Hey Shredder (bass edition)

7 questions for the low end

Reed Mathis

Tea Leaf Green

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No one plays bass like Reed Mathis. Or perhaps more accurately, Mathis plays bass like no one else. His DNA is unique, and unlike many practitioners of the four-string arts, he’s a duck in any water he’s thrown into – an image whose physicality captures some of the rippled muscle and action charge he brings to his instrument and those he plays alongside. Most of the time these days, Mathis can be found rockin’ proper in Tea Leaf Green (and he co-produced their latest album, too). However, he spent 15 years keeping jazz malleable and fresh in the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, and puts in time in numerous projects these days, including a much-anticipated collection of Beethoven re-imaginings that will see the light of day after years of carving with pals like The Slip’s Andrew Barr and Phish’s Mike Gordon and Page McConnell.


No one plays bass like Reed Mathis. Or perhaps more accurately, Mathis plays bass like no one else. His DNA is unique, and unlike many practitioners of the four-string arts, he’s a duck in any water he’s thrown into – an image whose physicality captures some of the rippled muscle and action charge he brings to his instrument and those he plays alongside. Most of the time these days, Mathis can be found rockin’ proper in Tea Leaf Green (and he co-produced their latest album, too). However, he spent 15 years keeping jazz malleable and fresh in the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, and puts in time in numerous projects these days, including a much-anticipated collection of Beethoven re-imaginings that will see the light of day after years of carving with pals like The Slip’s Andrew Barr and Phish’s Mike Gordon and Page McConnell.

Favorite effects pedal? Why?
Volume pedal. Played in a certain way, it can turn any instrument into a voice. Listen to any pedal steel player!
Tastiest bassist — i.e. not just soloing but also overall playing — currently working four-strings?
Well, can I say Chris Wood, Robert Mercurio, Marc Friedman, Steve Adams, Dave Dreiwitz, Mike Gordon, George Porter, Chris Stillwell, Felix Pastorius, Edgar Meyer, Andy Hess?
A bass solo I never get tired of listening to is:
Willie Weeks on Donny Hathaway’s “Voices Inside”
Preferred brand of axe?
Fender. Not sure why. Been playing the same bass since 1995. I’ll get another one someday, probably not a Fender.
Charlie Haden, Jaco or John Paul Jones – which one gives you the biggest bass boner? What makes them SO sweet?
Well, I’m honestly not all that familiar with Charlie Haden, outside of the 3 or 4 classic Ornette Coleman records I’ve heard. He’s kind of hard to hear on those records, although I heard one from the seventies called Science Fiction Sessions. He sounded amazing on that.

And Jaco…I’m not sure he really counts as a bassist. He just happened to be holding a bass, but he didn’t really play the role of bassist very much. He just used it to make his sounds. So, as much as I LOVE some of the music he made, I don’t really think of it as Bass Music.

So, JOHN PAUL JONES, definitely. What more could anyone possibly want for their bass dollar? He pretty much nailed it every time.

One lesser-known bassist folks should check out is:
Joey Arkenstat
What aspect of being a bassist always makes you happy?
Well, the art of bass is the art of making the other guys look good, pretty much. And that always makes me happy. Also, feeling comfortable enough on the instrument to shout through it is a wonderful feeling, on nights where I’m so lucky.