Still. Life.

Jon released a new album and I am loving it. For years I have been telling everyone willing to listen (Ha! that probably means you can find it on this blog somewhere) that the best thing that could possibly come out of this era of musicians getting squeezed by Silicon Valley would be that they make the music they want to make… because when it’s not likely that we can make money, we might as well make something that we want to hear… without considering what an audience might want or how to promote a song for radio etc.etc…

This album is 100% Jon Gagan. He even took the photo himself! You absolutely do not have to be a bass player or bass aficionado to enjoy these pieces! Play these tracks and read what he wrote about the recording. I think you will agree, it absolutely lovely. 

Still. Life. is a collection of sketches that were done on electric bass between 2020 and 2024.

With each piece, I began by simply recording whatever came to me in the moment. I would then overdub another bass part or two and in some cases add Rhodes or percussion, often using the bass as a percussion instrument or source of a sound effect.

During the shutdown in 2020, my daily rhythm became one of waking up at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning and playing bass in the studio until the sun came up. I kept something of this habit in subsequent years, and Still. Life. was recorded during this time of day.
With the work having been done in the pre dawn hours it didn’t surprise me when I noticed a certain calm quality emerge as a theme from piece to piece. Without planning it, I realized I had been able to express the feeling of unhurriedness that was emblematic of the pause in the rush of modern life for me.


I walked exactly three miles. First I listened to rough mixes Jon sent last night. Upright bass for two of the Rain Music pieces. The bass sounds amazing in his hands. The man is at the top of his game. The notes speak of experience and life and depth… no notes for the sake of playing notes. What will we sound like in ten years? I am reminded of the words of Pau Casals who, when asked why he was still practicing cello daily at age 80, replied Because I think I am making progress.

I do believe I am making progress. I like where music leads me. As age slows my body down, I can, perhaps, imbue each note with more of something. One has to acknowledge the changes. When it is hot outside, wear shorts. When it’s raining, wear a hat and a waterproof jacket. When young play as many notes as you like. It might help you to explore. When old concentrate on the notes that really mean something. Move toward depth and essence.

After the Rain Music I listened to an audiobook called On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong. Very poetic and very sad. Those two often go hand in hand, don’t they, the poetic and the sad?

East Coast – Day 9

Today we drove from Richmond to Annapolis for the performance at the Rams Head.

Jon hasn’t used an amp on stage in years. These are the DIs (Direct Input) boxes he plugs his fretless bass guitar and the upright bass into.

Question : Answer – Upright Bass

Steve asked what I know about the upright bass, seen in this post.

It’s a Chadwick folding upright bass. Jon has been playing the folding bass since 2015. It makes traveling so much easier and is a big reason why we do perform with the upright again. Well, it also sounds really good. We can fly with it and at other times it gets shipped via FedEx.

Unfortunately Chadwick no longer produces the bass – see this.

In 2015, before settling on the Chadwick, Jon tried this one. It didn’t sound as good.

East Coast, Day 6

Today is a travel/rest day. Next show is in Richmond, VA, on Wednesday. When I went to the coffeeshop in the hotel around 0800 I was given a free cup of coffee. Nice. I think they mistook me for Jon, who has coffee very early in the morning, and gave me his free refill. Old guy, grey hair, brings his own Snow Peak cup – they all look alike. :-)

Will he go for a refill himself and hear that they only give out one free refill and he needs to pay for his third cup??? Stay tuned.

East Coast, Day 4

Today we drove to Norwalk to play at the Wall Street theater. But first we drove to Stamford, a little further down the road, to go to a Ramen joint we know there. After a late lunch of big bowls of ramen we drove to our destination. The venue was new to us, a beautiful old theater. As we got ready for soundcheck I took this photo of Jon: