I'm a Electric Bass and Double-Bass player, working since 23 years as live player and studio sessions. I played on more than 50 productions as player, arranger and composer. I worked with Bobby Durham, Jimmy Cobb, Benny Golson, Archie Shepp, Albert "Tootie" Heat, Mickey Roker, Paul Jeffrey, Hal Singer, Jesse Davis, Eliot Zigmund, Joe De Francesco
I think the reason of my professional success is my wish to get into the deep feeling of the music I'm playing and, expecially with singers, to get the message of the song. Playing a good line is not only a technical effort, but mostly a matter of understanding. I'm working with a few singers for years, following their artistic development and stay along their goals, always updating my view of the project, according to their vision. And I learned a lot in this way!
I'm confident with Jazz, Blues, Rock & Funk, as you can hear through the samples.
I was touring with blues singers like James Thompson, Arthur Miles, Ben "the king" Perkoff, with jazz legends like Benny Golson, Archie Sheep, Paul Jeffrey. 6 years ago I moved to Berlin and I'm join the european scene playing acoustic and electric bass.
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Interview with Carmelo Leotta
Q: Tell us about a project you worked on you are especially proud of and why. What was your role?
A: Some years ago I played on the record of Vince Vallicelli, an italian drummer I was working with at the beginning of my career. It was incredible how fast we get into the music, talking about other things. I should have played a bass line, ad the end I overdubbed a double bass and cellos ensemble! That was a great day.
Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: I'm getting ready for some festivals I should play this summer, writing pieces for my new record, and I'm writing a string arrangement for a singer I work with since many years.
Q: Is there anyone on SoundBetter you know and would recommend to your clients?
A: I get to SoundBetter thanks to my friend and great drummer Yatziv Caspi.
Q: Analog or digital and why?
A: Analog sources (instruments, effects, preamps), because the act of playing should be spontaneous, and analog tools are better to get the immediacy of playing. Digital recording, because it's much easier to manage the material and, with the actual tools, nothing is missing of the warmth of the analog.
Q: What's your 'promise' to your clients?
A: I will listen to you. I will be inspired from your vision.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: My job is a way to meet people and understand, every time, a bit more of the human nature.
Q: What questions do customers most commonly ask you? What's your answer?
A: Every kind of questions! Witch instrument is better for this, witch record we can take as reference, should we elaborate the sound with effects... Like I said, if the message of the song is clear, than it's easy to find a solution to every doubts.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about what you do?
A: Actually it never happen to me to go through misconception. I think because I always gave a lot of importance to personal contact with the people I worked with.
Q: What questions do you ask prospective clients?
A: What I need to know to do a proper job, is witch feeling should the music give. Thank you can go deeper, talking about the messages. Personal messages, political, spiritual...
Q: If you were on a desert island and could take just 5 pieces of gear, what would they be?
A: I don't need 5. I take just the Double Bass and... the Precision.
Q: What was your career path? How long have you been doing this?
A: I play bass since I was 14, and, well, it's a long time ago! At the age of 24 I became a professional player. I started out playing electric bass in blues bands all around Italy, in the biggest Blues festivals of the country. In the while, I bought a double bass and I get down practising on it. I was hired as a side man by famous italian singers as Massimo Bubola and Eugenio Finardi, with whom I had a big spot. In 2005 I met Bobby Durham and I joined the trio with him and Massimo Faraò until Durham sadly passed away, in 2008. Then I stayed on the high level italian jazz scene, frequently touring with Huge american jazz musician as Archie Sheep, Benny Golson, Jimmy Cobb, Mickey Rocker, Michelle Hendrix and many others. In the while I wrote a lot of music and recorded four records as a leader, for small bands as far as for septet and big band. About my didactic activity, I assisted Buster Williams and others american bass players during workshops I had always regularly taught in music schools and privately, looking after electric bass, upright bass students and combo classes. In 2014 I moved to Berlin, where I actually live, and was right away involved in many international musical projects.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: I'm an honest player, I like to go deep in the sound, concentrating the message even in one note. Because the sound can say everything.
Q: Which artist would you like to work with and why?
A: I like to work with people that got something to say. Not just go along the fashion.
Q: Can you share one music production tip?
A: I'm not a producer. I'm a bass player, arranger and composer, but I worked with great producers, and I learned that the best thing that you can get from the musicians is what they do by them self, inspired from the music. So the more you communicate with the music itself, the better it goes.
Q: What type of music do you usually work on?
A: Jazz, blues, songwriters. I did a big job (250 songs!) arranging recording classical pieces for a jazz piano trio.
Q: What's your strongest skill?
A: I get most of the jobs because of my sound.
Q: What do you bring to a song?
A: When I'm free to decide how to create a bass line, I put all my experience there, and I try to mix elements in a new way. If I move to far from the intentions of the producer i'm always ready to move back to the tradition. I think it's good to try to give always a creative lift to the music, according to the goals of the production.
Q: What's your typical work process?
A: I like to listen to the songs that I should play on for one or two days, just to have the music in my mind. In this way, in my experience is much easier to face the recording, because I already unconsciously developed the bass line and how the bass should sound on that, or the string arrangement, the melody... The missing part that I should provide.
Q: Tell us about your studio setup.
A: I recorded most of my records with an handmade italian double bass (Gianmaria Assandri). I use a german bow. The electric bass that I use mostly is a Fender Precision Bass, 2003, Pick up Seymour Duncan 1. Than I use an Fender Jazz Bass 1972, a handmade Fretless Bass Luk (Berlin liuther), a LTD 6 strings and an acoustic fretless Harper bass. To record I use a MacPro, Logic pro, Scarlett 2i2 sound card, Focusrite sound card.
Q: What other musicians or music production professionals inspire you?
A: Working with other people can inspire you to do like you never thought that it could work. I love to be inspired, and be influenced from other's visions is for me the joy of learning.
Q: Describe the most common type of work you do for your clients.
A: I have a long experience in studio recording. I played in more than 50 records as bass and double bass player. In band-projects the most important thing is understand what the music requires. Working with producers is furthermore a psychological issue, because you got to get what THEY want the music to be.