!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd"> Dave Dyson

Dave Dyson
By Terrence Richburg and Andrea R. Williams @ 2010

It's somewhat difficult to fully describe the incredible gift of Jazz Bassist, songwriter, arranger, and producer, Dave Dyson. He has exploded onto the Jazz stage reaping the devoted attention of so many captivated audiences all over the world. The rich flavors and stylistic heights to which Dave takes his music set him far above the rest. He obviously excels in the arena of Jazz funk, fusion and R&B with absolute creative freedom. His sound whether you're referring to his slap, finger funk, or mute picking technique raises an extremely high bar for any other player to reach or emulate.

However, probably the most remarkable aspects of Dave Dyson's musical offering are his signature groove bass touch, and the melodic vision and harmonic revelation of his songwriting. But even beyond that Dave's performances [live or recorded] exists on a spiritual level that inspires the enlightenment of his listeners and contemporaries alike.

Dyson's artistry is profoundly triumphant in using the unique power of his own humility to blaze an explosive trail of musical excitement. Dave is true to who he is as a musician and presents his gift with virtuosic precision, yet with a sense of natural authenticity--drawing in his audience as he draws innovation from his relationship with God.

Dave is an extremely experienced and sought after bassist having performed and recorded with many national and international stars including, Walter Beasley, New Kids On The Block, Chico Freeman & Brainstorm, Micheal Franks, Greg Osby, Terumasa Hino, Gary Thomas, Kevin Toney, Takeshi Ito, Jack Lee, Bob James, Steve Coleman & the 5 Elements, Hagans/Belden Band, Me'shell N'degeocello, Jonathan Butler, Pieces Of A Dream, Peter White, Lalah Hathaway, and many others.

Dyson's discography is quite extensive, having recorded with so many artists they're too numerous to name. However, as for his personal releases they include, Soulmates (1999/2000), The Dawning (2004), and his latest CD, Unleashed (2008).

JGC recently caught up with Dave in between gigs for quick interview...


TDR/JGC: You have worked with some incredible artists and projects. When did you start playing the bass and what made you gravitate towards it?

DD: I listened to everything. When I was young, I would be in the basement with the speakers as my headphones and laid there listening to my favorite music. It's crazy when I think about it. I was an avid listener before I even played bass. My parents brought me a little Toys R Us, Mickey Mouse drum set and guitars. When I got older, I became a big Larry Graham fan and a Bootsy [Collins] fan. When I got my first album from Louis Johnson, the first album of the Brothers Johnson, once I heard that - for me - that was it. I stared at the album cover, "Look Out For Number One" and analyzed everything on that project.

JGC: How would you describe your style of playing?

DD: I listen to everybody. I appreciate "melodism," but groove is the first thing. I want it to feel good. Even when I played with Steve Coleman, I liked his intricate music. I looked at it as P-Funk with intricacy because I wanted it to feel good. Even with a lot of notes or an odd time signature, I still was looking for the groove. I would ask him, "What time signature is this in?" He said, "Don't think about it that way." He taught me different ways to think about the music.

JGC: Besides Larry and Louis, what other bass players do you listen to?

DD: I listen to everybody, Terrence Richburg...{laughs}...everybody. Seriously I listen to everybody who picks up an instrument; I can learn something from everyone. Even if it's a beginner, there may be one thing that they play, and I'll think, "Hold up; I like that". I listen to Jaco [Pastorius] and Stanley [Clarke] and all the others. After Louis, Bootsy and Larry, for me, Stanley Clarke takes it to a whole different level. Richard Boner and Victor Wooten, all of these cats have a lot; I like the groove cats. Also, there was Fred Brown, (I think that's his name) that played with James Brown; he was another cat that played with Sly Stone that came after Larry Graham. To me, he had a whole different thing from Larry. I would say my music is groove-oriented. No matter what I play, I want it to groove. Whether it's a solo...no matter what genre, every genre has a groove. Whether it's soul, Latin, Gospel, funk or reggae, they all have a groove. I just tap into that.

JGC: How did you get your start professionally in the music industry and who are you working with these days?

DD: My first music experiences came when I was 14 while I was going to a studio in Clinton, MD. I was there all weekend long and getting paid $25, but I was recording with a lot of different artists. I would love to hear some of that music now. I remember playing for Gospel artists who had come down from New Jersey. I wasn't making much, but I was learning the ropes. The pianist would play it once or twice and I would have to have it down to record. That's when I started learning forms and keeping those in my head. I recorded so many albums. One album was Hugo Hancock and The Jacksons, of course, not THE JACKSONS, but those were the only groups that I remember. Some of the artists that I am working with now are Lalah [Hathaway], Rashaan Patterson, Rick Braun, Peter White, Pieces of a Dream, locally Marcus Johnson and Spur of the Moment, recorded with Najee. I have been working on Kendall King's latest one and some others. I am just thankful to be working. I also just recorded my album.

JGC: What role do you think Christianity has played for you?

DD: Definitely, a big role. I was saved when I was in 11th grade at the age of 16. That's when I was playing Stanley Clarke in church. My mother would say, "You shouldn't be playing that in church". But the pastor said, "Let the boy play"...{laughs}. Christianity and the Gospel of Jesus Christ have a lot to do with everything. It's got me through EVERYTHING. I went through a lot in college and then I got the New Kids gig. Now I have my lovely wife. God is everything. God saved me through a lot that I could have gotten into. God spared me from a lot of things. I'm not perfect, but I have tried to be as close as I can. There was a time when I didn't like the way I was. When I was going through with my first marriage, I stayed away from church. But I realized that church is a hospital. If you're having trouble, that's where you need to be. I have been blessed to play with a lot of people in the Gospel industry too.

JGC: What is Gospel Jazz and what does it mean to you?

DD: To me, I don't like a lot of labels. I know that we are forced to use them. I am offended by the way that the industry uses labels. I think they use them just to segregate us. For instance, I remember the first time I went into a record store. They had Southern Gospel {in one area} and then Christian {in another}. So does that mean that Gospel is not Christian? Or because they're singing Christian music they aren't singing Gospel? Maybe I'm taking it personally. But I think it's used to segregate people, but music too. But to get back to your question, as long as the message is there, that's what's important to me. It's about the spirit behind it. My mother is a minister and it took her a while to get past saying, "I just want you playing Gospel music". I was like, "Mom, you don't understand. It's all about the spirit behind it." Although she's taught me a lot, that's one thing that I taught her. It's the spirit behind it.

JGC: What would you say has been the most defining moment for you as a musician and an artist?

DD: One I would have to say is creating my own music. I have completed three CDs which has been very rewarding. I love producing and writing. It's rewarding to finish a project that you're proud of, a project that you don't have any outside influences saying you should do this or you should do that; it's all you. Finishing each of those projects was a different level for me. One of my greatest moments was after I finished my first project. One of my mentors, Marcus Miller, came up to me and said, "Awesome record". I was like, "Say that again?" He hugged me and said, "Awesome record". That was my first record. That meant so much to me - that someone I looked up to would be touched so much. I admire him as a person and a musician. It was so encouraging. He's an awesome musician who plays a zillion instruments and is an awesome producer. I aspire to be like that. Well, Pieces of a Dream, we were recently nominated for a Canadian Smooth Jazz Award and I am excited about that. Also, on a Tim Regan record, we were nominated for a GRAMMY Award twice.

JGC: What is your latest release and what should we expect in the future?

DD: It's called Unleashed. I was going to name it New Horizons. But I followed the Spirit and started writing a whole new record, after I was just about finished with the first record. I started writing new tunes. I had also done a photo shoot and had to do a whole new photo shoot. Everything was brand new. I call it Spiritual Groove Music; that's what I call it. That's another genre we can make up. Anything I do is going to be spiritually based and groove oriented. Even when I solo, I love to lay in the groove. I will probably have another project coming out in 2011. This one came out in November 2008.

JGC: Are there any events or collaborations you're doing now?

DD: I am really working on my film scoring. That's always been a passion of mine. I have a great mentor in Los Angeles who does work for commercials and movies, for Nissan and Watchmen. I am really excited to reconnect with Paula; we went to college together. I am also blessed to have a signature bass with a company called Skjold who were at NAMM. I am not just excited about it because it's my signature bass, but I can honestly say that it's my favorite bass. God worked it out that way after being with another company for over 16 years. Where I am, it's a Christian-based company. Also, I performed at the Bass Bash at NAMM.

JGC: Anything you would like to say to up and coming performers?

DD: Like my father said, make sure that it's your passion. Musically, try to learn as many genres as you can. Learn them authentically. Find out the angle to it, whether it's old or new, to that genre--no matter whether is Latin, Reggae or South African music. I learned that working with Jonathan Butler. When I went to South Africa, I picked up the music from there and listened to those cats live. I incorporate myself into that. Like Richard Boner, he has his Cameroonian vibe, but he has others too and he combines it and it's killin'. You can fuse things and make it your own. When I recorded on Jonathan Butler's Jonathan album, when I listen to the old stuff, it reminded me of this technique called "mute picking" that I tried out on the cut, "Mandela Bay". I really liked the way that it turned out. I would say to learn as many genres as you can and learn them well. People will say, "You sound like you did your homework." And just don't learn the cliche' things. I would also encourage them to find their own voice. That's really important. That's how you will keep working.