October 28, 2016

If you are not acquainted with extended range or solo bass then you may not know the name Igor Saavedra. If that’s the case, here is a chance to learn some about a master musician, career educator and Renaissance Man, and about his latest album,  Organic Bass 1 . Igor has been using our pickups exclusively for 10 years, so he might be described as a dedicated fan. Since we’re huge fans of him and his playing, this works out well for us!

One of the most interesting things about this Chilean treasure is that his original plan was not to be a musician but rather to teach physical education. It was happenstance that brought him to bass.

‘I was in the 5 th  and last year at the University, about to become a PE teacher and then go to China to get my higher degrees in martial arts (Wu Shu, my absolute passion at that time), when I saw a poster on a wall of the faculty lounge that read “Today, Jazz Concert at Gym #3 – 1pm”. I really had nothing to do at that time after my physical training. I was tired, it was hot and that gym was really cool so I bought a Hotdog and sat in the floor in front of the stage without even having heard the word “Jazz” before that day as far as I can remember.

Igor SaavedraBut despite that, once the “strange” concert began, and to my big surprise, I started to cry after just a few minutes, mainly because of a “weird” instrument I didn’t even recognize, which was getting 110% of my attention. Obviously after the concert and asking the musician who was playing that “thing” I found out it was a Bass, so 15 minutes after that concert I left the faculty and never returned to my previous life, not even the next day, not even later to finish my university studies. I left 10 years of intense martial arts studies behind as well.’

Maybe it wasn’t happenstance. As it turns out the date in question was September 21st, 1987.

Many years after that turning point in my life I found out that this band was playing Weather Report music (great music luckily for me) and the most strange and incredible thing: that very same day when I was destroying and rebuilding all my paradigms and embracing Bass in my soul and my spirit, even without knowing about his existence but nevertheless enjoying his music and his bass lines, Jaco was passing away. 

I’m a very rational, evolved and agnostic being, but who knows; perhaps when I was listening to his music just one quantum particle of his body-free soul was heading maybe towards the southern pole before heading to the cosmos and reaching the stars and I was lucky enough to be at the right moment and at the right place so being able to “feel his energy exactly while listening to his music.”

Why music? Why bass? Why that very same day? The bottom line is that everything happened that day has been for sure the most intense and unexplainable experience of my life.

It’s no surprise that Igor Saavedra’s philosophy of music is as thought-provoking as what brought him to the path that he has been following with single-minded passion.

My main goal in terms of music and in terms of my career is being able to finally achieve what I consider the ultimate achievement of any artist and by extension of any real musician and serious artist, and that is being able to focus on sharing just the most sublime feelings and sensations with the audience rather than focusing on impressing the audiences through abilities and/or skills. It’s so easy to take the wrong direction in terms of the ultimate purpose of a real musician, and proving that is as easy as going out to a club to listen to some music or as watching a YouTube video where some player or players are performing. Ego is the first enemy of any musician, and by that I mean a badly managed self-esteem with a disproportionate size and a confused direction.

You can see and hear for yourself what Igor’s music and performance are like as his new album is in video format. Where it would be easy to take this as a self-aggrandizing gesture, the reasoning was very much in keeping with the man’s considered approach to everything he does.

I don’t use any kind of effects, loop machines, tracks, preamps, knobs
I decided to record this album in video because as you know for many years I’ve been a bass soloist to the maximum extension of that concept, and that means I don’t use any kind of effects, loop machines, tracks, preamps, knobs, sound editing, etc. That’s my stage approach and I still haven’t seen any other bassist doing that, so it was quite important for my recordings to clearly reflect what I do on stage. I needed to let the audience know that this is as simple as it could get and at the same time that I was not cheating or hiding any dirty trick from them. Also, being just one instrument filing the sounding space I thought that adding some visual information would complete in a better way “the artistic whole”, and I think that was clearly accomplished, at least many great magazine reviews agreed on that.


But his musicality extends even to his remarkable instrument, named Octavius, which is in ongoing development thanks to his being an evolving artist and performer. The minimalist design is currently in its fourth iteration and is being executed by Mark Ramsay of RMI ( www.ramsay-bass.co.uk) who is also a proponent of Nordstrand Pickups. Previous luthiers Igor has worked with are all world class: Alfonso Iturra, Claudio González and Oscar Prat. The bass’ striking look and goal of pure practicality is enhanced by a very special set of our  Dual Coil pickups wired directly to the output jack. 

I haven’t yet mentioned the pickups loading my 8-String basses, so I want to say that all my basses have only and exclusively Nordstrand DC8 pickups, two on each bass of course. These pickups are custom made to my specs so they have many details that differentiate them from a regular Nordstrand DC pickup, one of the main reasons among others is that they have to be inserted in my MicRamp.

But Dual Coils aren’t the only model he has had in his arsenal. Igor briefly owned and played a 5 string instrument based on the same principles and using the same fundamental format as Octavius. Its name? Quintin, of course!

Ohhh, that MicRamp Custom made Nordstrand  MM5.4 pickup! Woooww! That’s the best sounding MusicMan type pickup I’ve ever heard in my life!!’

In addition to his touring schedule as a performer and clinician, Igor has been a teacher for most of the last 30 years and is — not surprisingly — as thoughtful in this respect as he is in everything else. 

The teacher is not any kind of god and makes mistakes like any human being, so because of that simple statement should always open the spaces for being respectfully objected. But at the same time every student has to understand that the chances of being right in any discussion related to the subjects he’s learning are always minimum, so it’s important that they should check and double check before telling the teacher that he might be wrong, otherwise there might be a lot of lost time in a class. The best part of a class though is when I’m in fact wrong because that great and scarce moment gives me the opportunity to correct myself and grow by learning from my students.

Another important thing is that a student must find the healthy amount of influence from his teacher. Crossing that border is very dangerous because it might affect the most precious asset of any artist which is “individuality”, this is also a matter of concern for any teacher because there’s a fine line between influencing and cloning.

A student must also understand that a musical career and art are not the same at all. While our artistic expression must remain hopefully untouched by elements like competition, impressing, prevailing, achieving, selling, convincing, concession, etc., our career must be understood in a quite different way, honoring in fact the Latin root of that word, so in my humble opinion a “career” must incorporate all those unfairly criminalized concepts and many more in a reasonable proportion and submitted to a healthy ethical and moral context. If the student doesn’t understand that huge and crucial difference between the very art studied, developed and performed and the career supporting that artistic product, we’ll probably have a great player with an unsuccessful career as a result. And what’s most important in terms of real life: somebody who will be have problems filling his stomach or the gas tank.

Lest you think that it stops there, Igor is also a poet and philosopher with a voracious literary diet!

Well, I have a personal saying: “If life is only about music, what and/or who are you going to sing to?” So, I want to play my bass, inspiring myself on a daily basis, on my experiences, in the life I live, so I need to study, to internalize, to comprehend and to feel the most I can if I want to keep trying to create real and committed music.

That being said, in terms of authors and people I’ve mainly focused on studying some of the work and publications produced by people like Bertrand Russell, Nicanor Parra, Hermes Trismegistus, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Nikola Tesla, Isaac Newton, Jules Verne, Stephen Hawking, Antoine de Saint-Exupery and many more…

We hope you’ve enjoyed this closer look at a great musician and artist, but please feel free to check out his  website and  YouTube to learn more. It is an honor and a pleasure to have such a great talent on the Nordstrand roster!!

Finally I want to thank Nordstrand and all the Nordstrand crew, especially Carey, Stew and Adrian for being on my side, endorsing my work for this first decade of successful business and friendship relation. I really hope we will stay together for many decades to come. So for now I’ll be looking forward the next special interview in 2026, celebrating our 20 successful years working together. Peace and love to all!!

 

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