John’s introduction to the bass came in the small university city of Durham (UK). In Leeds (UK), Washington DC and recently London (UK), he has worked in an eclectic mix of styles thanks to his strong sight-reading, ear and distinctive sound. Unusually for an electric bassist, John’s early training and a large portion of his performing credits have been in jazz, from big bands and small groups to avant-garde. He also works in pit orchestras, in funk and pop, and has recently begun performing more regularly on the upright bass.
In DC, John became the house bassist of the prestigious Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, led by Joe Herrera and Brad Linde. He recorded with Linde’s avant-garde/Americana project Team Playerswith Billy Wolfe, Aaron Quinnand Deric Dickens, and performed regularly alongside David McDonald(Airmen of Note), Kevin McDonald(US Navy Commodores), Marty Nau, and others.
Recently arriving in London, highlights include a new Trevor Mires/Nathaniel Cross(Jamiroquai, Tom Jones, Macy Gray) project alongside Sam Leak, Pat Levettand Tom Hancock, and the long-running Morgan Brothers Big Band, as well as regular engagements in the city’s jazz scene. Left to his own devices, John is happiest propelling a small jazz band from the electric bass. In recent outings with Matt Anderson, Martin Longhawn and Steve Hanley he has chosen to explore Tristano-school standards and music from Vangelis’ Blade Runnersoundtrack.
Describe your rig and/or instrument of choice:I use three electric basses, a Nordy VJ4, VJ4 fretless and PJ5. By far the most used is the fretted VJ4 which I’ve had for about 10 years. I use Genz-Benz cabs with Aguilar and Genz-Benz heads, sometimes with nice compressor made by Flattley and occasionally more exotic effects boxes.
What Nordstrand products do you use and what do you like about them? How did you discover Nordstrand/how long have you been using Nordstrand? I string my main bass, the fretted VJ4, with a very old set of Thomastik-Infeld flatwounds, and it has noiseless NJ4SE pickups. I try to avoid the stereotypical sound of the electric bass in jazz, and prefer a deep, supportive tone that retains airiness and articulation. The setup on the VJ4 is perfect for that, and I struggle to imagine a gig where I wouldn’t be happy using it. It inspires confidence and really, I forget about it, which the best compliment I can give.
The fretless VJ4 with NJ4 pickups and newer strings has a more out-front, melodic sound. I got the PJ5 for when I need a low B, and was pleased to find out how well Carey nailed the P-bass sound in a 5-string.
It’s impossible to get a bad tone out of these basses, so it’s just a matter of picking the sound you want. That and the magic playability is what I love about Nordstrand. I’d not heard of Carey’s work until I walked into Bass Direct in the UK, and the rest is history.
Artists whom with you are currently working:Trevor Mires/Nathaniel Cross, Morgan Brothers Big Band, Brad Linde’s Team Players, ad hoc jazz gigs around London…
Other artists of note whom with you have worked:Bohemian Caverns Big Band, Nathan Parker Smith, Joe Herrera, Marty Nau, David McDonald, Kevin McDonald, Leeds University Big Band, AJ Brown…
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