From: BluesWax (August 30, 2006):
Bassist Jeff Sarli Passes:
Bassist Jeff Sarli has died of complications of kidney disease. He had been on dialysis. Sarli was born in 1958 in White Plains, New York.
He began playing upright bass in the late 1970s in the Washington DC area. He said he enjoyed playing; "dirty, sweaty, ignorant rock'n'roll," but he actually had an older Swing and Jump Blues style. "I end up playing with somebody when they've already heard me and specifically want what I do."
His instrument was an American Kay plywood bass from the 1950s, which he had had spray painted red and black. Its neck was tilted back, as on double basses before the 20th century, so that he could get more tension using gut strings. He loved the sound of it, and so did everyone else.
Keith Richards chose Sarli to play on several tracks on the Rolling Stones album Babylon Revisited, because he sounded like Willie Dixon. "I wanted a little more roll to it," Richards said, "'cos we've got enough rock. Whatever did happen to the roll? Actually it probably lives in an upright bass."
Sarli also recorded with John Mooney, Anson Funderburgh, Big Joe [Maher] and the Dynaflows, Bill Kirchen and Too Much Fun, Ann Rabson, Bob Margolin, and Mark Wenner. There was nobody else like him, and he will be missed.
BluesWax sends its condolences to Jeff Sarli's friends and fans.
From: The Blues Foundation (August 31, 2006):
Jeff Sarli Passes Away
We have just heard that bassist Jeff Sarli has passed away as a result of complications associated with kidney disease. He had been undergoing dialysis treatments. You can read more about Jeff's career here, but for those who did not know him, he was a gentle soul. Jeff was probably most known as the usual bassist with John Mooney, but can be heard on many albums, including those by Big Joe and the Dynaflows and most famously, Bridges to Babylon by the Rolling Stones. Keith Richards wanted Jeff and his upright bass to put some roll back in the Stones' rock. Jeff had been living in Nashville, but had been a long-time resident of Annapolis.
From: The Washington Post (September 2, 2006; Page B6):
Jeff Sarli; Bassist Played on Rolling Stones Album
Jeff Sarli, 48, a longtime Washington area blues and roots rock bassist heard on the 1997 Rolling Stones album "Bridges to Babylon," died of complications from renal failure Aug. 29 at his home in Nashville. He had moved to Nashville from Annapolis in January.
Mr. Sarli had a heroin and cocaine addiction that he overcame more than two years ago, his family said.
Mr. Sarli was a presence in Washington's blues scene dating to the mid-1970s, ever since leaving high school in Anne Arundel County. He performed with groups including the Uptown Rhythm Kings and the jump blues band Big Joe & the Dynaflows, led by Big Joe Maher.
Among others Mr. Sarli played with frequently were guitarists Tom Principato, Bob Margolin and Bill Kirchen. He also shared the stage at various times with Levon Helm -- the drummer in The Band -- and singer-songwriter Marshall Crenshaw, with whom he toured Europe.
He also played in New Orleans and recorded with blues guitarist John Mooney, and through Mooney he formed a key friendship with drummer George Recile.
Recile later invited Mr. Sarli to participate in tryout recordings with Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards at a Connecticut recording studio in 1996. He won the audition.
"It was a very loose situation," Mr. Sarli told the publication Music Connection in 1998. "Keith had very specific ideas for me. He didn't want straight eights, he preferred a [Willie] Dixon type feeling with more syncopation and cutting time in half, like the bass you hear on those old Chuck Berry recordings.
"Keith would sing the lines to me and tell me to just do what I do best. It wasn't till after each session, when I got back to my hotel, that I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm jamming with the Stones!' "
Mr. Sarli played on the songs "Flip the Switch," "Too Tight" and "How Can I Stop," which were incorporated into "Bridges to Babylon."
Jeffrey John Sarli was born in White Plains, N.Y., and moved with his family to Arnold, Md., in the early 1970s when his father became an air-traffic manager at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
"I don't see myself as a session guy," Mr. Sarli once said. "I'm no virtuoso, and I'm not a soloist, either. I guess I'm more of a stylist, with a foundation in American roots music."
His marriages to Sandra Kempton Sarli, Amy Fenton Sarli and Adrianna Amari Sarli ended in divorce.
Survivors include two sons from his first marriage, Evan Sarli of Millersville and Benjamin Sarli of Annapolis; his parents, Michael J. Sarli and Victoria Sarli of Arnold; a brother, Michael S. Sarli of Fairfax County; and a sister, Mary Ellen Porreca of Philadelphia.
From - Music Monthly (October, 2006)
In memory of Jeff Sarli, 1958-2006
Tribute Concert - Tuesday, October 10th, 2006
8 PM 'til Midnight at Chick Hall's Surf Club
Annapolis-based bass player Jeff Sarli died in Nashville, Tennessee on
Tuesday, August 29th, 2006 of complications of kidney disease. He was 48.
Moving to Nashville in January of 2006, Sarli had made a brilliant start in
the Nashville music scene, appearing weekly at The Bluebird
Café with Mike Henderson, Pat O'Connor & Kevin McKendree as well as several
recording studio sessions. In addition, he was touring nationally and
internationally. With John Mooney & Bluesiana, he appeared at the 2006 New
Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and the Rock 'n' Bowl - a musical partnership
of some 20 years. Sarli appears on John Mooney's latest (Spring 2006) release,
Big Ol' Fiya.
Originally from White Plains, New York, Sarli began guitar lessons at a very
young age. In no time, the instructor referred him to a music major from
Julliard for additional study. By age 14, Sarli had a band - Money Back
Guarantee - which played at the library & at school functions. After the Sarli
family moved to Annapolis, The Wildcats were formed - Sarli with
Arnold Kempton and Tom Mitchell, and he started playing upright bass. He
attended Peabody Institute, retaining a lifelong interest in the foundation
and philosophy of music. Though best known for his fluent knowledge
of American Roots Music, he possessed a consciousness and deep
appreciation for the history and traditions of World Music, including West
African JuJu. In addition to upright, Sarli was a master of the electric
bass, the six-string and many other instruments.
Another of the first groups Sarli performed with was Billy Hancock & The
Tennessee Rockets. Included among the many he worked with are The Uptown
Rhythm Kings, The Hula Monsters, Bob Margolin, Tom Principato, Big Joe Maher, Bill Kirchen,
Anson Funderburgh & Sam Myers, Kevin McKendree,
Ann Rabson, Janine Wilson, Bob E. Rock, Martha Hull, Tex Rubinowitz and
Dean Rosenthal. He toured Europe with Robert Ward, Marshall Crenshaw
and on many occasions with John Mooney. Sarli appears on more than
35 albums, including 2 with The Blue Rider Trio - comprised of Sarli, Ben
Andrews and Mark Wenner.
When the Stones come a'calling:
In 1996, Sarli was recruited to record with The Rolling Stones for three
cuts on Bridges to Babylon. A year prior, he had been working in Branson,
Missouri with The Patsy Cline Story. Keith Richards had the following to say
about Jeff and his acoustic bass, "Got this guy from Baltimore, Jeff Sarli,
plays like Willie Dixon. I didn't want that same electric bass texture.
I wanted a little more roll to it, 'cos we've got enough rock. Whatever did
happen to the roll? Actually it probably lives in the upright bass." (Quoted from MOJO)
Richards goes on, "One idea I had was to use an upright bassist -Jeff Sarli-
on three tracks: 'Flip the Switch', 'Too Tight', and 'How Can I Stop'. I
wanted to get away from the dum, dum dum dum electric bass. I figured,
'Let's try to get some swing'." "Actually, 'Rip this Joint' was the fastest track
the Stones ever cut - until 'Flip the Switch'... There's something about that
speed when you cut it in half and the acoustic bass plays that tempo. I just
love the air that you get. There's a power that you can get from an upright bass
if you record it right. It just has a different feel than electric bass. There's a wider,
fatter bounce to it. It puts the roll back into the rock. I want the roll.
Fuck the rock. I've had enough of it." Sarli and Richards stayed in contact
and a future Richards project to include Sarli was in the planning stages.
Sarli's bass of choice was a customized 1950s American Kay plywood,
spray-painted black & red. The body was a basic M model, and the neck from a
top-of-the-line S model, with steel and gut strings. With a little more tilt
to the neck, as in the style of the first half of the 1900s, the gut was made tighter.
After a near-fatal car accident in 1999 caused months of physical therapy
and the reconstruction of his shoulder, Sarli returned to music full time,
touring and recording with John Mooney & Bluesiana. He worked with Chuck Berry,
Levon Helm, Hubert Sumlin, Lester Chambers, Jimmy Thackery and Steve Guyger.
There were many years of playing at festivals, clubs, and private parties around
the world. Sarli especially enjoyed New Orleans' Ponderosa Stomp, and the
opportunity to play with Scotty Moore, D.J. Fontana, Paul Burlison, Rocky Burnette
and many others.
While upon this rock, despite illness and struggles with the business of
music, raising a family, three marriages and a brief addiction, Sarli was
constantly moving forward and on the road. He was never known to say a bad
thing about anyone or lose his temper. In a 1998 interview with
Bass Player Crosstalk, Sarli is quoted as saying "To me, the best thing a
bass player can do is to be so effective that he goes largely unnoticed." A
rare individual and definitely a unique part of American music history. Jeff
Sarli will be missed by fans, friends and fellow musicians everywhere.
Jeff Sarli Tribute Concert
October 10th, 2006 - 8 PM 'til Midnight with:
Bob Margolin, Tom Principato, Mark
Wenner, Big Joe Maher, Tom Mitchell,
Jim Stephanson, John Cocuzzi, Joe
Stanley, Ivan Appelrouth and MANY, MANY MORE!
$15 minimum donation to MusiCares
Chick Hall's Surf Club
4711 Kenilworth Avenue
Hyattsville, Maryland 20781-2510