Willie “Little Beaver” Hale Talks Jaco Pastorius, Bass Guitar, and George “Chocolate” Perry

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(L to R) Willie Hale, Timmy Thomas, Willie Clarke, and Henry Stone – 2013 – ©Jake Katel

“I’ve been on a lot of sessions, man. Even ones you might not know about. I did the guitar part on Gwen McCrae’s “Rockin’ Chair.” And I wrote the bass line for Latimore’s “Let’s Straighten It Out.”

Latimore has always been mean on the keys. He played them on my song “Party Down.” And George “Chocolate” Perry had the bass kicking on that one. In fact, Choco did the whole album with me except for one song, and that was with Jaco Pastorius.

The bass player is just as important as the drummer when it comes to backing the guitar and the keyboard. The bass and the drummer coordinate together. It takes a good bass player to stay with the drums. They also have to make chord changes and sometimes they gotta be there before the guitar even gets there.

Sometimes the bass needs to take the lead. George “Chocolate” Perry did that. He’d take the lead and then he’d already be there when the chord changed, waiting on you.

It’s like that in salsa music, where the bass kinda like booms before the percussions and comes in early like bbbbaadddooomm, da booom.

It makes a woman’s hips want to move and it’s like she’s dancing with the bass. That just kills me. That’s what I was thinking with the whole Party Down album. The Latin flavor.

I picked up on that just listening to Latin music in Miami, which had a lot of African in it, so it was already in me, but I guess when I heard it, it inspired me.”

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