Cliff Erickson

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About Cliff Erickson

Cliff EricksonCliff Erickson's musical life started in a junior high school orchestra in the San Francisco Bay area. He started playing the acoustic contrabass with a "French bow" at age 12 in 1967, then continued in high school, and later with all city orchestra, for a total of seven years. He emerged with a basic knowledge of theory and the ability to write notation. He discovered the genius of Bach and Beethoven, and later, all periods of classical music, with a particular interest in Scarlatti, Mozart, Chopin, Wagner, Debussy, and Stravinsky, all of whom he still appreciates.

After high school, in 1976, Cliff picked up an electric Fender bass loaned to him from an orchestra friend, and developed an ear for the "ethereal" sound of Jeff Beck and Led Zeppelin. In the early eighties Cliff played rock and fusion with an electric bass and started singing, realizing that his voice could be utilized with the three and four piece bands that he was working with (Neon, Livewire, and Forge). He was developing musicianship, inspired by electric bassists such as John Paul Jones, Jack Bruce, James Jamerson and later Jimmy Johnson and of course the great Jaco Pastorius.

During that era Cliff became the electric bassist for The Bob Biagi Quartet, an established jazz fusion band with the accomplished composer and tenor saxophonist Bob Biagi, and the famous studio drummer Steve Mitchell who worked with Joe Henderson. However, he moved away from the acoustic bass's role in the jazz idiom due to the predictability of the walking or "swing" basslines feeling that more rhythmic or groove-oriented approaches offered more original and creative opportunities.

From that point on Cliff collaborated with numerous bands, projects and musicians, mostly in the rock-fusion genre, such as the exceptional guitar talents of Erik Torjesen (Starship), Mark Holzinger (Lost Weekend), Paul Mousavi (Jaco Pastorius), Joe Lococo (Jules Broussard), keyboardist Greg Rahn (Santana), and drummers Chris Sandoval (Steve Cropper), Don Rowlands (Madhouse), and Tommy Kesseker (Larry Vuckovich). Cliff's influences and tastes have developed over the years. He now cites the music of the Dave Holland Quartet/Quintet (in jazz) and Allan Holdsworth (in rock) as those rare and shining voices who continue to compositionally explore different rhythmic, tonal, and textural possibilities, while pushing the limit of instrumental technique with extreme creative sensitivity. They are in his opinion as good as it gets.

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