Lawrence Haber is a new acquaintance who has been making a name for himself on the New Jersey music scene. Fads come and go, but if you are a musician, things like reading music, preparedness, and being on time never go out of style. In an age when young bassists aspire to become influencers on Instagram, Lawrence has decided to focus on becoming a respected working musician by satisfying the needs of his clients, whatever the situation. Know Your Bass Player has always been associated with world-class players deserving broader recognition. Still, in my view, the best aspect of KYBP is the stories about the working bass players of the tri-state area and what it takes to make a living in today’s challenging environment. I am pleased to introduce Lawrence Haber to the readers of Know Your Bass Player.
When and where were you born?
I was born in 1982 in Brooklyn, NY.
Did you study music in college? I am curious as to your educational background and specific teachers who guided you, not limited to only music teachers.
Although I took several music classes while studying Communication and Psychology at Rutgers University, my formal music education began in high school, studying privately with an incredible instructor named Joe Macaro. Joe studied Jazz at Berklee College of Music as well as Classical at New England Conservatory. Joe has played professional gigs on Electric Bass and Double Bass since the 1960s. We studied lesson plans from Charlie Banacos on both instruments, Charlie Parker solos from the Omnibook, classical repertoire with the bow from his time as a student of Bill Curtis, and many other formal methods. I learned ear training, functional piano, reading, improvisation, and many other core areas that made me the professional player I have been since 2003, when I began gigging full-time (the ultimate education). I also credit my father, Jeff, who introduced me to all kinds of music as a child, music appreciation is also critical to becoming a well-rounded player with a full musical bibliography. I have also studied privately with Gerald Veasley, John “JD” Di Servio, and most recently Evan Marien, helping me with an artistic concept beyond the bass.
Did your family support your decision to study music at the college level?
My family supported my decision to pursue a music education with love and respect. My father suggested Joe as an instructor because he knew Joe would guide me both professionally and artistically. My father is a DJ and always encouraged me to listen to music with intent and curiosity. He also helped open doors for me to build my network.
Do you make your entire living playing music? What are the various types of gigs that you do?
Since 2003 I have played 50-200 professional gigs a year, but I also work for an incredible music program called Music Together as a Licensing Manager. I also do a good deal of professional recording and teach privately. Most of my professional live gigs come in the form of corporate events and private parties such as weddings, clubs, and restaurants. Bands in those settings mostly play Top 40, but I also play straight-ahead jazz gigs, original singer/songwriter gigs, and the occasional theater pit gig.
Who influenced you coming up regarding bassists that caught your ear? When you listen today, do your early bass influences measure up to your perceptions of them when you were young?
The first bassist that caught my interest was John Entwistle from The Who. His attitude and intent struck me, and he had a beautiful presence both sonically on recordings and live on-stage with the band. Louis Johnson’s tone and rhythmic approach excited me to dig in more, bringing me to Marcus Miller, one of my major heroes as a sideman bassist and composer/producer. Like many young players, I would sing along to Paul McCartney’s melodic lines. I loved Motown and R& B growing up, so James Jamerson and Anthony Jackson quickly became the standards I wanted to pursue once I understood their contributions to pivotal recordings. Joe introduced me to Jaco, who changed everything and made me want to understand jazz harmony, tone production, composition, and improvisation. On Upright, I was floored by Scott La Faro’s lyrical approach and Ron Carter’s command of time and sound. I appreciate my early bass influences more and more every year. I still transcribe them to gain insight into the details of their playing.
Are there any bass players or musicians in general that inspire you today?
In addition to my teachers, Hadrien Feraud and Janek Gwizdala are two of the most important living bass players. Both have incredible facilities but use their technique to create gorgeous musical landscapes. Pino Palladino and John Patitucci constantly push boundaries and have beautiful things to say about the bass. Every time I hear them play, I smile and want to pick up the instrument. I want to use this opportunity to shout out some local musicians whose playing influences me whenever I can perform with them or initiate a conversation. Guitarist Michael Vanderweerd is one of my closest musical associates and friends. Mike plays guitar like Stevie
Ray Vaughan and sings like Ray Charles. He is the most soulful person I know. He has given me countless opportunities to play paying gigs with great players. Richie Monica is a world-class drummer who taught me a lot about how to conduct myself early in my career and how to listen. He never held back the truth about my playing and schools me to this day when I’m not on my game. Stephen Bard is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and songwriter who knows more about delivering a clear musical statement than anyone I have ever met. He is a prolific musical creator who consistently produces fantastic original music and is a blast to play with on live gigs. I am blessed.
When I went back to school from 2008 to 2017, I aimed to teach history or social studies at either a public or a charter school. This changed when I consulted with some of my friends who have been educators for many years. They informed me that changes in the education system and the advent of Common Core standards pushed them into early retirement, and if I had any ideas about teaching with my own style in my effort to change the world one student at a time, I should reconsider teaching.
Similarly, I feel the same obligation to be honest when young musicians ask for my advice regarding a music career. It is more challenging to survive playing music today than in past eras. Reality is not negativity; I am obligated to young musicians to clarify this. If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring bassists, what would you tell them?
Always go back to the fundamentals while remaining curious about where your tastes can lead you. This combination will continuously inspire you to grow as a bass player, musician, and human. Also, play upright, write your own music, and sing!
Lawrence Haber: Electric/Upright Bass Player, Music Educator/Clinician, GHS Strings Endorsing Artist, Genzler Endorsing Artist, Bartolini Emerging Artist, Master Strap Artist https://www.lawrencehabermusic.com/