Interview - Rene Worst

Rene Worst

Rene Worst was voted Bassist of the Year by the BC CARAS Tribute to West Coast Music for the 4 years that the awards were given. Rene was co-leader of the now-legendary fusion band Skywalk with six CD’s to their credit.  He has toured Canada with jazz legends Chet Baker,  Gene Bertoncini and Joe Pass and on the international scene, has toured  the former Soviet Union with Paul Horn. He is a virtuoso on both string and electric basses. Rene Worst has recorded and performed with numerous jazz greats, including  Jack Sheldon, Tommy Banks, Herb Ellis, Freddie Hubbard, Ernestine Anderson, John Faddis, Don Thompson to name a few and  has recorded and produced 7 CDs for musical partner, Jennifer Scott, one of the top jazz artists in Canada, including the highly acclaimed “ Emotional Girl“. He has also been featured as a session player on recordings by Jennifer Love Hewitt, David Bowie, Aerosmith and Poison, to name a few.


What are some important musical and other lessons you've learned that you can pass on to aspiring bassists?

There is a lot I can say so i will try to be concise. Have a passion {eg jazz}, but at the same time benefit from being a well rounded player. Learn to read well, bass and treble clef. Do theatre gigs, recording singer songwriter material, casuals and teaching etc. That way you will have a better chance of earning a living rather than having another profession.
i have always enjoyed playing the bass I felt was right for the tune, meaning either acoustic, electric or fretless. You should learn a least a little bit of arco technique.
Treat other bass players as colleagues not as competitors. Have a positive and generous attitude.

What are three of your favourite recordings that you consider essential for any bassist to check out?

It's hard to only pick three as I play acoustic and electric and love them both. Here are three that had a major impact on my education:

1. Oscar Peterson - Trio Plus One [with Clark Terry]. Ray Brown is swinging!

2. Bill Evans - Live at the Village Vanguard with Scott Lafaro
    Bill evans - Intuition with Eddie Gomez

3. Heavy Weather - Weather Report. Jaco Pastorius.

Can you share some practice ideas? What should aspiring bassists focus on? What worked/works for you? I realize this is a very broad question that varies with individuals' needs, but I'm looking for some general ideas, and in particular what worked for you.

There are so many things to practice that i developed a way to create a schedule so you don't go insane. Split your practice session into four groups:

1. technique/warm up.  2. sight reading.  3. reading   4. improv

I think these are self explanatory. For example, for for no.1,  pick a scale, mode or exercise and play it in every key.The next session do a different scale etc. For no. 2 pick material on the edge of your ability and use a click. No.3 - choose harder material that you you need to work on. No.4 involves soloing, playing on changes, working on grooves and transcribing. You can split this schedule equally with whatever time you choose.

Do you have any advice for overcoming difficulties or obstacles?

Use a click. A lot of young players don't get a lot of experience recording with click tracks. It is so easy to manipulate your track with the various operating systems we use now. Practice slowly then speed up.

I use an analogy for demoralized students when they hit a wall. I tell them that wall is the the bottom of the next peak and that means they are improving. Just start climbing again. It doesn't mean any thing but it seems to work!!

Do you have any advice for players beginning their careers?

I wish I had sound advice. Things are very different now than were when i was younger. Here are a couple of things:

1. Do all gigs for experience.
2. Go out on the road when you are young. Play in indie bands, go on adventures. When you get older you won't want to put up with some of the shit that happens. lol
Finally, i think if you want to focus on being a jazz musician, go to cities that have big jazz scenes - New York, Toronto, Montreal and even Vancouver.
Do you have any gear advice?
There is a lot of great gear out there. i use Genz Benz, SWR and Traynor 112 block. I have two very nice acoustics but I played a nicely set up Hofner for years. I use Underwood pick-ups [now considered old school]. I now own several nice electrics. I often use my Mollerup 6 and my old Schector fretless. I like low tension light-gauge strings on all my basses. My belief is that if you have decent gear, the sound is in your hands.

What's coming up for you and how can we follow you (website, social media, etc,)?

A new recording and touring with Crossing Borders
A new duet recording with Jennifer Scott
A new recording with Bill Coon and Jennifer Scott
A new recording with the Bill Sample Trio
And find me on facebook!