A significant jazz composer and a distinctively lyrical bassist, Steve Swallow has had a notably wide-ranging career, from early work on acoustic bass to his innovative use of the electric bass. His compelling compositions bridge the genres of jazz and rock. Steve Swallow has placed first in the Downbeat International Critics Poll since 1983 (electric bass), in the Downbeat Readers Poll since 1985, and has won the Jazz Times poll (electric bass) several times recently. He lives in upstate New York.
Harvey Citron speaks about Steve Swallow: “Working with Steve has been a real pleasure. I had given up on my wish to create an intonation-adjustable wooden bridge with piezo, because it seemed impossible to achieve. Steve loved the tone of the AE5 and would have settled for the custom-intonated wide-saddle wooden bridge I was making, but really needed an adjustable bridge, because accurate intonation is so critical to him. Suddenly, in Steve’s presence, and out of his need, the solution came to me — the first wooden piezo bridge adjustable for intonation was born. Even though the string response on the new bridge was even across all five strings (Steve plays E–C), Steve still wanted more E string. We ended up with two piezos for the low E string, and two for the A–C, with two adjustable for volume buffer circuits. Steve is a perfectionist — I love it. Later he realized that he solos on the C-string and wanted more volume for it. His piezo setup currently includes six piezos and three buffer circuits. Two piezos for the low E, two for A–G, and two for the high C string. He has total control.”
I have built 5 basses for Steve over the years we have been working together. Each new instrument has been an improvement. The latest change has been a new neck — a three-piece lamination of Honduras Mahogany/East Indian Rosewood/Honduras Mahogany, with an East Indian Rosewood fingerboard.
Byron Isaacs records and tours with The Lumineers.
Isaacs was one of the six founding members of Ollabelle, played bass for Levon Helm’s famous Midnight Rambles and played on both of Helm’s Grammy-winning albums (writing the song “Calvary” on “Dirt Farmer”). Isaacs played and toured with Amy Helm, producing her first solo album “Didn’t it Rain”. In June 2018, Isaacs released his debut solo album, “Disappearing Man”, to rave reviews. In addition, Isaacs has recorded and/or performed with Willie Nelson, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Scialfa, Roseanne Cash, Jackson Browne, Nina Nastasia, Ryan Adams, Chris Smither, Richard Shindell, Mary Fahl, The Weight Band, and Larry & Teresa Williams.
John Sebastian, of “Lovin’ Spoonful”, “Welcome Back Kotter” fame, is a good friend and neighbor of mine. Our kids hung out together. John has always been a lover of guitars, and of being around shops that produce them. He worked in Tom Vinci’s shop when Tom built guitars. When Veillette-Citron moved to Kingston, NY, which is very close to Woodstock, John started to come around. He asked us to build him a Baritone. He had been playing Fender 6-string basses tuned down a fifth, and strung with strings gauged from .016 to .080. The sound was amazing, and enchanting. He used to capo at the second fret or so to make the reach a little bit more manageable. We built him a 28–3/4” scale Baritone that worked very well for him. Ever since I started building again, I hoped that John would ask me to build him a Baritone. I had a strong feeling that the Baritone would be amazing built the way I build my 2–1/2” thick mostly hollow instruments. I let him play a variety of my guitars with different degrees of hollowness, and he agreed with me. When I finished his Baritone he said it was the best sounding Baritone ever. The first baritone I built for him has a body of Honduras Mahogany, Spruce top, Mahogany neck, fingerboard Rosewood fingerboard, Rosewood bridge with a custom compensated thick bone saddle. John didn’t use piezo, so that Baritone is totally passive with two humbuckers, a three-position pickup selector, master volume and master tone. At a NAMM show some time later John borrowed a Baritone to play in a show. It had a Quilted Maple top in lieu of Spruce, and a piezo with all of the electronics necessary to make that work (active circuit with master volume, stacked volumes for the magnetic pickups and piezo, a passive tone for the mags, stacked treble/bass for the piezo, and a mono/stereo switch). He loved it, and that has been his Baritone of choice ever since.
(Yes, real name) is a sought after instrumentalist for Lap Steel, Dobro, and Steel Guitar. She is the recipient of numerous awards including five grammys for her work with premier Western swing group “Asleep At The Wheel”, and the first woman to be inducted into the Texas Steel Guitar Hall Of Fame.
Cindy has toured and recorded with a variety of artists, including Ryan Adams, Bob Dylan (on his Grammy winning “Time Out of Mind” album), Dave Alvin, Van Morrison, Albert Lee, Sonny Landreth, and many more.
Dave Swift has established himself as one of the UK’s finest high profile bass players. He has been in the house band for the UK’s premier music television show“ Later with Jools Holland” for over 20 years, and has worked with an array of renowned artists, including George Benson, Chaka Khan, Eric Clapton, and Paul Simon.
Six string bass player, composer, and Shamisen player, Moto Fukushima was born in Kobe, Japan and is based in New York City.
His study of Western classical music, Japanese traditional music, and the African-inspired musical sensibilities of South America are all heard in his jazz improvisation.
Moto is the co-leader of Brooklyn-based power trio “House Of Waters” and has performed with Mike Stern, Leni Stern, Karsh Cale, Dave Weckl, Joel Lovano, and many others.
Ronan Guilfoyle is a bassist, composer and an acknowledged innovator in the area of rhythmic technique. He has toured extensively in Europe, Asia, and America, performing with such artists as Dave Liebman, Kenny Werner, Joe Lovano, Kenny Wheeler, Brad Mehldau, John Abercrombie, Benny Golson, and Jim McNeely. Ronan’s book, “Creative Rhythmic Concepts for Jazz Improvisation”, is now seen as the standard text for the teaching of advanced rhythmic techniques. He has taught this at many schools around the world including Berklee College of Music, The New School, and is an associate Artist of the Royal
Mark Goldenberg is a guitarist who has played on records for a myriad of artists including Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Eels, Natalie Imbruglia, Chris Isaak, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Peter Frampton and yes, William Shatner.
He has been lead guitarist for Jackson Browne since 1994.
He is also a songwriter whose works have been recorded by Linda Rondstat, Chicago, Pointer Sisters, Natalie Imbruglia, Eels, Chris Botti, and yes, Olivia Newton John, among others.
Rodolfo Stroeter, an amazing South American bass player, and huge fan of Steve Swallow, got in touch with me to build him an AE4 in 2004. He is well known and his recordings are all over the web.
Andrea Lombardini is one of the most original European bass players. In his early twenties he recorded twice with “Randomania” together with Blue Note artist Gianluca Petrella, Roberto Cecchetto and ECM artist U.T.Gandhi. His project as a leader, “ALT” (Andrea Lombardini Trio), won the national jazz contest of Baronissi in 2002 and recorded the year after. In 2004 Andrea won the International contest for bass players Euro Bass Day playing in front of, among others, Anthony Jackson, Daryl Jones, Matt Garrison, Mike Pope. In 2006 he recorded in the US “ALT88” with Bob Gullotti, drummer from the Fringe, and the new rising star of piano Leo Genovese. He is also active with the trio “Chiamalo” with Tolo Marton, the greatest rock-blues Italian player and co leader with “Caffeine”, a power guitar trio with MusicMan artist Daniele Gregolin. Andrea’s last projects are the “Broken Band”, a quintet with some of the most talented Italian and European jazz players playing original compositions and “The Plug”, an acoustic/electric trio with Gianluca Petrella on trombone and Giovanni Giorgi on drums. He also plays with pop-rock rising star Chiara Canzian.
Andrea, who lives in Treviso, Italy, got in touch with me in November 1999; a little less than a year after Steve Swallow bought his first Citron AE5. To my surprise, he wanted the bass built with the same exact specifications as Steve (extremely narrow neck—1 9/16” wide at the nut, with 1/2” spacing between the strings at the bridge) he was going to emulate his hero down to the copper pick. He has since found his own voice, is still playing his AE5, and getting amazing tone. Steve has also left one of his Swallow basses in Andrea’s care so that he can access it quickly should any problems arise while he is on tour in Europe (Steve travels with only one bass).
Grammy winner Henry Kaiser is widely recognized as one of the most creative and innovative guitarists, improvisers, and producers in the fields of rock, jazz and experimental music. The California-based musician is one of the most extensively recorded as well, having appeared on more than 225 different albums and contributed to countless television and film soundtracks. A restless collaborator who constantly seeks the most diverse and personally challenging contexts for his music, Mr. Kaiser not only produces and contributes to a staggering number of recorded projects, he performs frequently throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan, with several regular groupings as well as solo guitar concerts and concerts of freely improvised music with a host of diverse instrumentalists. Evidence of his exceptional musical breadth and versatility can be found in a partial list of the extraordinary artists with whom he has recorded and/or performed: Herbie Hancock, Richard Thompson, David Lindley, Bob Weir, The ROVA Sax Quartet, Elliot Sharp, John “Drumbo” French, Raymond Kane, Michael McClure, Bill Laswell, Steve Lacy, Fred Frith, Barbara Higbie, John Abercrombie, Leo Smith, moe., Negativland, Michael Stipe, Terry Riley, Jim O’Rourke, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sergei Kuriokhin, Zero, Critters Buggin’, Diamanda Galas, Sonny Sharrock, Hans Reichel, Chris Cutler, Henry Cow, John Zorn, Andy West, David Torn, Bill Frisell, Joey Baron, Davey Williams, Eugene Chadbourne, Evan Parker, Sang-Won Park, Material, The Golden Palominos, Victoria Williams, Jin-Hi Kim, John Oswald, Glenn Phillips, Toshinori Kondo, John Stevens, Tom Constanten, Kiyohiko Senba, Bruce Anderson, Sang-Won Park, Yuji Takahashi, John Medeski, Zoogz Rift, Ngoc Lam, Dama Mahaleo, Merl Saunders, Freddie Roulette, Mari Kimura, Harvey Mandel, Danny Carnahan, Robin Petrie, Rakoto Frah, Rossy, Alan Senauke, John Tchicai, George Lewis, Kazumi Watanabe, Peter Brotzmann, Zero, Bob Bralove, Greg Allman, Billy Kreutzman, Jerry Garcia, Miya Masaoka, Miroslav Tadic, Cecil Taylor, Nels Cline, and Amos Garrett.
Kaiser has had a parallel career in the film and television industry for over 30 years, working as a producer, director and soundtrack composer. He directed and produced many hours of science television programming. He received an Academy Award nomination for his work as the producer for Werner Herzog’s ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD, he was also the underwater camera and soundtrack composer for that film. Kaiser worked on 3 other Herzog films: THE WILD BLUE YONDER, GRIZZLY MAN, and LITTLE DIETER NEEDS TO FLY.
He is a scientific diver in the US ANTARCTIC PROGRAM. 2011 will mark his ninth deployment beneath the twenty foot thick ice of the Ross Sea. Previously he taught underwater research at THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT BERKELEY for 17 years; where he was an early pioneer in the use of underwater video for scientific research and diver training. Mr. Kaiser has more Antarctic under-the-ice footage in films and tv shows than any other underwater cameraman and probably has more dives under fast ice than any other professional videographer.
Bassist and composer Ike Sturm was raised in a musical home in Wisconsin, learning from his father, renowned composer and arranger, Fred Sturm. Ike studied jazz and classical bass and composition while earning undergraduate and graduate degrees at the Eastman School of Music. In addition, he drew inspiration from studies with legendary bassist Dave Holland. Ike is currently touring, finishing a new album for Ike Sturm + HEART and composing several new 2022 large-scale commissions for choir and string orchestra to be premiered and recorded in New York and Israel.
JIMMY VIVINO, “CONAN O’BRIEN SHOW”: CC1 (Arched Top Chambered Guitar)
MIKE MERRITT, “CONAN O’BRIEN SHOW”: NT4 (Neck Through 4-String Bass)
PAULO R. DINIZ, JR., “JOTA QUEST”: NT4, AE4 Custom
WARD ASHMAN, SOLO ARTIST: AEG
KEVIN WHALUM, “KIRK WHALUM”: AE5
MIKE RIPPOLL, “KIRK WHALUM”: AEG-3
MICHAEL STERLING: AE5 Fretless