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Press, Reviews, Endorsements - Norm Stockton

Norm Stockton Clinic
UK's Bass Guitar Magazine

Article by Rob Ashton

After a successful appearance at the Frankfurt Musikmesse trade fair, US bass player Norm Stockton jetted into London to conduct an intimate bass clinic. Stockton has recently released his solo debut album, Pondering the Sushi, an eclectic collection of 13 tunes spanning jazz, fusion, funk, Latin and classical influences. Highlights include the Marcus Miller-esque thumb-groove of ‘The Race’ and a beautiful, haunting and sparse rendition of The Police’s ‘Roxanne’.

Stockton is a touring clinician for MTD Basses (Michael Tobias Design) and Maranatha! Music, a contemporary worship organization. At Frankfurt he became one of the growing number of bass players endorsing EBS equipment.

The London clinic focused on ‘common-sense’ techniques and tips for working bass players and the many ‘wannabe’s’ going through the home practice routine. Stockton’s emphasis majored on simplicity – listen to what the other band members are playing, don’t fill the silence for the sake of it (“sometimes more is just more!”) and concentrate on phrasing and dynamics. In the section on dynamics, he skillfully showed the audience how to create impact through the use of hard and soft fingerstyle playing, slap style and palm muting techniques. Whilst slap playing is often used as a ‘one-trick’ pony technique in whole songs, Stockton showed how it could be very effective used sparingly alongside other styles. The message was clear – fingers control volume much better than the controls on your bass or your amp!

Simple, but vitally important issues in achieving a clean sound, such as right-hand muting, were demonstrated in an instructive way with a humorous, light touch. Try this tip yourself. Mute the E with the thumb when playing A. When you move to D, mute the A with the tip of the thumb and mute the E with the side of your thumb at the same time. This really cleans up those ringing, open strings, which can muddy up your sound.

For those unfortunate to miss the show, Stockton has released two excellent instructional videos, titled Grooving for Heaven, Parts 1 and 2. Covering a range of topics from simple hand positioning to a thorough analysis of intervallic modes with Norm’s comments on how these elements fit into the role of worship bass. They’re available in both PAL and NTSC formats. But you can win both of his videos just by answering this simple question. What does Norman ponder on his latest CD? Check out the man and his music at www.normstockton.com

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