When someone passes out of your life, out of everyone else’s life, it’s not like they’re still there. Some people leave a greater absence than others; It is difficult to speak of some people as gone, because they are not. He went away but didn’t go away.
At 19, Tal Wilkenfield ate airport pizza in New York, spent the flight to England vomiting up pizza and then the green stuff, suffered the drive to Tunbridge Wells, Kent, and went straight to rehearsal with Jeff Beck. “This is the band!” Beck said as soon as the group was turned on. She has been playing bass for two years.
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“I think it’s more of a … chemistry that happens when people are connected. And I can’t explain why or how, I just know when it happens. And that connection that I have is one I’ve never had with anyone else. And I’m sitting here wondering if I was will ever with anyone else.
It definitely feeds the band in a really powerful way. He’s looking at the drums and bass to kind of whiten him musically. The more fire on him, the stronger his fire. And that’s really fun, because it’s a really interactive player.
“In melody and harmony, he’s also incredibly adventurous — he’s boundless, because he doesn’t treat the guitar as just a guitar. He approaches it as a singer — he he, in fact, a singer. And I don’t just mean that melodically, but also conceptually. Because when he listened to the recording, he was listening to the words. I mean, he was listening to music too, but for him, it was all about the message and the meaning and what the singer said and that was paramount to him, being a performer who puts the lyric first.
“He was an idiot with us. And that’s not a side he shows to a lot of people. He was very quiet in public but with people he was very close to, he was incredibly goofy and silly. I think that’s what kept him like that…Fresh. He had this kid-like sense with music and life, just to laugh at anything and just joke about everything.
“He and his wife Sandra kind of treated me like a daughter. I lived with them for a bit in England, stayed at their flat, and taught me how to cook some things. It was just a kind of family feeling. They treated me so well. Sandra is such a gem! We were rehearsing.” Upstairs, and she’d come in and say, “Hey guys — that second verse you played about a minute ago? Well, I don’t know if it was that alternate chord she played, it kind of gets in the way of the melody…”Um” Geoff, leaving the D flat a bit…”She has great ears – Geoff loved hers. Geoff loved asking her what she thought of things.” Jeff doesn’t talk about music theory. He doesn’t care if it’s 9/8 or 15/16 – “I just play the thing and I’ll play on top of it.”
“I have a white jacket sitting next to me right now. He picked it up and it looks just like Jeff Beck. I picked up a Tele, it looks just like Jeff Beck. I picked up this old toy guitar at a festival – it looks just like Jeff Beck. It’s powered by this little Roland Cube amplifier – He looks just like Jeff Beck.It’s all in his fingers and intent.
“He was incredibly smart, incredibly intuitive, and perceptive. He didn’t say much, but he picked it all up.”
“It’s about our connection. It’s like you fall in love with someone. You don’t know why you fell in love with someone. You can try to rationalize it, and say ‘Oh, it’s because they have this personality, they have this look and they do these things… But that’s just the thought. Chemistry isn’t something you can explain. And same with musicians playing together. You either have it or you don’t.
“You’ll never be the same way, to that intense intensity, with all the elements combined, from emotion to humor to attachment to vulnerability — all the little elements that created those moments. That chemistry that can’t be made. You can’t manufacture that. It’s beyond human control.” .It’s another world.”
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