LITTLE FALLS, NJ -- TAPintoTV’s Brian Brodeur spoke with Grammy award-winning electric bassist Mark Egan about his latest recording, “Electric Blue,” a duo project with drummer Danny Gottlieb. The release highlights the five decades-long collaboration between these two highly-accomplished musicians.
Mark Egan is widely known as one of the leading players of fretless electric bass in the world, and has recorded and performed with artists ranging from the Pat Metheny Group, Sting, Gil Evans, John McLaughlin, Cyndi Lauper, Stan Getz, Duran Duran and Joan Osborne.
“It’s a very special project because Danny and I have played together for nearly fifty years," Egan said. "We’ve done duo concerts, but this is the first time the whole record is a duo record."
Egan described how he and Gottlieb approached filling the musical space on the recording with only bass and drums as instrumentation. "On one hand you have Danny...the way he plays cymbals and drums--he orchestrates whatever he plays," Egan told Brodeur. "He’s a very complimentary type player as well as very aggressive and can really lay down the groove."
Egan told Brodeur about how most people typically hear bass players playing one note at a time, but technology has expanded the sonic range of the bass guitar. "There’s a whole world of music within the instrument itself," said Egan, "I’m playing more like an expanded version of bass, into guitar areas of sound and even into piano."
Both Egan and Gottlieb were influenced by a variety of music from the 60s and 70s, as well as jazz from the 40s and 50s. Notably, both Egan and Gottlieb were members of the renowned Pat Metheny Group and played in the Gil Evans Monday Night Orchestra, which performed weekly at New York City's Sweet Basil in Greenwich Village.
"All of those influences and sensibilities come into our performance when we play," said Egan. "We play for the moment--and we’re listening, we have huge ears--we're listening to everything and complimenting and trying to come up with a balance."
Half of the tracks on Electric Blue were improvised in the studio and half were pre-written musical pieces. "When we wanted to do this duo record, we wanted to come up with a format, thinking of a balance of what songs do we want to have, what kind of feelings do we want to have," Egan explained. "We did some basic sketching in that way."
Egan and Gottlieb recorded "Electric Blue" with engineers Richard Brownstein and Phil Magnotti for four days at Electric Fields Studio in New Canaan, CT. "It was such as creative experience," Egan said, "being in the studio like that and being able to play all day for four days."
Egan will be releasing more tracks from his duo sessions on a future release. "Electric Blue" is available on CD, vinyl and digital download at all major online outlets including iTunes and Amazon.