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Angeline Saris walks through her favorite bass tunes, talks heroes and details the gear behind her funk fusion sound

Angeline Saris
(Image credit: Matt Granz)

What was your way into bass guitar, Angeline? 

“I started playing bass in our high school jazz band when I was 15 years old. We were lucky enough to have one of those special teachers who goes the extra mile. He booked our band on a handful of cruise ships where Joe Henderson, Les McCann and Roy Hargrove were playing. I remember being 16 years old and watching them perform, totally transfixed. It was a magical time in my life and also the root of my love affair with the bass, jazz, and all things music.”   

What was your first bass guitar? 

“A 1979 Musicman Sabre. I still have it." 

Which other basses have you played since then? 

"I have a pretty nice arsenal that includes four Fenders – an American Deluxe FMT, an American Elite, a Precision and a fretless – a Warwick custom shop electric upright, a Sadowsky NYC 5, a Marleaux Consat Soprano, a Kala U-Bass and a Shen upright acoustic. They are all in constant rotation depending on what the gig calls for.”   

What bass gear do you currently use? 

“My main electric is my American Deluxe Jazz, and my go-to upright is a custom shop Warwick that I co-designed. Working with Warwick on it was a fantastic experience. For amplification, I use Fender. I have a Super Bassman Pro 300-watt tube head with an 810 Neo for bigger shows and tours. For smaller shows and more local gigs, I use my 550 Rumble head paired with my 410 Neo.”  

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given about playing bass? 

“Learn to play with the click on two and four.” 

Which bass player do you most admire? 

“There are so many bass players I admire for their unique voice and contributions. It’s tough to narrow it down to one, but if I had to, it would be Pino Palladino. His versatility really stands out to me, as it is something I encounter in my own career. 

“He plays so authentically across a broad spectrum of genres, his pocket is undeniably deep, and he always seems to find the perfect balance of being supportive yet tasty. Plus, he strikes me as someone whose heart and spirit are in the right place. I think that matters in music.”   

As live music slowly returns, where will we hear you play? 

Normally, you’d see me out on the road with the Narada Michael Walden Band, Ernest Ranglin, and my own collaborative funk fusion dance project, Angelex. Right now, the best place to hear me is on the last two releases with Angelex. 

“One of my favorite tracks off the Tight Lips album is Top Down, which features a Larry Graham-inspired bass-line that I wrote. You could also take a listen to one of the four albums I’ve recorded with the Narada Michael Walden Band. The odd-time 9/8 fusion classic Cosmic Strut from the Rising Sun album easily remains one of my faves to this day. 

The Poor Shall Inherit The Earth from Immortality is a gorgeous tune that I felt would be best supported by my fretless in drop D tuning. Thunder Angel Funk from Thunder totally encapsulates the fire of Jimi Hendrix, the Oakland funk vibe, and the spirit of the band at that time just before our Japan tour. 

“Last but certainly not least, I spent seven years with an all-female Led Zeppelin tribute band called Zepparella. To hear my JPJ-inspired bass-lines, I’d suggest checking out Zepparella’s self-titled album. I’m popping back into the studio next week to record some tracks for my own project, so I’ll have more to share in the coming months.”  

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