Jack is my favorite bass player of all time--Phil Lesh having a solid lock on my number two spot--and I can't help but wonder why he isn't better known.
Just the simple passage of time has a lot to do with it, I guess. The first Airplane album came out in 1966, after all, and the original band lineup was pretty much done by 1972. Some of the various Starship incarnations were not that bad, but of course Jack and Jorma moved on to the excellent Hot Tuna which just never had the same level of popularity as far as I can tell.
The San Francisco bands (Dead, Airplane, Big Brother, Beautiful Day, Quicksilver, Moby Grape etc.) occupied the cutting edge of music for about 2 years, but then came Hendrix and Cream and things were never the same! I don't think any of those groups are all that well remembered these days except the Grateful Dead just by dint of the fact that they kept soldiering on for so many years.
I am glad I was alive to witness that whole era.
I admit there is a lot of music from the ensuing years I haven't heard, and a lot of players I may not be aware of, but in my opinion Jack Casady is still the best, most unique bass player of them all. His tone is amazing and his playing all over the neck is tasteful and beautiful.
I saw a YouTube interview with him the other day where he said--I'm paraphrasing to an extent--"I tell my students, if you just play the root, it works, and you may even get hired, but if you do all the fiddly stuff I do you may get fired." That, to me, was funny.
If you haven't heard Jack Casady I reccomend 3 tracks just for starters: "Rejoyce" from the Airplane album After Bathing at Baxter's, "In Time" from Crown of Creation, and "The Water Song" from the Hot Tuna album Burgers.
Last edited by ashevillecabbie; 09/15/1902:11 PM. Reason: correcting autocrrect
I'm also a big Casady fan, not much on the later works but the original JA line-up. His style was perfect for JA and Hot Tuna (and the period, of course). Probably my favorite bassline of his is from '3/5ths of a Mile in 10 Seconds' from the live 'Bless It's Pointed Little Head' album.
I don't really see that kind of playing translating well into a lot of other musical genres, though. Like Phil, Jack's style is a pivotal part of the genre of 60s psychedelic rock and the Haight-Ashbury scene and is identified with their groups and musical catalog. Meshed with that kind of music, it's unstoppable. To have that kind of busy playing for a majority of other genres is kinda like that Harmonica Player from Hell that we've all shared the stage with at one time or another - just soloing all the time, during verses, during choruses, intros, outros, breaks, trips to the loo, loading out, breakfast with the family, etc. I have a very good friend, an excellent technical bassplayer but sometimes I just want to smack him upside the head and remind him that there's a root note in there somewhere - maybe he should play that every now and again. It comes under the heading of 'Well, we know he can do that...!'.
Thanks from bringing up Casady, though. It gave me the excuse to cue up a bunch of JA for this morning's soundtrack.
Jack was one of my early influences (John Entwistle being primary). I like the Airplane, and some Hot Tuna; though to me, Tuna was something I could enjoy and appreciate but didn't want as a steady part of my musical diet. Saving it for special occasions makes it more special. Never saw him live, though. I guess I need to do that sooner rather than later, huh?
"Am I enough of a freak to be worth paying to see?"- Separated Out (Marillion) NEW band Old band
It's funny, I used to be a huge fan of Casady and Lesh, but having not listened to any of that music in eons, it surprises me that I can't think how any of their bass lines go. That may be a good thing; I don't know. Some are of the school that the bass should be felt, not heard. Or not noticed, because it's doing its job without standing out. I sometimes feel that way about Entwistle, but then there's "Behind Blue Eyes".
Within a week of moving to SF in late '91, I saw a brief reunion of JA with all available original members (from Volunteers era or a bit after). I was so excited because it was the first and only time I got to hear Casady, and in the context of JA vs. Hot Tuna to boot! It influenced the choices of basses that I bought during the 90's, but then I went 180 degrees when I started doing a lot of recording gigs and way more top-tier gigs, and I suddenly realized that the bias towards P-Basses was neither snobbery nor laziness but rather well-informed.
Casady was definitely enjoyable to watch live though. Very detail-oriented and conscientious as a listener within his group. Not ego-driven, not sloppy, more like what I expect from jazz players in terms of discipline overall. But these days I tend to think of him more as a tenor voice than a traditional bass role, except in the context of Hot Tuna power trio type stuff.
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