#1
After a few hiccups, I am finally getting this going in here.

This thread is dedicated to Carles Benavent, the premier flamenco bassist.

In 1981, he laid some bass tracks on a flamenco album by the legendary gypsy flamenco cantaor, Camaron de la Isla. The album, "Como El Agua" was the followup to the infamous "La Leyenda Del Tiempo", in which Camaron introduced rock elements into flamenco (it was praised and slammed at the same time). "Como El Agua" was a modest beginning for Carles' bass work (it incorporated more jazz elements), but the subsequent albums, "Calle Real", "Vivire", and "Soy Gitano", really brought Carles into the forefront and groove of hardcore flamenco. His technique employed a fretless Gibson EB-2 bass, played with a very heavy pick. Soon, he was playing with the Paco De Lucia sextet, and a masterpiece of flamenco (and flamenco bass) was created--"Solo Quiero Caminar". The two live albums, "Live... One Summer Night" and "Live in America" are mesmerizing in their complexity--and Carles is there, underpinning the flamenco guitar of Paco with bass runs, chords, and harmonic slides. He wasn't the first to play bass on a flamenco album, but Carles defined the sound of flamenco bass once and for all.

Along the way, he worked with flamenco sax/flute player Jorge Pardo and produced two landmark jazzmenco albums, "Las Cigarras son quiza sordas" and "Veloz". The bass playing is ferocious and fluid--think of a flamenco Jaco Pastorius!

In 1995, Carles was in a car accident which damaged his left arm. People wondered if he would ever play bass again. With proper recuperation, he rose like a phoenix out of the ashes and reinvented his playing technique using a fretted 5 string bass. His bass work was better than ever. In 1999, he joined up with Jorge Pardo and Tino De Geraldo (drum kit) to form a trio. Their live album "El Concierto de Sevilla" is a study in flamenco on unconventional instruments, and stands as a testament to Carles' abilities to hold down the groove and play the heck out of his bass! At this point in his career, he plays a fretted semihollow Fransesc Jordan signature bass--tuned EADGC.

A DVD has recently been made of the trio's live performance--it is called "Flamenco Artists of the 21st Century". I guarantee your jaw will drop at viewing his inimitable bass technique! And yes, Carles uses a new "Barcelona" semihollowbody bass--a signature model made just for him by Jerzy Drozd, for his peculiar technique. He again tunes his bass EADGC.

And yes, he does use other fingers to pluck chords while using a pick with his thumb and first finger. He also plays mandola (a bigger cousin to the mandolin) proficiently--listen to "Zyryab" on the 2nd live Paco De Lucia album--he's no slouch on the mandola!

Recently, he released a solo album called "Aigua" and has been featured on Chick Corea's new album "The Ultimate Adventure".

I hope someday you will check out the live Paco de Lucia or Jorge Pardo CDs or the new Chick Corea CD and hear what Carles does on there. His solo albums are also amazing works of flamenco infused jazz. He carries the torch of Jaco, but is truly an original in a niche all his own.

To avoid having this thread disappear, I will post a vid of Carles playing in the next post...
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#2
Let this end any and all threads of how playing bass with a pick is not as good as fingerpicking...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMqJZ_f6Viw

He plays a Jerzy Drozd "Barcelona" bass here , in case you are wondering.

Keep in mind, he's just jamming--imagine what he's like when he plays the "hard stuff" of flamenco...

Enjoy! I'll post more if I can find them...
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#3
dude, jaco, take it easy with this benevant guy, you've posted the same thread now like 4 times. if people want to hear about him, they will look him up. and honestly, the whole flemenco thing isnt really that impressive to me. sure he plays chords while playing a chopped up bassline, but its just too sweeping and guitar-like. and the whole pick thing, we've had that argument on this forum like every other day, noone's bashing picks.
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#5
I used to tell people who hated pick bassists to look at Justin Chancellor.

I'll be using Carles from now on. Does anyone know how to pronounce his name?
#7
Not many videos out there.

And CPM, unneccesary...
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Quote by crazypeanutman

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#8
I for one love hearing more about this guy. He's really made me rethink alot of my playing.
#9
Quote by crazypeanutman
dude, jaco, take it easy with this benevant guy, you've posted the same thread now like 4 times. if people want to hear about him, they will look him up. and honestly, the whole flemenco thing isnt really that impressive to me. sure he plays chords while playing a chopped up bassline, but its just too sweeping and guitar-like. and the whole pick thing, we've had that argument on this forum like every other day, noone's bashing picks.


Sorry for all the posts. Flamenco doesn't hit everyone the same way--I understand that. No worries. As far as "chopped up basslines", well, all I can say is you haven't heard his earlier material when he played a fretless. His style now is very different from what he used to play. He had to reinvent his playing technique, because of the arm injury and because fretless "is so hard to play with precision" (I met Carles backstage once and asked him why he doesn't play fretless anymore). He still does play fretless for sessions, but his main instrument is a fretted Jerzy Drozd "Barcelona" bass.

Anyways, I'm glad that some people responded back to this thread. Carles is not the fastest player in the world, nor is he a Victor Wooten or a Michael Manring, but what he does what he does really well in the scheme of flamenco.

Flamenco in general has been (in the past) very conservative about changes. Carles, when he first appeared onstage with Paco de Lucia, was harassed verbally. "Tell that guy with the funny looking guitar to get off the stage!" is what they would shout. But after they heard him play, they stopped the heckling and heard how flamenco was transformed before their very ears to a new level. There are many puritans still out there who think that flamenco should be a dancer, a guitarist, a singer, and palmistas (hand claps), but the fact of the matter is--even guitar was a late-comer into flamenco. Now, people are using dhumbeks (goblet drums), cajones (box drums), canes, drum kits, bass guitars, mandolins, pianos, cellos, violins, and ouds to play flamenco. It's a huge revolution.

My friend David Easley used to be a hardcore jazz guitarist. He had every lick down. Then he heard flamenco, and he realized that not only does flamenco have more opportunities for syncopated and polyrhythmic playing, but also that women (beautiful women) will dance to it right in front of you. Jazz has its standard 4/4 and 6/8 rhythms, along with a few Dave Brubeck types of rhythm, but those get heady and most people get lost in the confusion. Flamenco has been around for years, and even though some of the rhythms are in 12-count, knowledged people can still sing and dance to it. And the interaction between the dancer, guitarist, rhythm section and the singer are totally organic--the dancer sets the tempo, and the rest have to follow suit. It's one of the few musical forms where this is so--usually the dancer is slave to the rhythm. It's a group effort, and when it is done correctly, it is the best thing on the planet to see and hear.

There are other folk forms, like the Balkan musics, or the Greek musics that have odd-times, but these usually do not have sections that just stop on a dime and then continue on. You have to understand--I grew up playing classical rock, prog rock, Primus, and Mr Bungle on the drums. Flamenco is the closest thing to this in the folk world, and you can sing and dance to it. Women love it. I think it has its merits far beyond a lot of other music styles. Plus, you can play cover tunes in the style of flamenco very nicely, if you weave them into the rhythms of tangos (slow 4/4 with abrupt syncopated stops), rumba (fast 4/4), tanguillos (3/4 with emphasis on the 3), fandangos (3/4 with emphasis on the 1 and 2), soleares (slow 12 count), or the bulerias (fast 12 count).

My group is thing of doing some Radiohead covers in the tangos form at our next show, just for fun. I'm not totally pure flamenco--I have roots in rock, funk, and jazz.
Flamenco is just fun for me. It took me a long time to "get it" but now that I do, it's just another tool in my toolbox.
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#10
/\im sorry if that came across as disrespectful, i didnt mean it. he's an amazing bassist for sure, my only point was that ive said so in your 3 other posts
Quote by Mr. T
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#11
I found this footage of Carles playing his natural finish fretless Gibson EB-2 in the Paco de Lucia sextet. This is mid 1990s, so forgive the hairstyles.

This is "Solo Quiero Caminar", a tango. Paco makes it all sound effortless. Carles is not very audible, but you hear him on occasion doing some bass flourishes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PonAE5ICjuE
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#12
Quote by jaco de lucia
With proper recuperation, he rose like a phoenix out of the ashes and reinvented his playing technique using a fretted 5 string bass.

You're chinese right?


anyways, i have to agree with you, benavent is an amazing bassist. love the flamenco bass technique - first time i've actually seen and heard one play . do you know any sources (internet) where i can learn more about the basics to flamenco bass ?
haha...
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#13
Platypus,

I'm Japanese, not Chinese.

I have not found any resources on how to learn flamenco bass online. The only thing I have found helpful is listening to the various flamenco CDs (eithter with or without bass) and trying to play along to them. I listen to them constantly in my carm absorbing the various forms so that I know them like the back of my hand. I have yet to master any of these forms--I'm a long way from doing that--but at least I can come up with ideas for what to play, play in the pocket, and not sound like an amateur.

I have heard Carles gives master bass classes in Barcelona, but that's in Barcelona...
He usually prefaces it by the fact that his playing is very unorthodox--that his form may not suit all forms of music.

I have found it helpful to play against a drum machine programmed for the flamenco compas (bulerias, solea, tangos, tanguillos, siguiriyas, etc.), just to keep the rhythm in the head. It's easy to get lost in the count, but if you know the secrets of what to listen for, you can start to decipher what the heck Carles is doing.

Once you get to the point where you can feel where the accents are in the compas, you are halfway there. But the climb from there is all uphill and really really difficult, especially if you are trying to accompany Paco. You may find it easier to follow along to Gipsy Kings first, with the simple rumba flamenca stuff--then move on to someone like Jesse Cook before tackling Paco de Lucia, Tomatito, Pepe Habichuela, Geraldo Nunez, or the likes of the "flamenco joven" which bring in modern elements like jazz, modern rock, R & B and funk into flamenco.
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#14
As it turns out, Carles Benavent was not the first flamenco bassist:

Raimundo Amador, according to everyone, was the first flamenco musician who was bold enough to play the electric bass, and he says about this ?From the world of flamenco I am the first electric bass player that has come up, but Benavent is the best bass player not only from here, but of the whole world? *

*(from the book "Raimundo Amador y Pata Negra, Rock Gitano", written by Luis Clemente).

Raimundo Amador played bass on Camaron's "La Leyenda del Tiempo" (1979)--it was a standard fretted Fender Jazz-like bass sound (neck pickup), very similar to the rock groups of that era. This album was the "Sgt Pepper" of flamenco--introducing drum kit, bass, sitar, and keyboards to the isolated musical world fo flamenco. Purists hated it--but the next generation of flamenco aficionados and artists knew that it was time for change. Already, Paco De Lucia was learning to play jazz with Chick Corea, so the tides for flamenco were turning.

These days, flamenco has elements from around the world--salsa, samba, middle eastern rhythms, East Indian rhythms and instrumentation--there is no stone unturned these days for flamenco. Even rap, hip-hop and punk attitudes have infiltrated flamenco, for what it's worth.

Carles is still doing flamenco bass, but he's also playing with the likes of Chick Corea and touring. Paco De Lucia is playing with a different bassist these days--perhaps because Carles' style has progressed away from fretless--but his bass playing is still world class. Carles' new solo album "Aigua" veers away from the super fast bass lines of old and focuses on soundscapes of music. It's not my favorite from him, but it is growing on me.

The post-Paco output of Carles and the rest of the Paco De Lucia sextet seems to venture into polyrhythmic ideas--playing 3 against 2 and so on--blurring the lines between traditional flamenco and world music.

In my neck of the woods (Santa Clara, CA) flamenco has taken one of three paths:

1. The purists perform what was standardized in the "Golden Age of Flamenco" back in the 1930s-1950s. They frown on any innovations and "outside influences" like electric bass and even cajon.

2. The newly initiated jump on the "Nouveau Flamenco" bandwagon, playing the likes of Ottmar Liebert and Gipsy Kings. Liebert is not real flamenco--it is sort of a new-age watered down version of flamenco. Liebert was a student of Carlos Lomas in Santa Fe, who gave Liebert one flamenco guitar lesson--Liebert went on to record some demos which sold in the millions, making him an international success; Lomas is still living a life of a starving musician (even though he is an incredible flamenco guitarist). I gotta admit that I was part of this group initially (you have to start somewhere) but I quickly started looking elsewhere for inspiration, as I got bored playing rumba flamencafor every piece.

3. The middle-eastern flamenco fusion group. Flamenco guitarists either want to play only flamenco or want to venture out and fuse flamenco with other genres. The latter tend to form these types of groups. I belong to one right now--we do flamenco, but we also do Moroccan music, Turkish music, and some elements of jazz and rock. Currently, we have belly dancers join us for gigs, as well as flamenco dancers--it's pretty cool!

Anyways, there aren't a lot of places to experience real flamenco these days unless you go to Spain, let alone experience flamenco bass. It's a small niche, but I'm glad to be a part of it. You gotta make your mark in this world somehow, right?
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#15
you still havent told me how that new chick corea album was
Quote by Mr. T
"Mr. T defines love as the reluctance to murder. If you're still alive, it's because Mr. T loves you."
#16
Chick Corea's new album "The Ultimate Adventure" is an incredible integration of flamenco and modern jazz. It's kind of like taking Paco de Lucia's sextet, removing Paco and the palmistas and replacing them with Chick and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. It's pretty amazing--the first track is a bulerias, but sounds very little like flamenco even though it is in 12 count. It's a nice jazz set, but with the nuances of flamenco embellishments and rhythms.

Carles plays his Jerzy Drozd "Barcelona" bass on it, and it sounds pretty good. He is joined by Jorge Pardo on sax and flute and Rubem Dantas on percussion. Chick's keyboard work is impeccable, as is everyone else's respective instruments. This stuff is way beyond my scope of understanding, as I am not a real jazz musician, I do improvise, but walking basslines are still something that I need to work on, especially with very complex chord structures, like those of flamenco and bop styles.

To those just listening in on the pieces, the bass does not sound like a standard bass--it may sound like an electric baritone guitar at times, because the bass has a high C which Carles employs on a regular basis. Plus, the way he plays bass, using partial chords and playing with a strumming pick style--makes the bass sound very much like a guitar. That's his style--he's never been one to play a guitar, but the way he plays bass on this album makes you think of what Pat Metheny or John McLaughlin would sound like on bass. Not a lot of flash, but he excels as an accompanist here, playing lines that most bassists would tend to overlook.

Carles has never been one for playing standard grooves--for a typical rumba setting, most players would play the root, fifth and octave to keep the groove going. Carles colors in between the lines, playing intricate flourishes but implying the accents without actually playing them. Not many bassists can do that. It's a trick used in flamenco a lot, since the compas (accents and count) are not completely rigid in accenting (they are rigid in count though); you can break away and do a run with a totally different feel for a few bars, then come right back into the original feel, as long as the count is maintained. This is what makes flamenco sound so organic and free--there are a lot of rules in the game of flamenco, but within the rules, you can break loose and mess around a bit.

Anyways--"The Ultimate Adventure" is a great CD. I don't agree with the whole L Ron Hubbard/scientology connection, but the music is great.
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#17
/\ cool, im gonna have to check it out then, thanks
Quote by Mr. T
"Mr. T defines love as the reluctance to murder. If you're still alive, it's because Mr. T loves you."
#18
Hi folks,

Just wanted to let you know that Carles is featured in the latest Bassics magazine. They call him "El Maestro". The accompanying CD that you get with the mag has two cuts from Chick Corea's The Ultimate Adventure CD, on which Carles plays bass.

http://www.fingerstyleguitar.com/html/bsc_ci.htm

It gives some insight on how he approaches his playing. He uses a pick, but he also uses his middle finger to flick out rasgueados and trills:

pick downstroke, pick upstroke, middle finger flick

This is done as a fast triplet to get the trill effect.

I do this on my flamenco guitar, but with my thumbnail instead of a pick. It is pretty effective on flamenco guitar to throw in some fast accented rolls, and on bass it sounds like a machine gun--but you have to use a lot of compression to make the notes sound consistent with the rest of your playing, otherwise it sounds a million times louder than the rest of the fingerpicking.

The accompanying CD speaks for itself--it has some choice cuts from Chick's CD, and Carles shines on the two tracks. There's a lot of other good bass playing on the CD as well--don't get me wrong. Richard Bona plays a Jaco piece, and a lot of slap bass on the other tracks. Good stuff.
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#19
I found this in the Bassics magazine, which reveals a lot about Carles' unique style of bass playing and his current projects (as of 2006):

http://www.bassics.com/carlesbenavent

It makes me want to take off those jumbo frets off of my 5 string Rivoli bass and have mandolin frets put in.

Enjoy!
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#20
I have to say, that first video of him playing was the nicest thing I've heard in quite a bit. His sound and his style is so... refreshing, in a way. Actually it makes me feel very boring playing now, but i am a definite beginner so i would do.

His hybrid picking style is very intriguing and looks a lot like slapping in a way, was he the inventer of this picking/strumming style, or just the innovator and expander.

Please keep posting Jaco, this is the most interesting thing on this forum i've seen in ages.
Keep it up!
#21
Sort of an ignorant sounding question but do you have any ... flamenco Carles Cenevant bass standards to reccomend that you have tabbed out... by any chance? I'd love to try some of this stuff, but sort of need an example set out to work on.
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Quote by crazypeanutman

damn yertle, you got some groove
#22
Another question, Carles looks fairly old, how long's he been playing bass for, and how long was he playing flamenco bass for?

PS: What's Stanley Clarke up to these days? Marcus Miller seems to be getting the headlines now.
#23
Carles has been playing flamenco bass for quite a while now. I have recordings of him playing in the early 1980s with Paco de Lucia.

Here he is with Paco in a duet:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6-AjSn38UI

Lousy footage, but you'll see Carles' unique style of playing fretless bass with a pick. In the footage, he is using a fretless Gibson EB-2 4 string.

In 1995, he switched to fretted bass due to a car accident--his left arm got severely damaged and it took him a year of therapy to get good enough to play bass again. He has not lost any of his talent though...
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#25
A flamenco technique of the month... Hmmm... sounds enticing...

I have written comments about flamenco bass technique that are scattered about this forum, but I guess I can try to consolidate them.

One thing to note about flamenco bass technique--one approach is to actually be an extension of the flamenco guitar. So when the guitar plays fast runs, the bass should play them too an octave below once in a while. Carles mixes it up by playing standard rumba and tango basslines rooted in root and fifth, but be also embellishes by throwing in really fast runs at the end of a measure, or plays double or triple stops (or chords) under the guitar's bits. He also employs trills using a pick and his middle finger and harmonic slides which sound like a whistle in the most unexpected places. Other bassists try to groove on their own against what the guitarist is doing, but that style tends to lose focus in flamenco. The flamenco guitar and bass have to be tight and together in thought, but loose enough to break off for a short while and then rejoin the thought or passage.

By the way, I sent out one of my basses to H G Thor in New York to get the neck refinished with "smooth as glass" epoxy. It is the Dearmond Starfire with the 20 different pickup configs I installed using 4 push-pull switches under the volume and tone knobs. This bass will sound totally sweet and super versatile--I'm hoping that it will sound as good as Jaco's "Bass of Doom" or Carles' fretless 5 string basses--the "mwah" factor is supposed to be unsurpassed after the process. I can't wait to get it back so I can just lock myself in my room and play it for hours on end...
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#26
I found this on You Tube. It is Ketama (a modern flamenco group from the early 1990s) with Jorge Pardo and Carles Benavent. You will get a chance to see Carles play his signature fretless 5 string Fransesc Jordan bass with a pick. The second half of the vid showcases the latter two with a cajon, singer and guitarist from Ketama--Carles' bass playing is tasty and never too up front.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-anndAHOg7g

It may not be as flashy as the stuff people rave about in this forum, like Wooten or Flea, but my philosophy is that the musicians must serve the song--if you overplay or show off for every tune, it gets boring fast. Jaco knew when to lay back and when to let it fly--and he did it with finesse. There is a time and place for virtuosity, and it is not for every piece. Carles is a master of holding the groove and keeping the audience guessing what he's going to do and where he's going to go. He can whip out the flash in an instant and go right back into laying the groove. I always have fun listening to his stuff--it's out there, yet quite natural to the piece. I hope you enjoy it too.
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#27
Just an update to previous posts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZjvSSGkUCg

Carles has been playing with Chick Corea the past year or so, and has been playing with his trio with Jorge Pardo (sax) and Tino Di Geraldo (drums).

I don't need to keep reiterating about his style--you either like it, or you poo-poo it and think he should be playing guitar. That's his style. No one I know of (other than myself) plays bass like he does. It's a different approach than the Victor Wootens and the Fleas and the Jacos out there. In fact, Victor Wooten has said that Carles is one of his favorite bassists. That says a lot right there. It's one thing to play real fast like Victor--another to be able to do it in a niche-genre like flamenco, and make it your own.

I think more bassists have come around to appreciating Carles in the past year, especially through the exposure he got via Chick Corea. By the way, Corea's "The Ultimate Adventure" live is out on DVD, if you ever want to check out more of Carles' playing style. He's so humble a player too--you don't get that sense of pompous attitude from him that many musicians have when they know they are badass. And yet, he is truly one of the most amazing and refreshing bassists out there.
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#28
This is a really great thread thank you for bringing flamenco into the forums! I also really appreciate Carles' playing and his "Barcelona" bass is simply stunning. Flamenco is probably one of the most overlooked genres when it comes to bass playing thanks for bringing it forward Jaco.
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#29
Hi folks,

I got my sunburst Dearmond Starfire bass back from H G Thor, and after some soul-searching, gutted the 20 pickup configuration in favor of a more simplistic setup: One volume knob, one tone knob, one blend knob and a 6 position Varitone switch. I had to cover up one of the excess holes with a hole plug (from OSH).

The reason is because the original pickups (the Dearmond Gold Tones) were 4 pole piece--and my bass has 5 strings now. Having 4 pole pieces worked, but it gave an uneven response to the strings.

I went and bought Q-tuner pickups (HIGHLY recommended by me) because they were the best, and they are. The harmonic content is amazing, and they are extremely quiet (they are humbuckers with 11 pole pieces in three rows). Anyways, they sound great with the H G Thor epoxy fingerboard--real Jaco-tone. The blend knob gives a lot of versatility, and the Varitone gives even more, so I'm totally happy with this bass.

I modeled it after Carles' flamenco basses (except he used a Gibson EB-2 for his bass), and it works great and looks amazing. At some point, I'd like to make better looking pickup rings, but for now, it is functional and giggable.
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#30
Pictures and sounds clips please
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#31
Here's an older clip of Carles playing bass with Jorge Pardo (sax) and Tino Di Geraldo (drums).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8pFXa4xUrY

They play bulerias, which is a traditional 12-count form in flamenco. The count starts on 12 instead of 1, and the accents are emphasized in bold as below:

12-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-

In modern flamenco, the accents are as follows:

12-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-
(this helps the flamenco guitarist figure out where he is in the pattern, since the 7-8 occurs only in oneplace in the 12-count pattern).

The count starts on 12 instead of 1, because in certain types of bulerias, the dancer does a call (a llamada), which requires the musician to break from the pattern briefly to accompany the call, and it helps the dancer if the count starts on 12 instead of 1. It's tradition.

Note that the accents are not always empasized--it is more important to never sway from the 12-count. This is known as compas--all performers of flamenco must keep compas--breaking the 12-count at any point will warrant an evil gaze from the dancers and will end your stay in the flamenco group.

By the way, in traditional flamenco, the dancer sets the tempo and all the other instruments must follow suit. I find it helpful to watch the dancer's shoes and listen to any changes in tempo. Many novice flamenco players tend to think they run the tempo, and the dancers should follow what they do--they can't be any more wrong. Dancers set the pace--it's what makes flamenco so organic and fluid.

In a form like bulerias, it is not meant to be taken so seriously. Other forms, like soleares, tarantas, or siguiryas are hardcore flamenco--you do not smile, nor do you play or dance lightheartedly. They are very deep and somber--and deal with the darkest of emotions. In American music, the blues of the Deep South are comparable in emotional content. Bulerias, guajiras, alegrias, tangos, and rumba are "lighter" in comparison--a festive celebration of song and dance.

Bulerias are quite popular (think West Side Story's "America") and any flamenco performer worth their salt must know bulerias like the back of their hand. It is generally played at the end of the evening, as it is a showstopper--with fast tempos and festive dancing. In this video example, the trio plays the form without a dancer--but that's quite common in flamenco-fusion crossover bands. 12-count is so versatile, you can break them into 2 sets of sixes, 3 sets of 4, or 4 sets of 3, as well as the 3-3-2-2-2 rhythm that is already part of the compas. Some extend it to two measures and play 3 counts of 8. The melodies are generally based on Moorish/Arabic roots played through the Andaluz' perspective (southern Spain native, where flamenco is prevalent), but in some cases a nice jazz melody will also work fine.
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
Last edited by jaco de lucia at Oct 30, 2007,
#32
Hi folks,

Just wanted to add this tidbit to the thread:

http://www.fretlessbass.com/LevinTonyInterview-01.html

Tony Levin (one of my other bass idols) has said in an interview that one of his fave fretless players right now is Carles Benavent. The "Emperor of Bass" hath bequeathed props to "El Maestro"!
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#33
Carles Benavent has a website now: http://carlesbenavent.e.telefonica.net/

He even has an email address. If you can write in Catalan or simple english, he may actually reply back.


Here's some more selected clips for you to enjoy El Maestro at work:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjcNM9I2Pks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yua8Xm9x1Y

Okay.. this next one is not a view of Carles playing, but you hear him in this vid playing a fretless Gibson EB-2 with a pick--the signature flamenco bass tone. The song is "Soy Gitano" sung by the late Camaron (the premier flamenco singer of the 1980s and 1990s). The vid is from a film called "Camaron" which is a bio of the famous Gypsy singer. If you go to southern Spain and mention his name, you will get smiles and nods of reverence for the late singer. Camaron is the equivalent of the Beatles and Led Zeppelin in flamenco--breaking stereotypes and stretching the framework of flamenco without ever losing its heart. Carles played bass on his most popular albums, and laid the foundation of flamenco bass, playing with the flamenco guitar giants Paco de Lucia and Tomatito--some of the best guitar playing you will ever come across--and they were a part of Camaron's sound. In "Soy Gitano", he gets a chance to sing with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, who was absolutely floored by the singer's mastery of pitch and emotion in his voice. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GS8uQlV8P_c&feature=related
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#34
Greetings from Spain. Nice thread...

I first saw Benavent somewhere around 1987 at the Cafe Central in Madrid. He's indeed the master of the style. Saw him last year also. He's in greatest shape.

The younger players are doing some crazy stuff here in Spain. I have a student, a fine gypsy bass player that comes for reading lessons that plays buleria with a technique similar to Abe Laboriel's. They call it the modern style. I've been playing bass profesionally for 25 years, it's first time i've seen it.

Check out also if you may Antonio Ramos "Maca", Jose Juan, Paco Peña and Pepe Pereira. They have myspace profiles. Also Pepe Bao. Rock guy but can play some mean flamenco.
#36
I believe that Carles is self taught, although he did spend a little while at a school learning how to play a standup bass. His story is that when he was young, his band was deciding what instruments each member would play--he chose bass, because he figured, "four strings instead of six... it's gotta be easier!"

Then he discovered Jaco. When most beginner bassists first hear Jaco, they either worship him or just plain give up bass altogether. Carles decided to study Jaco to the point of obssession. The only issue was that Jaco used fingerstyle and Carles played with a pick. Carles couldn't do some of the things Jaco did on bass, but the same could be said conversely. Carles developed his own style, and true to the form, he ripped out the frets on his basses--the bass that he is most known for is a natural finish Gibson EB-2D four string bass with the frets removed and the neck epoxied. He played this for many years, until he was offered a signature model opportunity by a Barcelona luthier named Francesc Jordan. The signature Carles Benavent bass looks a lot like an EB-2D--Carles' affinity to semihollowbody basses is apparent. But the signature model has an asymmetric cutaway and 28 frets, as well as 5 strings (a high C string). Fretted and fretless, Carles played these until 1995--until the car accident.

After the accident, he told me backstage that playing fretless is "very hard"--mostly due to the fact that his left arm was damaged somewhat from the accident. If any other nerves were severed, he would not have been playing bass! But luckily, he recovered enough to pick up the fretted bass and EXCEL in playing that instrument.

He will be most remembered for his fretless tone--with the pick, the attack cut through any mix of flamenco guitars, and the harmonic slides (the whooping sound heard in some of his recordings) will surely be missed. But his renewed spirit on the fretted bass is something else--it is a style all its own. A few years back, he was offered another signature bass by another luthier--Jerzy Drozd. The "Barcelona" bass is the result of their conversations, and is truly a work of art. If I had $4000 lying around, I would get one, but alas...!

For now, I have to be happy with my modified Epiphone Rivoli--which is now a fretted 5 string, and my Dearmond Starfire--which is now a fretless 5 string.

At some point, I will post a video of these basses to Youtube--but I have to think of something reasonably cool to play to capture the essence of these basses. I don't want to just noodle!
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#37
hmm.

this is like a predecessor to the BPOTM.

next time someone misses theirs, this should be stickied. and pics should then be posted.
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#38
Okay--I finally got the technology to be able to do this properly--here is the DeArmond bass that I heavily modified to get the look and sound of Carles' bass. It has Q-tuner pickups (great for harmonic content) and the H G Thor neck epoxy treatment (he's based in NY). It is a 5 string bass now, with a high C string. Hope you like it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqXqyTOrN4g
Jaco de Lucia.

The Zen of Duh: How low can you go? Zero Hertz. That's the lowest anyone can go. Just turn off your bass amp and not play.

Q-tuner PUs (0X0 configuration) and HG Thor Labs for the best fretless bass tone. MWAH FACTOR!!!
#39
hey jaco ,
As it seems the very first officially released album in Flamenco-style with an electric bass is not Camaron´s "La leyenda del Tiempo" which was recorded in 1979 , but Paco´s Album "Almoraima" recorded 1976. The Bassparts on this Album aren´t quite as spectacular as Carles´ Bassplaying , rather regular and Song supportive .

I know from an interview with Carles , that he came into Paco´s band as the first Bassplayer who´s name i don´t know yet, had to go to military service. Jorge Pardo and Ruben Dantas knew Carles and suggested to Paco to ask Carles benavent to join the Sextett.


Quote by jaco de lucia
As it turns out, Carles Benavent was not the first flamenco bassist:

Raimundo Amador, according to everyone, was the first flamenco musician who was bold enough to play the electric bass, and he says about this ?From the world of flamenco I am the first electric bass player that has come up, but Benavent is the best bass player not only from here, but of the whole world? *

*(from the book "Raimundo Amador y Pata Negra, Rock Gitano", written by Luis Clemente).

Raimundo Amador played bass on Camaron's "La Leyenda del Tiempo" (1979)--it was a standard fretted Fender Jazz-like bass sound (neck pickup), very similar to the rock groups of that era. This album was the "Sgt Pepper" of flamenco--introducing drum kit, bass, sitar, and keyboards to the isolated musical world fo flamenco. Purists hated it--but the next generation of flamenco aficionados and artists knew that it was time for change. Already, Paco De Lucia was learning to play jazz with Chick Corea, so the tides for flamenco were turning.

These days, flamenco has elements from around the world--salsa, samba, middle eastern rhythms, East Indian rhythms and instrumentation--there is no stone unturned these days for flamenco. Even rap, hip-hop and punk attitudes have infiltrated flamenco, for what it's worth.

Carles is still doing flamenco bass, but he's also playing with the likes of Chick Corea and touring. Paco De Lucia is playing with a different bassist these days--perhaps because Carles' style has progressed away from fretless--but his bass playing is still world class. Carles' new solo album "Aigua" veers away from the super fast bass lines of old and focuses on soundscapes of music. It's not my favorite from him, but it is growing on me.

The post-Paco output of Carles and the rest of the Paco De Lucia sextet seems to venture into polyrhythmic ideas--playing 3 against 2 and so on--blurring the lines between traditional flamenco and world music.

In my neck of the woods (Santa Clara, CA) flamenco has taken one of three paths:

1. The purists perform what was standardized in the "Golden Age of Flamenco" back in the 1930s-1950s. They frown on any innovations and "outside influences" like electric bass and even cajon.

2. The newly initiated jump on the "Nouveau Flamenco" bandwagon, playing the likes of Ottmar Liebert and Gipsy Kings. Liebert is not real flamenco--it is sort of a new-age watered down version of flamenco. Liebert was a student of Carlos Lomas in Santa Fe, who gave Liebert one flamenco guitar lesson--Liebert went on to record some demos which sold in the millions, making him an international success; Lomas is still living a life of a starving musician (even though he is an incredible flamenco guitarist). I gotta admit that I was part of this group initially (you have to start somewhere) but I quickly started looking elsewhere for inspiration, as I got bored playing rumba flamencafor every piece.

3. The middle-eastern flamenco fusion group. Flamenco guitarists either want to play only flamenco or want to venture out and fuse flamenco with other genres. The latter tend to form these types of groups. I belong to one right now--we do flamenco, but we also do Moroccan music, Turkish music, and some elements of jazz and rock. Currently, we have belly dancers join us for gigs, as well as flamenco dancers--it's pretty cool!

Anyways, there aren't a lot of places to experience real flamenco these days unless you go to Spain, let alone experience flamenco bass. It's a small niche, but I'm glad to be a part of it. You gotta make your mark in this world somehow, right?
#40
Don't necrobump; this thread has been around longer than I have!
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