Interview - Dave Piltch
David Piltch's career began at age 17 playing on the bandstand with: Art Pepper, Chet Baker, Gil Evans, Ed Bickert, Zoot Simms, Kenny Wheeler, George Coleman , Lee Konitz, Sonny Stit, Art Farmer, Jack Sheldon, Cleo Lane and Herb Ellis. For almost 40 years he has been collecting experiences and tools that are useful to him as a player, writer, arranger and producer. He has recorded with artists including Holly Cole, KD Lang, Elton John, Randy Newman, Bill Frisell, Bonnie Raitt and many others. For the past 6 years, he has been the Musical Director for a series of concerts involving diverse ensembles and artists, with an emphasis on: live performance, improvisation and eclectic repertoire. The result of which is a vast library ranging from Hank Williams to Hoagy Carmichael to Sly Stone to George Bizet.
What are some important musical and other lessons you've learned that you can pass on to aspiring bassists?
The 3 T’s: Tuning, Time & Tone
The singer is ALWAYS RIGHT!
I did not learn about how the bass was supposed to sound until I started playing other basses. Being attached to an instrument that you own can be a tunnel vision of experience.
What are three of your favourite recordings that you consider essential for any bassist to check out?
Allan Toussaint - The Bright Mississippi
Larry Goldings - Music From The Front Room
Holly Cole - Temptation
Can you share some practice ideas? What should aspiring bassists focus on? What worked/works for you? I realize this is a very broad question that varies with individuals' needs, but I'm looking for some general ideas, and in particular what worked for you.
Every musical situation has a repertoire that presents technical challenges or highlights particular qualities that can provide insight and inform study. If I have trouble with something I will create an exercise to focus on whatever is the problem and practice the solution.
Do you have any advice for overcoming difficulties or obstacles?
A grease marker for shift points and a tuner on my music stand!
Often I will use a recording environment to practice. Some of these exercises have ended up on my SOUNDCLOUD.
Do you have any advice for players beginning their careers?
I believe I learned more about playing the bass from singers, drummers and chordal accompanists. Attention to lyrics changed my approach to the bass in a huge way: songs are not just chords and solos. Playing other instruments like drums or guitar can give you a good perspective on what the bass can do to compliment other musical instrument roles. I love to solo but i have learned to love being the bass more!
Do you have any gear advice (specific pickups, strings, amps, etc. and what to look for)?
I think ALL PICKUPS are variations on the same theme; PIEZO technology and each one may or may not be suited for a particular bass. I have been using the Gage Realist for 20 years for live gigs. I used AKG/Schertler before that and on all the Holly Cole records. When the AKG pick up broke, I replaced it and it never sounded the same so I switched to the REALIST. Underwood before that, Polytone before that and Barcus Berry to begin with. I like to use a DPA Mic to give a sound man and often get a pretty good sound in a monitor from the Mic blended with the pick up. I have not used a pick up in the studio Since 2004 or for Live TV. I almost always refuse to allow the engineer a DI option.
I Played steel strings my whole life and switched to GUT D&G 5 years ago. I love it.
What's coming up for you and how can we follow you (website, social media, etc,)?
There are two recordings this year that I am very excited about: Randy Newman and Allan Toussaint (recorded 3 weeks before he passed).
Any other thoughts to pass along?
All the technique in the world will not give you the voice to speak one clear thought. Music is communication, thoughts spoken, sung or hammered on resonant chambers.
Get used to people calling your bass a cello, or a sound man asking for "a little bass guitar” or “is that your girlfriend”. Also, there is no cure for BASS FACE.