TAL WILKENFELD

30 August 2009

[Pictue of Tal Wilkenfeld playing bass guitar]The buzz about Tal Wilkenfeld is that she is (a) a bassist; (b) young; (c) female; (d) good looking; and (e) Australian.

I find all that a bit silly to be frank. That she is such a talent is enough — it is merely a matter of secondary interest that she is a girl.

Maybe the surprise is not that she’s a girl, but that a girl got the breaks and made it to the top.

Is she Good-looking? Well, I think she is — and so do loads of commenters on YouTube and forums — but I don’t think she thinks she is good-looking — and I like that even more. She does not dress up, she’s no Candy Dulfer, no high heels, no split skirt. No, Tal wears trainers or boots, jeans and a tee shirt. No make-up. No need. And she makes goofy faces and just generally seems not very self-aware.

In short, she reminds me a LOT of my bass-playing wife!

I had heard there was a buzz in the scene, and I went to see her play with Jeff Beck in Glasgow — and she was superb. I must say, though, that I have been more “blown Away” with stuff I have seen her play on YouTube.

embedded video from Youtube

For example, I have two recordings of Angel’s Footsteps on Jeff Beck albums, and they are both live — one is 22 July 2006 in Japan, the other is the Official USA Bootleg version also from 2006 — and I’m afraid that Tal’s version on YouTube kicks both of them out of the park. After hearing how Tal connects with Vinnie and the rest of the band, Pino Palladino’s work pales considerably — and that is no mean feat; Pino was in Jools Holland’s band and is the bassist with The Who, so he’s no fool.

I was discussing this recently, and it seems that Jeff Beck’s band was mostly British, despite what the names sound like; Jason Rebello is an English keyboard wiz., Pino Palladino is Welsh!

Having an American Rhythm section would change the band too much (the drummer, Vinnie Colaiuta, is American), so Tal, being Australian, could therefore be the perfect fit — enough American, but still a bit British somehow, still slightly on the outside of the native scene.

But all that speculation aside, she has talent — and more to the point she blends perfectly into the band. Pino — IMHO — just did not connect as well as Tal. Listen to the dropped beats, the missed timings, the misunderstandings — they are all there on record.

Embedded Video from YouTube:

How delicious is THAT clip? (I already linked to it on my Jeff Beck post) — her licks, her connection to the Jeff on entering the bridge, the serious connection with Vinnie’s ticking rolls, the build-up, paradiddles, she’s so instinctive in support, and also in fills in the gaps and push-pulls with the timing — and she seems to add chemistry, fun, to the band! And that brings out the best in them.

Can I just say that I cannot get enough of this video, I must listen to it once every day or so, and I appreciate it more each time.

So while I can see why her being Australian works with the band, I don’t see it as important out of that context. In other words, it should only be mentioned when others’ nationalities/ backgrounds/ cultures are mentioned; in itself it’s nothing.

There are plenty of female bass players — Carol Kaye, Suzi Quatro, Jackie Fox, Tina Weymouth, Julie Slick, etc., but what makes Tal different is that she’s exceptionally talented as a jazz bassist; she has her own voice.

Now, a lot of people compare her to Jaco Pastorius, and that’s daft; Jaco invented stuff, played fretless and so on. But it’s something to be mentioned in that kind of company, it’s enough to have debates about that — no one in their right mind would do that with Julie Slick or Tina Weymouth.

  • To me, Tal does Jeff Berlin better than Jeff Berlin; she’s got a better sensitivity to the overall work and to the band.

If she wants she can sometimes evoke Jaco’s phrasing such as at the beginning of this  Live Freeway Jam with Jeff Beck:

Embedded Video from YouTube:

Transformation‘ is the name of Tal’s debut album. It is fabulous — just go and get a copy; you will wear it out listening to it. I love it! Tal is amazing and Wayne Krantz’s guitar is superbly “out of the box”.

Regarding her age — I find that part really annoying. What age was Jaco Pastorius, Hendrix, Clapton et al when they  were at their peaks? That’s right – in their early 2os. So give her a break!

Tal is a great bassist, definitely the world’s best ever female bass-player, the best bass player produced by Oz, and one of the world’s best bass players around today.

She’s also not hard on the eye.

Go Tal!

Embedded Video from YouTube:

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3 Responses to “TAL WILKENFELD”


  1. […] Tal Wilkenfeld got herself going on the cheeky bass line start to “You Never Know”.  She’s a […]


  2. […] while, listening to Vai, Holdsworth, and the jazz theme continued for summer with Hiromi Uehara and Tal Wilkenfeld — and any need for classical for Autumn, and this was met in the form of Danielle de Niese or […]

  3. gARDWEN Says:

    This is one where the internet lets you down. s
    Some of your video links are dead now. That’s sad because you were describing stuff that could help young bass players. Love and b\less


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