Two important bassists passed this week.
Charles Fambrough, who played with McCoy Tyner and Art Blakey among others, died on January 1 and Mick Karn, who played with Japan, Dali’s Car and David Torn died today, January 4th.
These musicians could not be more different. Fambrough was a jazz wizard with prodigious technique and an encyclopedic knowledge of his precursors and peers. I conducted a Downbeat Magazine blindfold test with him in 1991 when he released his solo debut. I played an obscure Stanley Clarke track called “Desert Song” (from Live 1976-1977) with John McLaughlin. Even though it was an uncharacteristically Indian-inspired track from Clarke, Fambrough not only nailed Clarke’s playing in 4 notes, he even knew what acoustic bass he was using. Obituary.
Mick Karn played fretless electric bass and had a distinctive, rubbery sound with notes that slid into each other in deep throbbing lines that could drive the post-gothic sound of Dali’s Car with Peter Murphy and the more atmospheric jazz of David Torn. I interviewed Mick a few times in the 1980s and 90s when he was playing with David Sylvian and Torn. This was back in his shaved eyebrows days. He was always erudite and enthusiastic. He also recorded several notable solo albums. Not much in the obituary zone, but here’s something from NME.
The bottom just got a lot heavier in heaven.
John Diliberto ((( echoes )))