Jimmy’s bass is an integral part of the Yellowjackets sound. In addition to building the foundation upon which their songs are crafted, his thoughtful and often fiery solos are a high water mark of many Yellowjackets tracks.
Jimmy Haslip grew up in a rich musical environment. As a youth, he listened to Latin and salsa music around the house, including such Latin music icons as Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Machito, Ray Barretto, Celia Cruz and Eddie Palmieri, to name a few. In addition to learing various Latin dances from his parents, Jimmy learned how to play a lot of basic Latin rhythms on the different percussion instruments that they had around the house. He learned to play authentically on the claves, maracas, cowbell, bongos and the guido, which gave him that keen sense of time and rhythm that surfaces in his bass playing today.
His older brother Gabriel also played Jimmy some jazz and classical music, so he had exposure to John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, Eric Dolphy, Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck on one hand, and the music of Debussy, Stravinsky, Beethoven, Mozart and Mahler on the other. Jimmy says, "This was an eye opening time for me and even though most of this music was over my head, it definitely ignited my musical curiosity. I also was listening to a lot of Pop music, like the Beatles, the Supremes, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Wilson Pickett, James Brown and lots of great Pop music on the radio. I can remember that it was a very exciting time for music!"
Jimmy began studying music in elementary school, playing the trumpet and other assorted brass instruments (including the bugle, baritone horn and tuba) from age seven to fourteen. Jimmy picked up a bass at the age of fifteen and taught himself how to play it. "Actually the very first time I saw an electric bass, was at a junior high Valentine's day dance. There was a live band playing and the bass player had an reddish/orange Hagstrom bass and a small Standel bass amp. It was then that I knew I wanted to play the electric bass! What a feeling! I'll never forget it as long as I live. It was my very first real spark of creative passion!"
While being mostly self taught on the bass, Jimmy studied with a private bass/tuba player from New York named Ron Smith. He was also very fortunate to have studied with one of jazz music’s greatest talents. "…I did manage to study with Jaco Pastorius for a few weeks in the mid seventies, when he had just joined Weather Report. That was a giant leap for me as a serious musician and it filled me with a much higher level of inspiration. I think he was a major inspiration to all bass players at that time!"
To sum it up, Jimmy offers this inspirational piece of advice that is applicable to any musician, whether new or experienced: "I've basically learned so much from just about every musician I've performed with in the past and I will continue to learn from my experiences in the future. The learning process is never ending. The key is to always strive and search for knowledge. In learning new things everyday, there will be inspiration. That inspiration will thirst for knowledge and so the endless cycle goes. They will feed each other infinitely and theoretically the ‘creative well’ will never run dry."
So, what musical influences does Jimmy claim? "Well definitely for me the Beatles, especially Paul McCartney, inspired the melodic concept and James Brown inspired the groove. There was Tito Puente and Mongo Santamaria who inspired rhythm. Béla Bartók, Mozart, Prokofiev, Samuel Barber, Chick Corea, early Genesis, Gentle Giant, Olivier Messiaen, Dmitri Shostakovich,Krzysztof Penderecki, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Villalobos, Brahms, Wayne Shorter, Zawinul, Jaco Pastorius, Alban Berg, Mingus, Miles,Nicolas Slominski, Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Joni Mitchell, Basie, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, The Motown Sound and Aaron Copeland, just to name a few that inspired writing, arranging and composition.
"Van Gogh, Dali, Henri Rousseau, Georgia O'keeffe, Leonardo DaVinci,
Galileo, Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Plato, Walt Whitman, Marc Chagall, Henry
Moore, Edward Hopper, Rembrandt, Picasso, Botero, Matisse, Escher,
Canaletti, Gaudi, Gauguin, Federico Fellini, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven
Speilberg, Frank Capra,Orson Welles, Lina Wertmuller, Ingmar Bergman,
François Truffaut to name a few who inspired my imagination."
And last but not least, perhaps the most influential person in Jimmy’s career: "Jimi Hendrix was the sole inspiration for me playing music as a profession. Seeing him perform live was awsome and it lit a fire within me, which eventually gave me the drive to pursue music as a career."
Here are some of Jimmy's recent accomplishments during the past year:
Sandro Albert: a young Brazilian guitarist’s recording
featuring Milton Nasciamento, Peter Erskine, Kenny Garrett, Bob
Sheppard, Edsel Gomez, Renato Neto, Luis Conte, Antonio Sanchez, and myself.
"I’ve executive produced a wonderful project for the Make A Wish
Foundation which features pre-recorded material by;
the Yellowjackets, Bruce Hornsby, Richard Page, Chuck Loeb,
Kevyn Letteau, Gino Vannelli, a cut from “ARC”, Sergio Salvatore,
Brenda Russell and more."
New Productions also include:
Native Vibe “Spirits” on DOMO Records.
Michael Franks “Barefoot On the Beach” on Windham Hill Records.
A Marilyn Scott recording with Russell Ferrante “Avenues of Love” for
the Warners label.
A track on the latest Gino Vannelli recording “Slow Love” on Verve
A duet with Marilyn Scott and Bobby Caldwell appearing on Bobby’s “Timeline”
release . . . Syndrome Records.
Jimmy also plays on the following projects released over the past year:
Everette Harp “Better Times”,
Dwight Sils “Easy”,
Warren Sneed “Brothers”,
Glenn Jones “It’s Time”,
Gary Wright “Best of the Dreamweaver”,
Marc Antione “Madrid”,
Ricky Lawson and friends “First Things 1st” ,
"Heart and Soul - New Songs from Ally McBeal" featuring Vonda Shepard,
John Molo’s "Modereko"
Gerald Albright/Will Downing “Pleasures of the Night”, and
Tribute to Lowell George “Rock n’ Roll Doctor”.
Some More Upcoming projects and releases:
A new Marilyn Scott recording due out next year.
A new Brenda Russell recording.
A new Kevyn Lettau release for Universal Records.
A new Gary Wright recording.
A new band recording called Inri with drummer Shawn Glyde.
Artists Jimmy Has Performed With
Jimmy’s credits are a virtual who’s who of the popular and jazz music industry. This is the "short list" of some of the talents he has recorded and/or toured with over the past 21 years:
Gino Vanelli, David Sanborn, Rod Stewart, Michael Sembello, Joe Cocker, Vince Mendoza, Chaka Khan, Eric Marienthal, Al Jarreau, John Scofield, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Brenda Russell, Dave Mason, Tom Scott, Bo Diddley, Marilyn Scott, Dori Caymmi, Betty Wright, Ivan Lins, Kenny Loggins, Flora Purim & Airto, Rickie Lee Jones, El Debarge, Chi Coltrane, The Chiffons, Gary Wright, The 5 Satins, Larry Carlton, Chubby Checker, Booker T. Jones, Cheech Marin, Mick Fleetwood & the Zoo, Kiss, Christopher Williams, John Klemmer, John Finley, Tommy Bolin, Carmine Appice, Charlie Watts, Michael Narada Walden, Milton Nascimento, Christopher Williams, Roy Ayers, Mark Stein, Lee Ritenour, Laura Brannigan, Jackie Lomax, Bobby Caldwell, Walter Becker, Randy Crawford, Harvey Mandel, Diane Reeves, James Ingram, Ricardo Silveira, Michael Franks, Bonnie Raitt, Pat Metheny, Michael Penn, Jerry Garcia, Jimmy Barnes, Branford Marsalis, Blackjack w/ Michael Bolton, Dave Koz, Kenny G, Steve Reid, Bob Mintzer, Bob Mamet, Bob Sheppard, Greg Karukas, Bruce Beckvar, Larry John McNally, Randy Brecker, Bob James, Vinnie Colaiuta, Max Carl, Sovory, Dusty Springfield, Andy Snitzer, Bill Gable, Kevyn Letteau, John Beasley, Don Grusin, Carl Anderson, James House, Nana Vasconcelos, Boney James, Justo Almario, Michael Ruff, Diana Ross, Bobby Lyle, Vonda Shepard, Aureo Baquiero, Marc Antione, Sergio Salvatore, Dave Sammuels, Andy Narell, Bill Champlin, Michael English, Huey Lewis, Toots Thielmanns, Selena, Harvey Mason, Paulinho Da Costa, Alex Acuña, Herb Alpert, Tim Hagans, Michael Davis, David Meece, Lisa Fischer, Mike Pinera, Paulinho Da Costa, Tower of Power Horns, Richard Page, Steve Khan/Trio Electric, Peter Erskine, Dennis Chambers, Andy Laverne, Terry Bozzio, Kiki Ebsen, Joe Sample, David Benoit, Ron Wood, Ndugu Leon Chancelor, Richard Elliot, Neil Larson, The Rippingtons, Jon Anderson, Robben Ford, Nigel Olsen, Joshua Redman, Michael McDonald, Phil Perry, Andy Summers, Bela Fleck, Bobby McFerrin, Take 6, Anita Baker, Donald Fagen, Bruce Hornsby, Everette Harp, Kevyn Letteau, Kenny Garrett, Sandro Albert, Edsel Gomez, Otmaro Ruiz, Carmine Appice, Gerald Albright,
Bruce Willis, Chuck Loeb, Kurt Elling, Jonathan Butler,
Luis Conte, Dwight Sils, Glenn Jones, Native Vibe, Mitchell Froom,
Warren Sneed, Michiel Bortslap, Terri Lynn Carrington,
Patrice Rushen, Milton Nascimento, and George Harrison.
Here is what Jimmy has been listening to lately:
Gonzalo Rubalcaba “Antigua”,
Deep Rumba “The Night Becomes A Rumba”,
Salif Keita “Amen”,
Weather Report; “Live in Tokyo”,
Michael Brecker “Tales from the Hudson”,
Jaco Pastorius “Word of Mouth”,
Bob Mintzer “Quality Time”,
Bobby Shew “Salsa Caliente”, and
Miles Davis “Miles Smiles”.
Other influential recordings in his musical library include: "Anything by Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Jimi Hendrix and Mozart to start with. I have the entire Frank Zappa catalogue, the entire Earth, Wind and Fire catalogue, all of Little Feat’s recordings, almost everything that John Coltrane recorded, Segovia solo guitar recordings, a lot of Mahler, Pablo Casals and Mistislav Rostopovich's cello works, anything by Joni Mitchell, Alban Berg's "The Lulu Suite", Penderecki's cello concerto #2, any classical piece that has ever been recorded is worth listening to in my opinion! Les McCann/Eddie Harris "Swiss Movement", Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago "I" and "II", The Police "Synchronicity", Eric Dolphy" Out to Lunch", all of Ornette Coleman's catalogue, The Band" Music from Big Pink", Stanley Clarke "School Days", Herbie Hancock "Thrust" and "Empyrean Isles", Wayne Shorter "Speak No Evil", Mongo Santamaria "El Gato", everything by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Robert Johnson, Jeff Beck "Blow by Blow" and "Wired", Areosmith "Pandora's Box", King Crimson box set, James Brown box set, Crosby, Stills & Nash box set, Eric Clapton "Derek and the Dominos", Peter Gabriel "So" and "Us", anything by the Beatles, I have every recording by Tower of Power, Salif Keita"Soro", Donald Fagan "Nightfly", Blue Nile "Hats", Jaco Pastorius "Word of Mouth", Don Henley" End of Innocence", Janet Jackson "Rhythm Nation", Stevie Wonder "Songs in the Key of Life", Alan Holdsworth "Sand", Ralph Towner "Blue Sun", Steve Khan "Casa Loco", Chaka Khan "I FeelFor You" and "Whatcha Gonna Do For Me", Vince Mendoza "Instructions Inside", Michael Franks "Blue Pacific", "Dragonfly Summer" and " abandoned Garden", Cesaria Evora, Sting "Ten Summoners Tales", Neil Young "Harvest", Stevie Winwood "Back in the High Life", Steely Dan "Aja" and "Gaucho", Cream "Disreali Gears", Gino Vannelli "Brother to Brother" and "Inconsolable Man", Emmylou Harris "Wrecking Ball", Weather Report "Heavy Weather" and "Night Passage", Chick Corea "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs", Bobby McFerrin "Bang Zoom", Sly and the Family Stone "Fresh"and anything else by them, the Beach Boys "Pet Sounds", James Taylor "Fire and Rain", Yes "Fragile", anything by Bruce Hornsby, The Zeppelin box set and anything by the Keith Jarrett trio with Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock just to name a few."
"I play and endorse MTD basses, which are hand made instruments by a Luthier named Mike Tobias. He also had a company several years ago named Tobias Guitars and I still play these original hand made instruments.
"I mainly like to play fretless bass and the main work horse for gigs is a Basic amber colored 6-string fretless that Mike made for me around 7 years ago. I use different basses in the studio. For recording: A Yamaha TRB 5-string fretted bass, a BB 1200s 8-string fretted bass, a Jim Tyler 5-string fretted bass, Tobias 5 & 6-string fretless', a Tobias 6-string fretted, a Moon 4-string fretted bass and on the new Yellowjackets CD "Blue Hats", I'm playing an MTD 7-string fretless bass as well.
"I mainly use and endorse Dean Markley, Super Round, Medium Light, SR 2000 strings. The Will Lee set (the gauges are: C-27, G-47, D-67, A-87, E-107,B-127) Those are the gauges for the 6-string basses. Adding the high F-string to make the 7-string, I use a 20 gauge string, compatible to the 6-string set.
"For amplification I use and endorse SWR Engineering power amps and speaker cabinets. With the Yellowjackets, my usual set is two SM-400 power amps and two Goliath Junior with two 10 inch speakers in each cabinet. I get a wide stereo split image from an old analog Ibanez C-3 chorus pedal (which is no longer available unless you find one in a pawn shop or a hip music shop that deals in used equipment).
"In the studio I usually just go into a direct box (preferably a Simon box or some kind of tube box, for achieving the ultimate warm/acoustic-like bass sound). Occasionally I will use an amp in the studio (mostly by request). So I will usually use an SWR Engineering Red Head Combo amp or a Baby Blue Combo amp. These amps have an extremely clean sound and a very strong, powerful punch for their size. A great recording amp for studio work!"
As for other instruments: "I do dabble on the guitar and piano/synthesizers,
in order to write music, but I'm not very adept on these instruments. I can
play some very simple blues riffs on the harmonica."
Home Life and Other Interests
Outside of his career, Jimmy spends time with his wife Nancy and his three children—a 17-year-old son named Jason, a 14-year-old son named Noah, and an adorable two-year-old daughter named Gabriela.
As for non-musical interests: "I'm a big sports fan. You can pretty much get me interested in just about any sport. I love American Football and Basketball and since I grew up in New York, I really keep an eye on the Knicks, the Giants (they're having a tough time of it),the Jets (... Oh boy), the World Champion Yankees, the Mets, the Rangers and the Islanders.
"I love film and I like to study film scores. I have over one hundred black and white films on video and I've studied my favorite film composers from the 40's Max Steiner extensively. I love going to museums, art galleries, and really enjoy travel and exploring new places. I especially the family trips.
"My favorite reads about Astronomy and Space Exploration and anything to do with the Mediphysical aspects of life. I also like reading and study World History.
"My biggest rave is Ethnomusicology which I've been doing a study on for the last 9 years. It seems to me that this is an inexhaustible subject that will continue to produce and unveil new music for my creative library."
You can find more information about Jimmy Haslip and his activities at the official Jimmy Haslip Website.
Return to Biographies Index