I’ve been fascinated by the music of J. S. Bach for many years.
After hearing John Patitucci play the Cello Suite No.1 in G on his six-string bass and listening to the Chromatic Fantasy performed by Jaco Pastorius on his “Word of Mouth” album, I was hooked and decided to play the Cello Suite No. 1 myself. I was 18 when I first played that piece.
In the meantime, I’ve already recorded the Goldberg Variation No. 19 on the Chapman Stick and a version of the French Suite No. 4 – Allemande, arranged for two basses and performed together with my friend Volker Weiss.
My latest Bach-project was the recording of the Chromatic Fantasy. My main inspiration was not the fantastic version of Jaco Pastorius. I based my performance more on the versions recorded by the pianists Glenn Gould, Rosalyn Tureck and Evgeni Koroliov. Jaco Pastorius recorded the first 20 bars of the piece. My version goes to bar 39, including the fast run at bars 21 to 26 and the beautiful arpeggios starting at bar 27.
I played this piece live at the 4th Lefty Bass Day in Duisburg in 2012, but then I didn’t touch it again for several years because I wasn’t quite happy with my 5-string arrangement.
A few months ago, I started practicing it again on my new Marleaux 6-string bass with high tuning, and I developed a new arrangement just for this bass.
The special tuning, E A D G C F, fits this tune – written for piano – perfectly and allows me to play it in the original key. I had to change the fingerings and techniques I use in different parts more than once to get the results I desired. But it was really worth it. I even tried a technique that was new for me: raking up from lower to higher strings with my thumb to be able to play the arpeggios legato and fluently over 6 strings (see video at 2:10).
I’m excited about the outcome and looking forward to playing it live at my shows.
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As always: Thanks to Herbert Kalab for shooting this video!