STAYING POWER
Bass Player|Holiday 2021
Tal Wilkenfeld’s recent album Love Remains features a five-string in tenor tuning with a capo. Ellen O’Reilly finds out why…
Tal Wilkenfeld first caught the global bass community’s attention back in 2007, when her famous bass solo with Jeff Beck went viral. Her jazz sensibilities, combined with impeccable groove, time, and phrasing, caught the imaginations of aspiring and professional bassists worldwide. Personally, I’ll never forget the first moment I saw her play—and on meeting her, Tal is all big smiles and even bigger hair as we talk about her recent solo album, Love Remains.

“I started off as a singer,” she tells BP. “I first picked up the guitar when I was 14, and when I got a scholarship to a music school in America, I became very focused on instrumental music. I was all about getting to know the neck of my instrument and how to improvise, and being more of a skilled musician, and so I stopped singing. Then after years went by, when I was playing bass with various groups all round the world, I decided I wanted to get back into singing and songwriting again. For me, playing instrumental music was safer, in a way, because I could emotionally express whatever was going on without assigning words to it.”

She goes on to mention her love of poetry and the lyrical skills of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, which begs the question of how she finds singing while playing bass. “It’s never been a challenge for me,” she replies, “because I also play the drums, and I always did funny exercises when I was a lot younger, and put in hours of practice. I would do these independence exercises where I would be playing something repeatedly while having a conversation on top of it.”

This is a trick that Divinity Roxx also uses, to get to a place where she can sing over whatever she’s playing. “I didn’t know that that was what I was doing, but I was doing it. I thought if I could hold a conversation and keep playing, then that was forming independence. I’ve always been interested in that—singing and playing different rhythms.”

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