In 1966 he was declared by "Downbeat"Magazine to be; In 1970 "Downbeat" said; While performing with the great Jimmy McGriff "Essence" Magazine cited him to be....."The Heartbeat of The Group."
"A seasoned and formidable Bass player, Mickey hasn't missed a beat.....His longevity and musical expertise has deepened and matured with time and experience. I love 'Be-bop'. I grew up in it, and on it.....I want to perpetuate it because there are a lot of Musical Architects who are no longer with us...Architects who are no longer with us.....
Mickey Bass; Emanating from a Musical Background.....
In Pittsburgh his Maternal Grandmother had been a performer in 'Minstrel' Shows and taught Piano. A 'Cum Laude' graduate; she taught English to Italian immigrants, and to Mickey & his Cousins' she taught; Barbershop Harmony'. Mickey's Mother also sang and danced...
He was born into all of this on May 2nd 1943; Lee Oddis Bass lll....A Pittsburgh born Bassist, who became, and is a 'Major Force' on the New York Jazz Scene, for more than 40 years.....
"A First Rate Soloist!"
"He is definitely worth listening to! His melodious ideas are something to behold."
While playing with Freddie Hubbard, Lee Edwards found Mickeys' Ensemble work to be:
"Nothing short of brilliant!"
Also, whilst a member of Art Blakeys' fabled "Jazz Messengers"; Mickeys' Compositional abilities' came to light'
In 1979,"The New York Times" declared: "When Mickey Bass & "The Co-operation" get in the 'right groove'...it is doubtful if there is another jazz group in town that swings as hard as this one".
There's been plenty said, and written, and most importantly heard from Mickey Bass in the intervening years, but I leave you with this one:
The genuine, uncontrived nature of this Music, and its' ability to provide a conduit to the souls of both performers, and listeners alike can only serve to inspire....."
Mercy Monet, January 2007 "Jazz Improv." Magazine
There is a lot more to Lee Oddis Bass lll than that.....(Read full Interview Here!)
In person, his optimism and easy wit convey the impression that he's always lived life in 'cruise-o-matic over-drive'! His World was "An all-day sucker, flavored with Jazz!".. But all that belies an intense and lifelong struggle towards his own destiny. Speaking of his dear friend John Hicks, Mickey says: " I included John, on many 'gigs', with Gloria Lynne, when we were just starting out. Later on, John saw qualities in me, and asked things of me, which I didn't even know I could do, 'on the spot' ! Such as; Arranging, which I subsequently did for him on many occasions....."
"Nobody said it was going to be easy.....
and 'Nobody'...was Right!"
By the time he was nine years old Bass had just about every record that 'Bird' ever cut, not to mention living in an atmosphere that was permeated by 'Dizzy', 'Duke', 'Basie', 'Sassy', Billie' and 'Miles'.....These recordings were later considered ideal 'Frisbee' material by his younger brother and sister...little did they know!
In 1961 Bass entered "Howard University", where he studied Bass with Bernard Mason. What he also discovered there was a very definite bias, against 'Blues' and 'Be-bop'...
He was 'failed' there, by a Teacher who came across him practicing in a music room on the Campus, playing 'Jazz'.
Classmates Harold Vick, Marion Brown and Charles Tolliver all suffered similarly because nobody, at that time, was allowed to play 'Jazz' on Campus.....
In 1963 Bass caught 'Apple Fever', and headed for New York City.
In New York early 'breaks' came with Titan Tenor Saxophonist Hank Mobley, at the famous "Hotel Theresa", Harlem. Mickey also played at the original "Birdland" with Sonny Rollins and Bennie Green. His first recording date was with Lee Morgan, on the 'Blue Note' record label; "The Sixth Sense".....
Mickey Bass: "It was originally 'slated' as "The Sleepwalker", I was 'subbing' for Ron Carter - who had asked me to 'sub' for him at the rehearsal for that record date, which was at Lynn Oliver Studios' - where "Blue Note" records always rehearsed for its' recordings.....Ron was unable to make rehearsal that day.....he was unable to make rehearsal the next day as well.....( he was really doing me a favor I think, and getting me ready to be a new Bass player for the "Blue Note" 'clique', just as he did when he was teaching at "City College" when he used some of my small band Arrangements that "Second Floor Music" was putting out on the market...)
Eventually Lee Morgan looked at me, and said: "Look! Ron's not here, you're here and you know the Music and you're on the Record!"
I happened to have one of my Arrangements with me, which didn't yet have a title, we needed another tune, and so...we played it..and 'it', for lack of a better title, became known as "Mickey's Tune". So; because my writing debut stayed 'in the can' for 32 years.....and was eventually released in 2000...my 'Recorded Compositional Debut' has sometimes been referred to as my "Recorded Compositional 'De-butt'!!!!! Mickey Bass, December 21st 2006.
Mickey Bass is a Man who is; "always a 'work in progress'!
There is no future without a past as far as the Music is concerned....."
Mickey will tell you without the slightest hesitation, or reservation, that " It was Jimmy Blanton, Oscar Pettiford and Ray Brown who were the men to first establish what modern Bass playing was to be about; they were the Inventors of the time.....
In those days, when I was coming along; you didn't just walk up on the stand and play, or; you would find yourself 'ostracized'...both Musically, and socially too...
That's just the way it was...and it was beautiful... because you were being silently instructed; "You must play it right...or not at all. Learn the Music, learn your instrument ...and learn it right."
Coltrane, Parker, Coleman...All of them spent many agonizing hours, toiling over their instruments, and the Music...They didn't 'arrive' at who they were, solely by emulating recordings of others.....
There is no future without a past, as far as the Music is concerned."
What Mickey would like you to know:
"I believe in playing it 'straight-ahead', and I believe in playing the 'changes'....."
That he Wrote & Arranged, and the Production won An 'Emmy' for best Music.
That he Produced some excellent Records.
In 1966 he was declared by "Downbeat"Magazine to be;
In 1970 "Downbeat" said;
While performing with the great Jimmy McGriff "Essence" Magazine cited him to be....."The Heartbeat of The Group."
"A seasoned and formidable Bass player, Mickey hasn't missed a beat.....His longevity and musical expertise has deepened and matured with time and experience.
I love 'Be-bop'. I grew up in it, and on it.....I want to perpetuate it because there are a lot of Musical Architects who are no longer with us...Architects who are no longer with us.....
That he has taught, inspired, and guided many now well known Musicians