Session Men Extraordinaire
When I moved to Boston in 1967 to attend the Berklee College of Music, I went to an audition for an eight-piece blues band, and met Andy Pratt, singer, songwriter, pianist, bassist, and guitarist. We eventually formed a trio called Butter and played some Cream, Hendrix, The Who, even some Motown, at venues including The Boston Tea Party. Andy and I and some other Boston musicians recorded Records Are Like Life around 1967 and ’68 for Polydor Records; it was my first time in the studio. Fast forward to 1973 during the recording sessions for the Andy Pratt album Andy Pratt for Columbia Records, at Aengus Studios just outside of Boston. I was in contact with Abraham Laboriel, bass player extraordinaire, whom I had met while attending Berklee. I invited him to play on a few of Andy’s songs. These would be the first sessions Abe did in the States, although he was already a well-known musician in Mexico City. I’d heard Abe’s playing while we were both at Berklee and I couldn’t believe what an incredible bass player he was… and still is! Abraham was already a phenomenon and he had just started his amazing career. He went on to play with a Who’s Who of contemporary musicians, but Abe’s awareness of others, his generosity of spirit, and his ability to spread that generosity through his playing was evident even back then. Quite simply, Abe brings out the best in people, and he’s full of surprises. Witness one day while Andy and I were talking to John Nagy, our producer, during one of the sessions. We heard someone playing some amazing acoustic guitar. It totally blew us away… we were spell-bound and stood there speechless with our collective jaws on the floor. Confusion reigned. It was Abraham playing a guitar, not a bass. He had picked up Andy’s Martin and was playing some classical guitar parts that were just astonishing. When Abe was done, he looked up kind of sheepishly and said, “Guitar is really my first instrument. My father is a classical guitar teacher in Mexico City.” You could have knocked us over with a feather!
Editor’s Note: Guitar Player Magazine called Abraham Laboriel “the most widely used session bassist of our time,” having played on over 4,000 recordings and soundtracks. His son Abe Laboriel Jr. continues the family musical tradition as a drummer, and has backed Paul McCartney on every tour since 2001.
Rick Shlosser played in Van Morrison‘s band in the early ’70s and went on to a long career as a session musician for his own Who’s Who of musicians including: Eric Andersen, George Benson, Cher, Stanley Clarke, Maynard Ferguson, Art Garfunkel, Gilberto Gil, Ronnie Hawkins, Janis Ian, Etta James, Nicolette Larson, Little Feat, Barry Manilow, Ronnie Montrose, Maria Muldaur, Juice Newton, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Billy Preston, Lionel Richie, Linda Ronstadt, Diana Ross, Dusty Springfield, Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand, James Taylor, Tanya Tucker and Link Wray.
Published on March 6, 2014