Although he never was a member of the band´s "core", the time with the Rolling Stones undoubtedly was an important factor for the wide popularity Darryl Jones has nowadays. But he already had reached the stars before that - the "high seat" of Jazz-bass in Miles Davis´ Band. He is one of the most-wanted and busy bass-players worldwide, famous for his powerful "low sound". Where do you go, when you´re already at the top? As Darryl says: Time will tell.
Jazzdimensions did an interview per e-mail, following a gig of Darryl with the Andy Summers Group in the Quasimodo, Berlin.
Carina: Your favorite basses - the only ones you played for a long time - were 'A'-Basses - which at first sight strongly resemble the Fender Jazz Bass - so what makes them different?
Darryl: I started out playing a 70' or 71' Fender Mustang which is where my love of the Fender style began. The instrument I've used most over the years is a white pre CBS 66' Fender Jazz Bass. Somewhere around 1986 I met Albey Balgochian, saw some of his basses and asked him to build a fretless bass for me in the shape and with the general feel of a jazz bass.
In 93' we started discussing the development of a production model. Several years and prototypes later we came up with "The Darryl Jones bass" by A-Basses. This is the instrument I played the last year of the Stones "Bridges To Babylon" tour. This is the instrument I've been playing most often since then. What makes the "Darryl Jones model" different is a few things Albey and I decided to change.
Carina: Why were you playing a "real" Fender-bass again with the Andy Summers group?
Darryl: As you saw the other night, I still dig old Fenders - or in this case an instrument copied by Jay Black at the Fender custom Shop from that old pre CBS 66' Fender Jazz bass I mentioned above.
Carina: Would you say that you've got a distinctive sound, or do you prefer to "blend in" the context you are playing in? Is the rest of the equipment important for your sound?
Darryl: People tell me I have a distinctive sound. But from my perspective what I try to do is find the sound that works best for the music I'm playing or for the musicians I'm playing with. Perhaps that decision making process reveals a distinctive sound. I will add that I think the bass guitar does not really reveal it's true nature until you push it with a lot of wattage even at low volumes.
For an instance, I used a 2400 watt power amp at Quasimodo the other night. I think that would seem a lot for a club that size, but the feeling you produce is superior with that level of power (in my opinion). A good clean power amp and a preamp that allows the adding of some warmth and color is essential.
Carina: You once said that "books inspired you for your music" - which sort of books are an inspiration for you? Which other sources inspire you as well?
Books inspire my life. Period. Music just happens to be the medium I'm
working with. Novels create a world into which you can escape. And with
good writing and the use of imagination they can be as fantastic as film.
Sometimes more so because it's all in your head. There are no budget limits.
And books that inform open the world of growth (in a way) to a person
sitting in a living room or wherever. I'm also inspired by film and I
guess anything that requires artistic or "in the moment" consciousness.
Favorite books? "The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success" by Deepak Chopra, "The Inner Game Of Tennis", "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison, "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings", "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien ...
Carina: You performed with Miles Davis, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Madonna and many others. Which one of all these great musicians did impress you most - and why?
Darryl: I'd have to say Miles Davis is the artist I was most impressed by. In a way he encompassed the qualities of all the artists you mentioned. Sting has the ability to morph different kinds of music into his own style. Peter's sense of theater and his commitment to theme. Madonna's work effort. Miles had all these qualities in his own particular way.
Carina: The album "You're under arrest" from Miles Davis was one you played the bass on. In my opinion, it is one of Miles best records, but it did not become as popular. What could be a reason for that, what do you mean?
Darryl: I don't know how many copies that record sold so I can't answer that question, but I will say it was great fun making that record. I introduced Sting to Miles during those sessions (the policeman speaking French on "You're Under Arrest" is Sting. )
Carina: Your career seems to be a sort of dream - does it always go as easy as it looks from outside? Is it just a follow-up of important sideman-roles? What about selfconciousness or "faith in destiny" in this context?
Darryl: I would say my career is a dream that I dreamed as a child. I dreamed not of being the greatest artist but of playing with the greatest artists. And no, it hasn't always been easy. Redirecting my energy to my own music has always been a challenge. I feel closer to the new dream of leading a band than I ever have before and though it's taken me awhile to get to it, I believe it will be something truly inspired.
Carina: You are from Chicago - how much influence did the city have on your musical development? Jean-Paul Bourelly told me, Chicago's atmosphere is something very special . . .
Darryl: I agree with Jean Paul. The mixture of urban and rural that make up the population of Chicago influence the art and culture. You've got this "Mississippi River"-influence meeting this urban energy and the musicians carry that feeling with them. Slick like the city but soulful like the country all at once.
Carina: Reggae, Blues, Rock, Hip Hop, Improvisation and Funk - you have gone through this all and play it equally well. Where do you see your roots and in what direction do you want to go in the future?
Darryl: What direction in the future? Reggae, Blues, Rock, Hip Hop, Improvisation, Funk and Vocal Music as much together at once as possible.
Carina: You are playing today as member of the "Andy Summers Group" - how would you describe the current project?
Darryl: I think Andy has put together a lot of great arrangements of Monk and Mingus tunes and I enjoy playing them with him and Dennis [Chambers]. As you know I've been playing another kind of music the last few years. It's really a pleasure to be playing this music again.
Carina: Your sign is the Sagittarius - is astrology important for you? Do you see a connection between music, magic, philosophy and religion?
Darryl: I believe if we are made up of the same elements as our planet (i.e. water versus mass, mineral etc.) and those elements are influenced by the movement of the moon and planets ... - then we must be also. It's all in the interpretation. I think music is magic and philosophy and, if taken seriously enough, religion as well.
Carina: Have you got a sort of philosophy for life?
Darryl: I believe we are here to live and let love, never force your religion on another, nothing is too wonderful to happen to me (spoken in 1st person by the person speaking), the glass is always half full ... at least, as you think and feel so shall you be, live in the moment, live your life consciously ... this is not rehearsal! - and so on and so on ...