Bakithi Kumalo, from Graceland to Guitar Center

Like most bass players I know who learned to play in the 1980s, when I heard the bass playing on Paul Simon’s Graceland album (released in 1986), my conception of bass opened up a whole lot wider. Here was a guy, at the time unknown, playing horn-like melodies with this really cool, fluid bass sound and slapping on fretless, bringing us a bass style we had truly not heard before. And then, to top it off, there was that breathtaking reverse-and-forward slap fill in “Call Me Al”: something so unique, so technically impressive, but also so musically rich that it helped define the song instead of simply showing off the bass player. Well, that guy was South Africa’s Bakithi Kumalo. Although he’s most celebrated for his work with Paul Simon, he’s also supported Gloria Estefan, Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan, Harry Belafonte, Cyndi Lauper, Mickey Hart and others, and has released six of his own albums.

Here he is showing us some of the classic Graceland bass lines, with the help of the Bass Envelope Phaser. It’s enlightening to see how he plays the “Call Me Al” lick (having performed this song myself!), and it’s also interesting to hear how the BEP actually makes his fretted bass sound more fretless!

Bakhiti is bringing his sound, his stories, his wisdom and his Pigtronix bass pedals (Bass Envelope Phaser, Bass Fat Drive and Philosoper Bass Compressor) to three upcoming Guitar Center clinics in Pennsylvania and New York states, starting THIS THURSDAY. There will also be product discounts and giveaways, so if you’re near any of these stores, don’t miss it! All clinics start at 7pm, and admission is free.

Thursday, Sep 26
Guitar Center
250 Lehigh Valley Mall Space 720
Whitehall, PA
Phone: 610-231-0616

Thursday, Oct 3
Guitar Center
8 Garet Place
Commack, NY
Phone: 631-858-2388

Thursday, Oct 10
Guitar Center
2141 Palmer Ave.
Larchmont, NY
Phone: 914-833-9600