For a bunch of jazz nerds with a taste for fat hip hop beats, BADBADNOTGOOD have done awfully well for themselves. Bursting into mainstream consciousness after an online video of an Odd Future / Gucci Mane jazz mashup caught the attention of Tyler, The Creator, the Canadian jazz ensemble (comprised of Chester Hansen, Matt Tavares, Alex Sowinski, and the recent addition of long time collaborator Leland Whitty) have gone on to play a huge role towards revitalising jazz for a modern audience. With a hefty five albums under their belt, including an awesome 2015 collaborative effort with Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah, and a constant string of festival appearances, it seems like the Canadian ensemble will be kicking it for a while longer. In anticipation of the group's exclusive Laneway appearance in Australia next year, we take a look at the assortment of tools used by BADBADNOTGOOD as they continue to mould the shape of jazz to come.
A bit of an oddity from the 70's, the Gibson Grabber features a weird Flying-V style headstock, as well as a moveable humbucker and a maple fretboard. Chester Hansen typically uses this bass with a foam mute as his main studio weapon, revealing his love for the instrument in an interview with Smart Bass Guitar, as well as his setup preferences: "I almost always play my Gibson Grabber - the frets and fretboard are totally worn out and it's all dinged up and I love it. I use the thickest flatwound strings I can find as far off the neck as possible."
A mainstay in Hansen's bass ensemble, this vintage 1972 Gibson EB-4L appears frequently across BBNG's last two studio projects. Featuring one beefy humbucker, you can hear Hansen lay down the low end with this one in this performance of 'Kaleidoscope' from their studio album III.
FENDER PRECISION BASS
Before acquiring his Gibson Grabber, Hansen used a recent model Fender Precision Bass, fitted out with active pickups and a gold anodised pickguard, which can be seen in the band's cover of Kanye West's 'Flashing Lights' at Hillside in 2012.
Upon receiving an endorsement from the Manhattan based instrument company, Hansen has been spotted using a hollow body D'Angelico Excel, featuring a flamed top and two humbuckers.
Amps wise, Hansen tends to keep things simple, telling Smart Bass Guitar, "Live, I usually use a Gallien-Krueger 800/700 RB with an 8x10 GK cab. For rehearsing and local gigs I have a GK Fusion 500 with a CX 4x10 Cab."
KORG SV-1 STAGE VINTAGE PIANO
With the exception of live piano recorded in the studio, most of the piano, Rhodes, Clavinet and organ sounds used by Matthew Taveres come from the Korg SV-1. Featuring a built in 12AX7 valve and a whole bunch of amp models, effects and equalisers, the Korg SV-1 is seriously all you need to achieve just about any classic keyboard sound, as demonstrated by Taveres in BADBADNOTGOOD's early rendition of A Tribe Called Quest's 'Electric Relaxation'.
DAVE SMITH INSTRUMENTS PROPHET '08
Taveres often plays the powerful analogue Prophet '08 as his main synthesiser with BADBADNOTGOOD, using the widely adored synth for a variety of strings, pad and brass sounds heard across their albums.
The archetype of all synthesisers, Tavares has recently started using a vintage Juno-106 instead of his Dave Smith Prophet, which can be seen in the above Like a Version of the band's Kaytranada collaboration, 'Lavender'. Fun fact: Snoop Dogg released a remix of this track earlier in the year, backed by a music video of Snoop shooting a clown version of Donald Trump. Interesting...
As BADBADNOTGOOD's dedicated bandleader, Alex Sowinski oversees the musical direction from behind a Ludwig Maple Sky Blue Kit. Featuring a 14" tom, 18" floor tom and a 26" kick, Sowinski tends to experiment with a variety of hardware and different snares, and also employs a mixture of brushes, mallets and drumsticks to add extra jazzy flourishes throughout their tracks.
Sowinski also uses a Roland SPDS drum pad for triggering samples and playing electronic drum sounds, which can be seen in the above image from Hypebeast's Musical Essentials series.
A recent addition to BADBADNOTGOOD, Leland Whitty previously featured as a saxophonist on the first three BBNG releases before being added as a full time member for their latest LP IV, playing guitars, vibraphone, and violin.
In the above video of BADBADNOTGOOD performing a rendition of Future Islands' 'Seasons (Waiting on You)' featuring vocalist Samuel Herring, you can see Whitty playing a vintage 60's Harmony Meteor.
Similarly, Whitty can be spotted playing a D'Angelico Excel Series DC in their rendition of Florida rapper Denzel Curry's huge tune 'Ultimate'.
You can also check out Whitty's impressive sax chops in the below studio session documenting the recording of the band's latest LP IV, which features the genius, lung-defying session musician Colin Stetson somehow making his saxophone sound like an arpeggiator on a synthesiser. This is seriously wild stuff.