She could be 15 or she could be 25. Maybe. I had to watch Eric Clapton's Crossroads 2007 guitar festival thingy. I wasn't going to at first, thinking I'd seen it all and heard it all a thousand times before. It turns out I hadn't seen it all. Jeff Beck's band comes out and he's got this bass player that looks like a twelve year-old girl. And that's only a slight exaggeration. The twelve year-old part. She was definitely a girl. I thought she had to be his daughter or niece or something. Jeff Beck could get pretty much anyone he wanted to play bass for him for a day. But . . .
Not only could this girl keep up with him she is one of the best bass players I've heard anywhere. She's a Stanley Clarke Class bass player. I was blown away as, it appeared, was most of the audience of 40,000 or so. She played a kick-ass solo on the first tune. I didn't catch it at first, but when I saw it again later, in places on the second tune she was echoing back on the bass what Beck had just played on the guitar. Cool.
So I Googled "Jeff Beck's Bass Player" and found out that she's Tal Wilkenfeld. Her bio page seems intent on keeping her exact age a secret. It just says that she was born in Australia and moved to the US about five years ago. She was, it says, already a guitar player and took up the bass about four years ago. She is mostly into jazz and has played with Chick Corea and others. She's been touring with Jeff Beck, but she's an artist in her own right, so to speak.
The first tune can be viewed here (embedding has been "disabled by request"). The bass audio gets a bit lost on YouTube, but it's still impressive. Their blurb says she's 21 as does Bass Player Magazine, so I guess she's not twelve after all.
In my typically impulsive manner I sent away for her "solo" CD immediately. I like it. It's the sort of jazz fusion stuff I haven't listened to for a long time. The kind that seems to takes great care never to step where anyone has stepped before, to never do the obvious thing. It grows on you and after a while you appreciate it as much for where it didn't go as you do for where it did.*
The gushy liner notes, on the other hand, are enough to gag any curmudgeon I've ever met. All this hooey about "musical integrity**," whatever that is. Sounds like a girl wrote it.
. . .*That reminds me of a great line of Stanley Crouch's, that Count Basie was more famous for the notes he didn't play than the ones he did. Same deal.
**When I was a kid "musical integrity" was a synonym for "poverty." You have to be really good for that not to be true.