Lincoln Goines

Veteran doubler and Berklee bass prof tells FBPO about his immersion into the latin jazz scene, long-time gig with Dave Valentin, teaching tips and more.

Exclusive interview with FBPO’s Jon Liebman
February 20, 2012

In addition to his long-time roles as bass player for flutist Dave Valentin and guitarist Mike Stern, Lincoln Goines has performed with Sonny Rollins, Michael Brecker, Carly Simon, Tania Maria, Dizzy Gillespie, Bob Mintzer, Michel Camilo, Eliane Elias and countless others. Goines is the co-author, along with drummer Robby Ameen, of the popular Funkifying The Clave: Afro-Cuban Grooves for Bass and Drums. In addition to his performing and recording schedules, Lincoln is a faculty member of the Collective and City College of New York, as well as Associate Professor of Bass at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.

FBPO: How would you describe your musical upbringing?

LG: My parents were both music lovers and encouraged creativity. As a child of the ’60s, I soaked in everything I was exposed to, from Bach to James Brown.

FBPO: What made you gravitate to the bass?

LG: The sound. I always heard and felt the focus and groove coming from the bottom in all genres of music. When I was 15, Jack Bruce, Jack Casady and Noel Redding were my heroes.

FBPO: Tell me something you learned from Eddie Gomez and/or Gary Karr that you still find helpful today.

LG: Eddie inspired me by his relaxed but intensely focused and creative approach to teaching and playing. It is an ideal I continue to strive for. Gary showed me some simple but challenging arco exercises that I still use. I learned from both of them that even the baddest virtuosos warm up with scales and simple patterns!

FBPO: It must have taken a lot of courage to relocate to New York City back in the ’70s. Did you have anything lined up ahead of time or did you just decide to go for it?

LG: Yes, and yes. At the time, I was playing in a band that included keyboardist Steve Gaboury and drummer Kim Plainfield in the San Francisco Bay Area. Kim was getting married in New York and we decided to give the East Coast a try. I was 22 and fearless. Steve is now Cindy Lauper’s MD and Kim is still playing and touring, as well as an Associate Professor at Berklee.

FBPO: While you have a reputation as a solid jazz and funk player, you’ve also gotten heavily immersed in the Latin jazz scene. How did that come to be?

LG: I’ve always had a love and aptitude for the Latin groove. In New York, it turned out to be one of the things you had to know to be on the scene. If you could play a tumbao, you could get a gig, regardless of your background. I dove right in and also did some studying and hanging with Andy Gonzalez, Sal Cuevas, Joe Santiago and a bunch of other cats.

FBPO: I’ve always loved the Funkifying the Clave tutorial you wrote with Robby Ameen. How would you describe it for those not familiar with it? What inspired you and Robby to do it?

LG: Thanks! In the book – and DVD – Robby and I are using Afro-Cuban music as a departure point into other styles, demonstrating how to apply folkloric elements to jazz, funk and rock. In the early ’90s, after gigging and touring together in New York, Puerto Rico and Cuba, we wrote it with the help and encouragement of the Latin music community. At the time there was nothing like it on the market.

FBPO: You and Dave Valentin go back a long way. How did you first get that gig?

LG: I met Dave at a party/performance event in Manhattan in 1978. He was young and crazy and so was I. He had just finished recording his first album for GRP and was putting together a touring band and asked me to come to his house in the Bronx to jam. To date, I have played bass on twelve of his albums. Now we’re both old and crazy!

FBPO: You’ve undoubtedly taught so many students over the years. Naturally, technique, grooving, musicality, etc., are vital. If there’s a trend, though, where do you feel today’s students need the most work? Conversely, where do they tend to exhibit the most strength?

LG: I see a trend with many students to focus too much on one style or aspect of their playing. I stress diversity and tell them to keep their ears and their spirit open to all kinds of music and never turn their noses up at anything because, at some point, they’ll find a use for it. Conversely, one of the great benefits of teaching is the tremendous amount of stuff I learn from my students!

FBPO: What’s keeping you busy these days?

LG: My two full days of teaching at Berklee, in addition to working with students privately and at the Collective and City College in New York. I have several gigs, tours and some recording coming up this year with Michel Camilo, Bob Mintzer, Dave Valentin, Dave Samuels, Sheryl Bailey, Tim Miller, Portinho and a few other folks. I have a few charts on my music stand at home I need to study!

FBPO: What else lies ahead for you and your career? What else would you like to do that you haven’t accomplished yet?

LG: I don’t ever want to stop playing and I’m never going to be satisfied. I want to stay hungry, intense, and innocent.

FBPO: What would you be if you weren’t a bass player?

LG: Probably a graphic artist. I apprenticed with my older brother, David Lance Goines, before the music took off. I could also teach Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan. I’ve been doing it a few years now.

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