Just hours away from a very big day for bassist Nate Jones—the first day of the new Usher tour—The Revivalist tried to sneak in a last minute pre-tour interview with the young bass virtuoso. Luckily we caught him during his only moment of calm (well, kind of), somewhere between driving, looking for the right highway exit, thinking about his to-do list before his trip, and answering on the spot interview questions intelligibly. We have to say, we’re equally impressed with his multitasking skills as we are with his music credentials.
What’s your instrument of choice? How long have you been playing for?
Now I’m telling you my age. What do I play? I play bass guitar, that’s my primary instrument. It’s been about 15 years, a little more than 15 years.
What’s the story behind why you decided on getting on the bass?
Just very simple, I was running around getting into trouble, as most of us—most of my friends were, and I took a liking to bass guitar. I started playing in church, and that’s where I developed and learned. Then I wanted to further my education and got my degree in jazz performance and music at SUNY Purchase, and then from there I just kept the dream going. I just wanted to get out on tour and play as much as possible. A lot has happened in between all of that, but that’s basically it in a nutshell. And now, I’ve been touring for about 7 years, with various artists like Mike Phillips. I shared a stage with Stevie Wonder, I was the musical directly for Lyfe Jennings, then I was on the road with Trey Songs—we just came off the Jay-Z tour—and I’m going on the Usher tour tomorrow.
I started my event Taste The Stage, about six years ago, and it’s been growing strong. My vision with that was just to kind of unite the scene, cause there’s a lot of cats that are talented but that’s not getting any exposure. I’m talking about both singers and musicians.
So my thing was, I thought it [Taste The Stage] was so unique because it’s a mixture of everything. Everything we do is totally different. I grew up on the scene, so I know the jazz scene, I know the gospel scene very well, I know the R&B scene, I know the whole laid back neo-soul scene, I know the underground hip-hop scene, I know the Top-40 scene. I’ve been in—if I’ve not been in a band—I’ve been in or around the cats at some point. My event is a mixture of everything. So in one night it goes from Charlie Parker to Pearl Jam, Sting to Aretha Franklin. Come back and you’ll hear some Donny Hathaway, then you’ll hear some gospel music, then you’ll hear some A Tribe Called Quest, and then you’ll hear some other types of tunes. It’s everything.
I’ve done so many kinds of different themed nights; I had tap dancers, we have bucket players that are part of it, I’m talking bout flute players, sax players, everything. All kind of celebrities come through because I’m in the industry. Chico DeBarge was there the other week, my home girl Yummy was there, Lyfe Jennings came through a few times. It’s just an immaculate event. My staff is just unbelievable.
Where’s the event, and how frequently does it run for?
It’s every week Wednesday. The name of the event is called Taste The Stage, it’s located at The Five Spot on Washington and Myrtle in Brooklyn, New York. It’s on the corner of Washington and Myrtle, very dope spot. Like I said, I have an amazing amazing staff.
Did I miss my turn? I missed my turn talking to you.
Yeah, I did miss my turn. It’s okay. I’ll figure it out.
The event is every week Wednesday. We usually start around 10 o’clock. We usually go between 10-2. We have a lot of different videos so you can kind of get a synopsis of what the night is. It’s a mixture of everything. And also, my website is up too. It’s natejonesonbass.com. You can check out the website. And that’s about it.
Are you a native New Yorker?
I am originally from New York. My family is originally from Birmingham, Alabama. My mom had 8 siblings. Out of 8 siblings, and my whole family, I was the only person born in New York. I’m a country boy at heart, but at the same time my heart and my grind is New York. Hustle hard!
You have the ability to play any type of genre, but mostly, you’re a perfect Revivalist artists to highlight because of your work with fusing hip-hop and jazz. Can you talk about this relationship?
It’s been going on for a long long time. What happened was, we were sampling the greats, Guru and all of the guys. The cats would sample Pete Rock, and they was sampling the jazz records and creating hip-hop—and creating—taking different loops and things of that nature from the jazz world. That goes for Dilla, the majority of cats. I remember when we did a tribute. I was apart of a tribute to Pete Rock where we took a lot of his samples, and we played the originals song and then we took the sample and then played that so people knew where it came from. That’s what happened. I’m excited that it happened. It gave us a sense of live music. It’s what we call recycling [Laughter].
I’m sorry, I’m doing so much, I’m driving, I’m talking to you, I’m doing an interview, I’m trying to watch out and make sure I don’t get a ticket [more laughter].
We at the Revivalist are really trying to show the relationship between these different forms of music. Music with out borders. A huge theme in what we do is connecting the hip-hop generation to jazz.
I would love to be apart of the theme, the team, the cats I work with, that’s the stuff that we’ve been doing for a long time. I would love to be apart of any kind of theme.
Who are the top 3 bassists who you were influenced by?
Oh man…where do I come from? Or who influenced me? That’s a tough one. I’ve got to say, that’s difficult, I can’t just give you three, but I can definitely say, Christian McBride, Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller. Then I heard of this cat, Rael Wesley Grant that’s kind of just changed my whole thing. Then we have the local greats who was on the scene when I was coming up. They was kind of all over the place. They were playing jazz but they played everything. That’s like Dave Jones, Ron Long, Trevor Allen, Tony Stevens. These are local cats. Then you got my peers that out of all of the bass players that I’m surrounded by, my peers are just amazing. If I start naming those names we’ll be here all day. I don’t want to miss anyone or leave anyone out, and while I’m driving trying to get to where I’m going [laughter].
Man, I wish you all could have come through to my event. I’ve been home for a month, and y’all never came through. The club has been packed. It’s packed right now, they just called to let me know.
When do you come back? We’re still going to try to check it out. Does the event still go on without you?
It’s going to be a while. This is a big tour. The event will still go on. Being that it’s based and built around me, it will change when I’m not there. You’re not going to get the full sense of what it is if I’m not there because I’m provide the overview. They follow me. I have a great team, but I’ve just been there a long time, you know, it’s a little bit different, but it’s still really good.
Any last words?
I’m really excited about the tour.
Interview by Boyuan Gao