TV-Documentary About Electric Bass Legend Carol Kaye

In 2004 Pekka Rautionmaa produced the 52 minutes music-documentary “First Lady Of Bass” about electric bass innovator Carol Kaye for the Finnish broadcaster YLE. There’s a long extract of it on YouTube.

Carol Kaye started her career as jazz guitarist in the late nineteen-forties. In the late nineteen-fifties she started working in the music studios of Los Angeles, playing guitar for legends like Sam Cooke and Ritchie Valens. In the early sixties she picked up the electric bass. Thanks to her talent of creating catchy bass lines, her music reading ability and her versatility in all kinds of styles, she soon became the number one electric bass player in Los Angeles.

Carol Kaye recorded among others for Elvis, Ray Charles, The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, The Byrds, The Monkees, The Doors, Frank and Nancy Sinatra, Count Basie, Hampton Hawes, Mel Tormé and Barbara Streisand. Her TV and movie credits include Mission Impossible, Hawaii 5-O, M*A*S*H, Streets of San Francisco, In The Heat Of The Night, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, Bullitt and Sugarland Express.

In the documentary Carol Kaye demonstrates her electric bass and electric guitar playing and plays together with Brian Wilson. There’s a lot of interesting first hand information about the studio musicians of Los Angeles who played on many great pop, rock, easy listening and soundtrack recordings.

The extract on YouTube contains quotes by Perry Botkin (composer/arranger), Don Peake (guitar player/composer) and sound engineer David Gold, co-owner of Hollywood music studio “Gold Star” where among others Ritchie Valens, Eddie Cochran, Herb Alpert and Phil Spector recorded.

To my knowledge the documentary is not available on DVD.

‘Wrecking Crew’ Live Reunion in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Studio Musicians Chuck Berghofer, Don Randi, Hal Blaine, Carol Kaye

IMPORTANT UPDATE (June 23rd, 2008)
According to a statement on her forum, Carol Kaye won’t perform on June 28th.

Legendary studio musicians Carol Kaye (electric bass), Hal Blaine (drums), Don Randi (piano) and Chuck Berghofer (upright bass) will perform live in Los Angeles on June 28th.

This exclusive reunion takes place after the Los Angeles premiere of Denny Tedesco’s documentary movie The Wrecking Crew as part of the Grand Performances Program in downtown Los Angeles. According to Carol Kaye’s forum Glen Campbell and Nancy Sinatra will probably perform, too. Though this has yet to be confirmed.

In the nineteen-sixties Carol Kaye, Hal Blaine, Don Randi and Chuck Berghofer were part of a big group of Los Angeles studio musicians – many of them jazz musicians – who worked day and night in the music studios. Together they left an indelible sonic mark upon thousands of pop songs, movie soundtracks and commercials. They actually were not a group. Studio musicians were all hired individually, usually by contractors. But because they performed together on famous records, music lovers and journalists often wrongly think that the studio musicians were a kind of a rock band.

Here’s just a small example of artists Carol Kaye, Hal Blaine, Don Randi and Chuck Berghofer played for together or individually: Beach Boys, Nancy Sinatra, Simon and Garfunkel, Elvis Presley, Henry Mancin, The Mamas & Papas, Connie Francis, Herb Alpert, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, James Brown, Sonny and Cher, Quincy Jones, Bobby Darin, The Monkees, Barbara Streisand, Diana Ross, Neil Diamond, Phil Spector and Motown productions and … OK, I think you get the picture. The list would go on and on.

You ask for more? Fine, here are some movie and TV soundtracks they played on: Mission Impossible, Planet Of The Apes, The Bill Cosby Show, Streets Of San Francisco, Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, In The Heat Of The Night and, The Pawnbroker, Airport and, and, and…

Related links

Music Legends Attend “Nashville Film Festival”

studio musicians at work in Los Angeles

The music documentary The Wrecking Crew featuring the great studio musicians from Los Angeles who recorded countless hits in the nineteen-sixties comes to Nashville on Thursday, April 24th.

It will be shown at 7:00 PM as part of the Nashville Film Festival at Green Hills Cinema. Some of the legendary studio musicians will be present at the screening.

Besides the officially confirmed attendance of piano player Don Randi and bass/ukulele player Lyle Ritz it is rumored that guitar and producer/arranger legend Billy Strange (“These Boots Are Made For Walkin'”) will be present together with his wife Jeanne Black who was a singer in the nineteen-fifties and sixties (“He’ll Have To Stay”).

At 09:00 pm there will be a closing night celebration at the Cannery Ballroom with live music played by some of the musicians who are featured in the documentary.

More about studio musicians:

The ‘Wrecking Crew’ Movie – Documentary About L.A. Studio Musicians Of The Sixties

Carol Kaye And Tommy Tedesco

Denny Tedesco, son of the late studio guitar master Tommy Tedesco, made a movie called The Wrecking Crew about the great studio musicians of the sixties who worked in the Los Angeles music studios.

It features studio legends Carol Kaye, Plas Johnson, Hal Blaine, Don Randi and many more. Stars like Cher, Nancy Sinatra, and Micky Dolenz (the Monkees) are featured, too.

The documentary will be shown in March at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival and at the SXSW in Austin, Texas. In April it will be shown at the Nashville Film Festival. You can find further information on the Wrecking Crew Movie Homepage.

See also:

Most Perfect Sound From The Black Forest

MPS LogoWhy did Oscar Peterson record several LPs in a small town in the Black Forest? Because Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer had a dream: He wanted to produce jazz records of chosen artists in the highest possible sound quality. To fulfill his dream he founded the label “Musik Produktion Schwarzwald MPS” (“Music Production Black Forest”). In his studio in Villingen his sound engineers achieved an incredible good sound. The quality was so outstanding that jazz musicians all over the world nicknamed the MPS label “Most Perfect Sound”. Musicians like George Duke, Jean-Luc Ponty, Hans Koller and Joe Pass traveled to the Black Forest to record legendary music.

If you want to know more about Brunner-Schwer and the sound engineers and musicians who were involved in the MPS records, I recommend the documentary MPS – Jazzin’ The Black Forest. It also shows rare footage of the late Oscar Peterson and a sound engineer tells how pleased Peterson was with the sound of his piano on the MPS records.

Related: MPS Reissues