Tales Episode 05: Mark Egan

Moving back to my 20 years with Michael Franks anniversary tribute, I have the utmost delight in speaking with a gentleman that I’ve known primarily from listening to his music. And once again, through Michael, I now have the greatest pleasure to work with this unique artist Mark Egan.

Before I met with Mark, I did my usual research to find out all that I could about his career. Although the biography I present here seems short and concise, the truth of the matter is Mark’s musical history is nothing short of a rich narrative. When reading his bio you’d think that he’s played on every album that was ever made. OK so maybe not every album, but his body of work is incredibly impressive. The scope of people and different fields of music and art can be considered one of the attributing factors as to why he is on the forefront of the contemporary scene and one of the most sought after electric bassist in the industry. For example, he’s worked with Sting, Roger Daltry, Marianne Faithful, The Pointer Sisters, Stan Getz, Jim Hall, Gill Evans Orchestra, Pat Metheny Group, David Sanborn. Musical contributions to movies such as Aladdin, The Color of Money, NBC sports, CNN Headline news. He is the owner of Wavetone Records and recently finished the construction of Electric Fields Studio, a state of the art full service recording facility.

After finding out about these excellent segments of his career, to say that I understand why he’s considered to be one of the most respected and in-demand electric bassist on the music scene today is an understatement. If seeing is believing, then I can attest to why he works all the time. I have the learning experience of seeing Mark in action and also the enjoyment of playing with him. He contributes to the music in a self-effacing way, yet his particular sound is an essential component to each songs life and vibrancy. He is distinctive and he is versatile. His love of music has consistently been his compass for seeking out new sounds, finding and playing with kindred souls. He is an artist who loves the process of creating with other artists.

“The fretless bass is a wonderful musical instrument and Mark Egan is one of the few musicians to play it well. In fact, not many bassists, fretless or fretted, can play a six-minute bass solo, as Egan does on “Waterfall Cafe,” without utterly boring the audience.”          Review by Tim Griggs of CD A Touch of Light

“From spacy mood music to some funkier sounds, this is a fine outing for distinctive electric bassist Mark Egan.”
Review by Scott Yannow of  CD Beyond Words

About Mark Egan

Mark Egan is considered to be one of the most respected and in-demand electric bassists on the music scene today. His unique fretless bass sound and style is both distinctive and versatile and his musical contributions incomparable. With three platinum & three gold albums to his credit, Mark has recorded with the likes of the Pat Metheny Group, Sting, Arcadia, Roger Daltry and Joan Osborne; performed with the Gil Evans Orchestra, Marianne Faithful, David Sanborn, John McGlaughlin and Sophie B. Hawkins and has added his musical prowess to such movies and television shows as; Aladdin, The Color Of Money, A Chorus Line, NBC Sports, ABC’s All My Children, CNN/Headline News and numerous award winning television commercials.

Born in Brockton, Massachusetts, Mark began his musical studies on the trumpet at the age of 10, mainly through the influence of his father who was an avid player. He continued to play the trumpet through high school in jazz bands, R&B groups, the high school orchestra and started playing bass at age 16. He enrolled in the University of Miami School of Music under the direction of Jerry Coker and studied privately with the late, great Jaco Pastorius whose influence remains with him to this day. “When I heard Jaco play it made me aware of what could be done on the electric bass, particularly with regard to grooving and soloing – – Jaco just made me aware of another way of thinking about the bass and music.”
While in Florida Mark formed a band with fellow University of Miami students; Clifford Carter (keyboards), Hiram Bullock (Guitar), Billy Bowker (Drums) and Phyllis Hyman (vocals). They came to New York in 1976 and soon afterward, Mark hooked up with the Pointer Sisters, Deodato and David Sanborn. Mark’s notoriety was gaining and he quickly caught the eye of U of Miami School mate, Pat Metheny – joining the group in 1977. It was through this association that Mark would team up with Metheny drummer, Danny Gottlieb and go on to form the group Elements. To this day, Elements is one of the most highly acclaimed experimental contemporary jazz groups in the world.

The band has recorded over eight full length albums and have toured in over twenty-seven countries. Their uncompromising live sound continues to be on the forefront of the jazz music scene. While Mark continues to work with Elements and hold down the chair in the Gil Evans Orchestra (a position he has held for over thirteen years), his solo projects represent a more personal side of his musical makeup.

His solo debut, Mosaic (Windham Hill Records) delved into adventurous territory on his exotic custom-made eight and ten string basses – – painting beautiful soundscapes over multi-layered musical textures. His follow up LP, Touch of Light ( GRP Records) displayed another facet of Mark’s creativity. Touch of Light featuring; Danny Gottlieb (drums), Clifford Carter (keyboards) and Bill Evans (sax) proved to be more upbeat and aggressive further exploring the sound of his arsenal of basses (30 at last count). In 1993 Mark signed with Bluemoon Records and released the highly anticipated album, Beyond Words which again featured; Gottlieb, Carter and Evans. It also introduced to the American music scene famed Brazilian guitarist, Toninho Horta whose bossa nova style and melodic compositions would take the music in a new direction.
Mark not only continues his recording and touring efforts which recently included studio performances with Joan Osborne, Michael Franks, Rory Block, Marianne Faithful, and tours with; Elements, Bill Evans and Marianne Faithful, but his passion and visionary approach to contemporary jazz music has led him to the creation of his independent record label, Wavetone Records. He brings his twenty years of performing, recording and producing experience to this new label, dedicated to providing an outlet for creative music projects. To-date Wavetone has released to critical appraise four albums; Elements, Far East Volume I and II, Elements Untold Stories, Egan’s, Mosaic Joe Beck, Finger Painting and the most recent release, Jeff Ciampa, Signs of Life. In addition, Mark has realized his dream with the completion of is own state-of-the-art recording studio, Electric Fields, designed by the highly acclaimed acoustical architect John Storyk. Electric Fields is equipped with a 40-track digital recording system and an array of vintage sound processing gear. Projects already in production include Mark’s solo project, guitarist Jeff Ciampa Trio and Element’s long awaited studio album.

Mark continues to explore new sound territories through his extraordinary recording, composing and touring activities. His successful efforts as a musician, producer and label manager keep him on the forefront of the contemporary music scene.

Electric Fields Studio is a state of the art full service recording facility located 57 miles Northwest of New York City in the beautiful country setting of Orange County, New York. Designed by highly acclaimed acoustical architect John Storyk and built by master carpenter Ikuo Matsui, Electric Fields has a warm and creative environment. Acoustic treatment and electronic architecture were designed by Dan Zelman and Richard Brownstein. Electric Fields is equipped with a 40-track digital recording system and an array of vintage sound processing gear.

Taken from Mark’s bio page on his website www.markegan.com

Tales from the Jazzside