Talking to veteran jazz bassist Eddie Gomez about the musicians he’s played with is easy. The difficult part is talking about those he hasn’t played with. Gomez, who plays Dazzle this Saturday (at 7 p. m. and 9 p. m.) and Sunday (at 5 p. m. and 7 p. m.) with his trio (including Stefan Karlsson on piano and Ed Soph on drums), has played with the best and brightest from his first gigs until today.
“I started playing bass [when I was] 11 years old,” Gomez recalled in a recent telephone interview. “I was a little guy, but [the size of the instrument] didn’t occur to me; I wanted to play music. My teacher looked at my hands and said, ‘I think you’re going to be a bass player.'”
Although he played all kinds of music at a very early age, the bassist recounted, “Jazz was my first love. [After attending school,] I got to play with Benny Goodman. One time [cornetist] Bobby Hackett was in the band, and [pioneering vibraphonist] Lionel Hampton was in it.” He then went on to list an amazing array of “early” jazz players, including Buck Clayton, Edmond Hall, Pee Wee Russell, and [former Denver resident] Peanuts Hucko. “I was lucky. I was blessed,” said Gomez, in a major understatement.
So how did Eddie Gomez come to one of his most important jobs, playing in the Bill Evans Trio? “[He] heard me in Gerry Mulligan’s small group with Art Farmer. We were playing the same week with his trio at the Village Vanguard. His manager told me, ‘Bill wants to talk to you.’ Bill told me if I wanted to, I could sit in any time,” Gomez recalled.
Although he admitted to “…not feeling right…” about sitting in with Evans while playing with other bands, Gomez laughed, “He called me a month later. I happened to be playing with Bobby Darin at the Copacabana. [He] said, ‘I have a tour.’ I said, ‘Yes.'” Gomez played with the Evans trio for 12 years.
After his stint with Evans, Eddie Gomez has continued to play with every kind of band, including Jack DeJohnette’s New Directions, the pioneering fusion group Steps Ahead, and the Gadd Gang, a group led by drummer Steve Gadd. Recently, he played in a “supertrio” with Chick Corea and the late Paul Motian on Further Explorations, a tribute to the classic Bill Evans Trio of the late ’50’s and early ’60’s.
This weekend, jazz fans can look forward to Gomez’ incredible chops and melodic musicianship in tandem with his fine trio. For reservations, call (303)839-5100. And for any of the many albums that feature Eddie Gomez, you can always go to Denver’s best independent record store, Twist and Shout. Once you hear Eddie Gomez, he’ll become your favorite bass player. That’s a guarantee.