacher is also a great player. There are a lot of great rock bass players around who are more supportive and don’t get that much attention like the known Frank Itt or Ken Taylor.
11 How to become the successful musician?
When I find out I let you know. I guess it has something to do with knowing people, practicing and knowing people... ;-)
12 Whether You play in other groups, projects, except Jazz Pistols?
I do have some other groups - I played a few years with the famous rock groups of Jule Neigel and Uwe Ochsenknecht. Beside the Jazz Pistols I have some other Jazz and Fusion groups that are very stimulating - you can check them out at http://www.jazz-pistols.de through my profile.
13 How You record bass in the studio - a line, a microphone or 1 and 2?
I record my bass only direct through my preamp - right now through my Kern IP-777. There is nothing for my taste that I can get pn addition to that from a miced signal. It is all there for me in my DI signal - much more precise. But that depends also from the musical style. Might be not the best for reggae music.
14 Whether it is necessary to know the musical letter (reading of notes at sight)?
It is always good to know as much about music as possible - including the art of how to write and read music. You never know when you might need it - but there are still a lot of good players who are known for non-reading.
15 Your creative plans?
We are working on our fourth CD with the Jazz Pistols and there is also a DVD coming out next months - from a live recording we did in 2005.
16 Your wishes to young musicians
Get to know the music business as early as possible. It is not enough to just play great - you have to work for your opportunities to play and the earlier you are starting with that the easier it will be. Otherwise just have fun - that is the most important thing that you are enjoying the music you are playing. Only then you can transport that feeling to the audience. Thanks for that interview and your interest in me and the Jazz Pistols.
All the best for You Christoph and for Jazz Pistols
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