Get Up Close and “Intense” with Jimmy Haslip

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Over 20 Grammy nominations, 2 Grammy wins, over 300 featured records and over 40 years in the music industry adds up to many epic stories from former Yellowjackets bassist, Jimmy Haslip. The Track Distillery catalog by Megatrax has been honored to have one of its newest releases, Intensity (TD053), written entirely by Haslip. We got the rare opportunity to sit down with Haslip for a one on one interview about his jet-setting life and working with Megatrax.


Megatrax: How did you get involved with Megatrax?

Jimmy Haslip: I used to record in the actual studio that Megatrax has now, when I was with RCA. I was a fan of Eddie King, who brought me into some sessions that Ron and JC were doing, and eventually I ended up doing some tracks for the Megatrax library. When Derek Jones (chief sound engineer) started working here, we ended up doing a couple of projects inside and outside the studio (including the Megatrax London Orchestral Series) which led to Intensity (TD053).


MX: You’ve been playing music for over 40 years. Over this course of time, what would you say has been a major change you’ve seen in music?

JH: There are a lot of things, but the big change I’ve seen is technology and the way things are recorded. I’ve been doing this since 1975, so I’ve seen the progress with technology, but I also miss the way business used to be in the ‘70s and ‘80s when radio, record stores, and even live music were more prevalent.


MX: You wrote the album Intensity for Track Distillery. What was your thought process when creating this album?

JH: I don’t get much opportunity to write this type of music, being that I’m mostly in jazz, so I came into the studio with some ideas in mind that Derek was game about doing. I wanted to write something with intense vibes, so we programmed really heavy, intense, grungy drums, and came up with some keyboard sounds, and I was using these really intense effects on my bass. The name “Intensity” just came from my thought of living in L.A., which is this big city that’s intense!


MX: Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations or influences?

JH: I’m a big fan of Led Zeppelin, Weather Report, Jaco Pastorius, and, in my early days, Jimi Hendrix. I grew up listening to everything from Tito Puente to Count Basie to Stravinsky and Mozart. Even Tony Bennett, Jerry Vale and Johnny Mathis. Also, in the producing sense, Tom Dowd, Tommy Lipuma, Al Schmitt, and Gary Katz.


MX: You’ve toured and worked with some pretty successful people in the music industry. What is one of your most memorable collaborations?

JH: I’ve gotten to work with so many heavy weight producers, engineers, singers, and musicians doing so many different sessions and playing on over 300 records that it’s hard to mention just one collaboration that has stood out to me.


MX: Can you talk about some of the upcoming projects you’re working on?

JH: Jeff Lorber Fusion’s record is something I have coming out soon. I’m producing four projects that won’t be out for a while. I’m working with some really cool Atlanta musicians and I’m working on an EP with a saxophonist from L.A. that was in the Air Force Band. And of course, I just played bass on an indie folk album with Megatrax that will be coming out soon!


Feeling intrigued by Jimmy Haslip’s extensive resume? Check out more that he’s done just with Megatrax!

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