|Mark Egan redefines the electric bass as a solo instrument. From its early inception as the backbone of rock and rhythm & blues combos to its present day identification with intrusive, earth–pounding, acid–reflux generating boom boxes and speakers that can be heard for miles, the most refined auditory
palates could not distinguish one bass player from another. There is, however, a revolutionary bassist who is in great demand as a solo artist. His unique bass sound and style is distinctive and can be heard on recordings with such diverse stars as Pat Metheny, Sting, The Gil Evans' Orchestra, Arcadia, Stan Getz, Roger Daltry, and Joan Osborne. The essence of his individualism is prominent on such movies and television sound tracks as ALADDIN, THE COLOR OF MONEY, A CHORUS LINE, NBC SPORTS, ABC's ALL MY CHILDREN, CNN/HEADLINE NEWS, and a myriad of award winning television
That bass player is Mark Egan.
Born in Brockton, Massachusetts, Mark began his musical studies on the trumpet at the age of 10, mainly through the influence of his father who was an avid player. He continued to play the trumpet through high school in jazz bands, R&B groups and the high school orchestra. Mark started playing the bass at 16. He enrolled in the University of Miami School of Music under the direction of Jerry Coker and studied privately with the late Jaco Pastorius. "When I heard Jaco play it made me aware of what could be done on the electric bass, particularly with regard to grooving and soloing. Jaco just made me aware of another way of thinking about the bass and music."
While in Florida, Mark formed a band with fellow University of Miami students Clifford Carter (keyboards), Hiram Bullock (guitar), Billy Bowker (drums) and Phyllis Hyman (vocals). They came to New York in 1976 and soon thereafter, Mark performed with the Pointer Sisters, Deodato, and David Sanborn. Mark's notoriety grew and he quickly caught the eye of University of Miami school mate, Pat Methany. He joined Methany's group in 1977. It was through this association that Mark would team up with drummer Danny Gottlieb and go on to form the group, ELEMENTS. To this day, ELEMENTS is one of the most highly acclaimed experimental contemporary jazz groups internationally.€
ELEMENTS has recorded over Twelve albums and has toured in nearly thirty countries. Their uncompromising live sound continues to be on the forefront of the jazz music scene.
As a leader, Mark's debut release, MOSAIC (Windham Hill Records), delved into adventurous territory on his custom –made eight and ten string basses painting beautiful soundscapes over multi–layered musical textures. His follow up release, TOUCH OF LIGHT (GRP Records), displayed another facet of Mark's creativity. TOUCH OF LIGHT featuring Danny Gottlieb, Clifford Carter and Bill Evans (reeds) proved to be more upbeat and aggressive further exploring the sounds of his arsenal of basses (30 at last count). In 1993 mark signed with Bluemoon Records and released the highly acclaimed album, BEYOND WORDS which again featured Gottlieb, Carter, and Evans. It also introduced to the American music scene famed Brazilian guitarist, Toninho Horta, whose bossa nova style and melodic compositions would take Mark's music in a new direction.
Nearly ten years have passed. Mark's recordings were a harbinger of exciting things to come, namely his latest release, FREEDOM TOWN, on his own label, Wavetone. With this contemporary jazz release, technique aside, Mark has established an identity which is truly unique: a sound, style and rhythmic approach to the electric bass that is, indeed, Mark Egan. Having emanated from a lineage established by Jaco Pastorius, Mark's signature melodic, hypnotic timbre has earned him an individuality among jazz cognoscenti in a way that Pat Metheny, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, James Jamerson, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans and Wes Montgomery, for example, have created an immediately identifiable persona on their respective instruments and in their stylized music making. From the World Contemporary Jazz opening track, "Freedom Town," to the smooth lilting groove of "Habanero Nights," we are treated to the eloquent Egan sound and silky groove. The bassist/composer has enlisted sidemen who know his style intimately. They are his perfect compliment. Again, Danny Gottlieb–drums, Bill Evans– saxes with Cliffords Carter & John Werking– keyboards, Lew Soloff–trumpet, Jeff Ciampa–guitar, and David Charles–percussion.
On "Valley Girl", Mark, Danny and Cliffford set up saxophonist Bill Evans with a relaxed contemporary funk groove. The quintessential duo with long time associate Danny Gottlieb on "Kauai" captures the essence of that island's mystical, almost surreal beauty. The blues–tinged, unison melody of "Jack Hall," showcases Mark's meticulous melodic playing with a sultry back beat provided again by worthy cohorts Gottlieb, Carter, and Evans. In a rare performance on the acoustic bass, Mark's imagery on his composition, "The Flame," is dynamic and gives the listener nearly nine minutes of cerebral pleasure. Such performances remind one of another bassist, Dave Holland and his piece, "Conference of the Birds." The therapeutic implications of keeping FREEDOM TOWN on hand will serve to ease the tension of frenetic schedules. Master technician, Richard Brownstein, on this track, has captured the purity of solo artistry. In fact, the entire 64 minute release highlights the bassist's composing prowess. All twelve compositions are Egan originals.
With a full touring schedule that includes concerts with Lew Soloff's band and Gil Evans' Orchestra, regular performances worldwide, innumerable studio dates recording record projects, movie sound tracks and conducting clinics, it is a wonder how the ever personable, accessible Mark Egan could pull off such a recording coupe as FREEDOM TOWN. He has!
Wavetone records is a spinoff of Mark Egan's passion and visionary approach to contemporary jazz music. To date Wavetone has released FAR EAST (Volumes I and II) and UNTOLD STORIES, all by Elements; Egan's MOSAIC; guitarist Joe Beck's FINGER PAINTING, and Jeff Ciampa's SIGNS OF LIFE. In addition, Mark has realized his dream with the completion of his own state–of–the–art recording studios, Electric Fields, designed by highly acclaimed acoustical architect, John Storyk. Electric Fields is equipped with a state of the art digital recording system and an array of vintage sound processing gear.
Grammy Award winning bassist, songwriter, recording producer, and jazz veteran Mark Egan has raised the bar for his generation of jazz artists with the release of Wavetone's eighth recording, "Freedom Town".
Egan has produced, written and played his various electric basses on "Freedom Town", reflecting the evolution and revolution of his thirty–year career.
Recorded in a three–day session in July 2001 at Egan's own Warwick, NY, Electric Fields Studio, "Freedom Town" spotlights the ongoing lyricism of saxophonist Bill Evans, keyboardist Clifford Carter, acoustic guitarist Jeff Ciampa, David Charles as percussionist, with Jon Werking doing keyboard pads, and Lew Soloff on trumpet. Drummer Danny Gottleib again joins Egan.
Egan has been long–recognized for his bass skills and his custom variations on the design of the instrument. On "Freedom Town", Egan went with his doubleneck Pedulla bass, the Pedulla five–string fretless bass, and his renowned eight–and–ten doubleheaded bass. When nobody was looking, he threw in some riffs at the keyboard, keyboard pads, and dealt out percussion programming. Plus, composing, directing and producing the two dozen pieces on the disc.
The cover song, "Freedom Town" sets the dial for the album. Percussionist Dave Charles sets the rhythm and tone, picked up by Lew Soloffs' muted trumpet. Enter Bill Evans on sax, followed by Egan's fretless, slithering bass and Gottleib's softly relentless beat. All combine to create an unforgettable blend of first–rate jazz.
The dozen cuts run the gamut as group–size moves from a duo to a sextet. Evans and Carter play on nine of the numbers, with Egan and Gotlieb playing the full set. The other artists contribute as Egan's production and composition require.
"This solo project has been in the making for a long time and Bill Evans, my great friend, recently motivated me to get in gear and finally complete it, Egan said.
He graduated from Univrsity of Miami's School of Music in the mid–1970s, after studying under the direction of Jerry Coker. Privately mentored by the late Jaco Pastorius, Egan attributes Pastorius' tutelage with his ability to establish the point of view and performance style he has today.
"When I heard Jaco play, it made me aware of what could be done on the electric bass, particularly in regard to grooving, soloing and composing Jaco gave me another way of thinking about the bass and music.
After Miami, Mark and a band of musicians, including Clifford Carter, went to New York. It took only one year to catch on with the rising star, another UM musician, Pat Metheny. He toured and recorded with the Pat Metheny Group for several years. Then he and Metheny Group drummer Danny Gottleib decided to move on to form the experimental jazz group Elements. In the past fifteen years Elements has recorded a dozen albums, traveled to nearly 30 countries, setting a global pace for jazz innovation his fans still expect and demand.
In his first solo album, "Mosaic" made in 1985 for Windham Hill, Egan explored a new frontier with his custom–designed eight–and ten–string basses. (He has more than 30 basses in his studio.) In 1988 he brought together Gottlieb, Carter, and Bill Evans for "Touch of Light" for GRP.
Egan's unique musical style had taken his sound to Hollywood for myriad film soundtracks, ranging from "Alladin" to "You've Got Mail", and "Pumping Iron Two". His work in television has moved from "Saturday Night Live" to "Edge of Night", and includes music for CNN News and "Good Morning America". The Egan Sound has been part of the music tracks for most of the major advertisers, many of which have won numerous awards.
As a studio and stage musician, Egan has appeared with many of the great names in contemporary music: Sting, Gil Evans, Bill Evans, David Sanborn, Airto Moreira, Alex DiGrassi, Marianne Faithful, Joan Armatrading, Dave Matthews, Roger Daltry, Johnny Winter, Bernadette Peters, Judy Collins, Roberta Flack, and Art Garfunkel. His credits ink–up three and one–half pages, single–spaced.
He has won Grammy Awards with Sting, "A Love Affair" and with the Gil Evans Orchestra for "Best Jazz Album", plus two nominations for work he did with Metheny and Joan Osborne. Egan's played on five Platinum Records, and two Gold Records.
"Freedom Town" is the eighth recording with Egan's label, Wavetone. He works in Orange County, NY, out of his state–of–art wood–encased Electric Fields Studio, designed by legendary acoustical architect John Storyk and built by master carpenter Ikuo Matsui. Acoustic treatment and electronic architecture were designed by Richard Brownstein and Dan Zelman. Numerous musicians and commercial clients have already utilized the unique environment of Electric Fields Studio.
Further information can be supplied on–line through www.markegan.com and orders can be placed at www.wavetone.com. Direct mail may be sent to Wavetone Records, P.O. Box 568, Warwick, NY 10990