Monday, February 28, 2011

Tal Wilkenfeld

You don't see many female bass players to begin with, but there are few, male or female, that play with as much enthusiasm, skill, and technique as Australian born Tal Wilkenfeld. She was so certain of pursuing a music career that she dropped out of school to come to America and study jazz when she was 16. I watched her become a world-wide phenom playing with Jeff Beck a few years ago at around 20 or so years of age. (I believe she's 24 now). Here she is with Beck at the Crossroads Music Festival-2007. Her solo starts less than a minute and a half in:

Here they are at The Fillmore in New York a couple of years later playing a rather unusual bass duet:


  1. I've seen her play on TV a couple times and you're right, she's fantastic.

    I wonder why in the last twenty years or so we've seen so many really young musicians that are really good? Have they always been around like this?

    I suspect they have. I knew guys in high school that could have probably been pros. And I had a friend when I was 8 years old that could listen to any song and sit down and play it on the piano flawlessly.

    Just goes to show that we all have gifts. It's the fortunate ones that realize it early and focus on them from a young age.

  2. They learn real quick today because of all the instructional videos that are available, including tons of free ones on YouTube. When I was a kid learning guitar in the 70s, all we had were a few tablature books of folk songs and books of chords like Mel Bay had out. Most things you had to learn by starting and stopping records and tapes until you figured things out by ear, and that took forever. Even if you took lessons and learned to read notation, there were hardly any books of guitar music available except for classical guitar.

    Mel Bay was great though. Toward the end of the 70s he started coming out with lots of tabs for guitar, especially fingerpicked stuff like Chet Atkins. That helped me a lot. But boy, today there are thousands to choose from, and videos are great because you can actually see how something is done in slo-mo close-up and learn it immediately. There's no real struggle to it anymore. Plus Tal went to a music school in the USA that focussed on jazz. They didn't have things like the Berkeley College of Music until the 80s. Julliard was around but they only taught classical music until the 90s. Everything is differetn today.

  3. "There's no real struggle to it anymore."

    Assuming you have any speck of musical talent to begin with. I couldn't even learn to play the front part of Stairway to Heaven when I was a kid in the '70's when even the most brain-dead stoner (I certainly qualified for that) could manage to pick that one out in the smoking lounge!

    I loved the smoking lounge. Of course, not as much as the third floor bathroom in junior high where we would get stoned with the Spanish teacher. No wonder I've lost all my short term memory.

  4. My memory's gone too most days. It was mostly speed that did it in my case though. I'm surprised my heart still has any beats left. Not that it matters. Living past 50 is probably more of a curse than a blessing anyway. Eternal REST is starting to sound awfully good.