Conversation with master of electric and acoustic bass, whose gigs have included everything from retro-hipster funk to Chris Botti (and everything in between!)
A native of Foxboro, Massachusetts, Tim Lefebvre plays both electric and acoustic bass. He has performed and/or toured with a diverse list of artists, including Wayne Krantz, Chris Botti, Oz Noy, Elvis Costello, Patti Austin, John Mayer, Sting, Bette Midler, Les McCann, Michael Franks and many others. Tim has laid down bass tracks for the films Oceans 12, Oceans 13, The Departed, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle and Analyze That and TV shows The Apprentice, The Sopranos and 30 Rock. He has also subbed in the house bands of Saturday Night Live and The Late Show with David Letterman. Tim currently performs in retrohipster funk-jazz band Rudder, as well as other projects.
FBPO: Tell me about your musical upbringing.
TL: Well, I started in my middle school band as a saxophonist. My teacher, Ted Hagerty, moved me down the clefs, from alto to tenor to bari, to go along with my interest in bass.
FBPO: How did you become interested in the bass?
TL: I used to play along with AC/DC, Rush and Van Halen records when I was young. When my dad, Spike, also a middle school music teacher, noticed that when I picked up my sister’s guitar I was playing single notes and not chords, he declared me a bass player!
FBPO: Your resume covers such a broad array of gigs, on both electric and upright, from film and TV to funk, pop, electronic and more. What were your aspirations when you were first starting out?
TL: I wanted to play with the most bad-assed guys in New York! I visited the city a few times during college and it just felt like home to me. It took a looooong time to make it happen. I really wanted to be doing the top gigs in New York, but didn’t think they were within reach. Then suddenly they were. It just unfolded nicely.
FBPO: Can you pinpoint a specific gig or two that got your career kick started?
TL: A cruise ship gig in Florida was the origin of it all. The house drummer was Peter Davenport, a great New York drummer. He was good friends with Zach Danziger, who came on a cruise shortly after recording Wayne Krantz’s Long to be Loose record, a tour de force, in my humble opinion. When he sat in with the band, it blew my mind how good he was. He was the one who convinced me to move to New York. He got me on so many gigs and we worked together for so long. He really was instrumental in getting my career airborne.
FBPO: You seemed to have gotten fairly well established on the east coast. What made you decide to up and move to LA? Wasn’t that a bit risky?
TL: God knows I don’t like feeling too comfortable with things! [Laughs] It was totally risky for me to try L.A., but a lot of people encouraged me to give it a try. Something inside told me to do it, so here I am!
FBPO: Tell me about playing with Chris Botti. How did that gig come about?
TL: Chris and I initially worked together on the Caroline Rhea Show, a daytime TV talk show that lasted one year, 2003. I was MD and he was the spokesperson, chatting up Caroline and her guests. When Chris needed another guy to fill the bass chair in his band in 2006, he called me. I’ve done the gig on and off since then.
FBPO: I bet Rudder is a whole different vibe from Chris Botti.
TL: Only because of the more improvisatory nature of Rudder. Chris’ gig is one you can play on, but only within certain parameters.
FBPO: What else is keeping you busy these days?
TL: I have been writing some jingles and I’m always looking for artists to collaborate with for productions. I’ve produced quite a few tracks and records. I really enjoy that and would like to do more of it.
FBPO: What lies ahead for you and your career? What else would you like to do that you haven’t accomplished yet?
TL: All good things! I have a small bucket list: sub for Pino Palladino or Darryl Jones on some gigs, play with Sting on a real gig (I did so with Chris Botti’s band), score a film with my writing partners and have a steady income from writing music.
FBPO: What would you be if you weren’t a bass player?
TL: I would be in politics or sports writing or commentating.
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Darryl Jones, who is mentioned here: